Today, we're marking the 100th episode of Modern Love: The Podcast! And to celebrate, we're going to hear from you. A few months ago, we asked you to send in voice recordings about moments from past episodes that deeply moved you — and we were blown away by what you sent in.
One listener, Sandra, told us, "Every time I listen, I think I'm going to be moved by a story about loneliness, or about romance, but I was completely unprepared for the Modern Love episode that broke me down."
"In that moment, I felt like someone was there. Like someone understood what I had gone through."Sandra
That was the episode called "Sharing the Shame," featuring an essay by Brooke Reinhardt. In that piece, Brooke's new marriage is shattered when she and her husband are both arrested for crimes that he committed. Brooke's description of a perfect exterior hiding something underneath resonated deeply with Sandra. She says she struggled after an abusive marriage.
"On the outside, we were like this perfect couple," she says. "We were part of a Christian community. And when I came out with this story of abuse, and finally leaving him, it was so shameful for me, and the way that my community received me was so harsh and un-supportive that I fell into this deep shame. When Brooke talked about sleeping on the couch, at her parents' house, and being completely undone ... I could so relate ... I was alone in that house, lying on the couch. And in that moment, I felt like someone was there. Like someone understood what I had gone through."
Another listener, Marlo, sent in a message about the episode "In Darkness and In Light." It features Nicole Kear's essay, and it was read by Patina Miller.
"I'm always living in fear around losing another part of myself, whether that be vision in the other eye, or strength in certain parts of my body. And I think it really affects my relationships."Marlo
Marlo told us, "I have M.S., and I was diagnosed when I was thirteen. As a result of my MS, I have optic neuritis, which means that one day I woke up blind in one eye. I only recovered partial sight, so I'm partially blind. I'm always living in fear around losing another part of myself, whether that be vision in the other eye, or strength in certain parts of my body. And I think it really affects my relationships. I'm constantly worried about becoming a burden on others, and worried about whether they can be dependent on me. And I'm really grateful for Nicole's story. I think she really has an honest conversation about dependency when someone is struggling with a chronic disease."
Bonnie sent in a message about our second episode, "One Last Swirl." It features an essay by Dan Barry about a dying father and a dying fish, who both refuse to eat.
Bonnie says, "This episode came at a time when I had just lost my mother-in-law, who also refused to eat or drink ... While I was listening, I began to feel overwhelmed. I began crying quietly for the fish, and for the memory of my mother-in-law. I was amazed at how the story was so [similar] to mine. But I was going to be okay. I was not alone, and I was listening to proof."
Jacqueline shared what it was like listening to Marcia DeSanctis's essay, "What the Psychic Knew," read by Angela Bassett. In the story, a psychic tells Marcia that her purpose in life is love. That line hit home with Jacqueline.
"I sat down, and I cried," she says. "As a stay-at-home mom, I've given up my career to tend to three children and my husband. I was feeling, quite honestly, resentful that I had to wash clothes, and cook, and clean, and there was no time for me. I was losing myself."
But that line got her thinking. She says it made her realize "the impact that your love and patience could have on the world" — and changed her perspective on motherhood.
Ben Sellers related to Caroline Leavitt's story in the episode, "A Heart of Gold." It's about her bond with her pet tortoise, Minnie.
"People can learn about love in a deeper sense from their pets. And I think my father learned from his dog that in the midst of multiple transcontinental moves and a nasty divorce, that he was worth sticking around for."Ben Sellers
Ben says, "I've never seen my dad more sad than the day when he called to tell me his dog, Freckles, had died. He had lost friends and loved ones in the past, and had always done it with a remarkable amount of stoicism. He had a nasty divorce, but he'd never shown almost any vulnerability. But when his dog died, he broke down. I think what this essay shows is that in some cases, people can learn about love in a deeper sense from their pets. And I think my father learned from his dog that in the midst of multiple transcontinental moves and a nasty divorce, that he was worth sticking around for."
For Shera Myers, one episode had a lasting impact.
"In 2015, I found out that I was unexpectedly, but very happily pregnant with a boy," she says. "I knew it would be a struggle for [my husband and me] to find a name that resonated with both of us, and that also reflected our hopes for the man our son will one day become. We found and agreed upon a first name, but I wanted a middle name to reflect the emotional well-being and development of a nice, sweet boy. I was listening to your podcast and I heard Natalie Lindeman's essay, "The Upside of an Emotional Plunge," and was immediately in love.
Shera sent the episode to her family. And in the story, they found what they were looking for. She told us, "Our son, Marcellus Wilder, was born on April 4, 2016. And so far, he is every bit as sweet as he is strong."
Dan Jones, editor of the Modern Love column for The New York Times, also weighed in.
"At this point, I've been editing Modern Love for 14 years," he says. "And when we first talked about having a podcast, I thought, who wants to hear someone read an essay to them? I wasn't that optimistic about the whole project at the start. But I was so won over by what a skilled actor can bring to a reading. They inhabit this character and sort of fill up these flat words on the page with a context, and a depth, and a breadth of experience. It's just kind of a magic that they pull off, and all I feel is grateful."
Thanks to everyone who sent in a voice recording — and everyone who listens to the podcast. Modern Love: The Podcast only works because of you.