I recently had a week that brought me to my knees.
It was the perfect storm of circumstances. There was a serious health scare with my father, the logistical and emotional challenges of single parenting, and increased pressure in the career aspect of my life.
Trying to remain centered amidst it all is something that I pulled off, relatively well for a few days, but when Friday came along I was so emotionally and energetically depleted that I fell apart.
There were tears and anger and I was in a state where I could not even make decisions. My world had become foggy because I pushed myself past that edge, and I had a moment where I looked around me and wanted to scream up at the sky, “Where is everybody?”
“Where are my people when I need them?”
I had received many text messages telling me that I was not alone. I also received tons of “virtual hugs” via Facebook. I am not being critical, I am not judging those who mean well and are at a distance and this is the best that they could do, but I was pining at that time for a different type of support. I am accountable for my pushing myself the way that I did. I perhaps could have made better decisions, but despite that I was desperate for a hug—a real, live hug where I could do nothing by let myself melt and allow myself to feel the support of another.
Looking back, I see now that I have grown so used to doing things by myself that there were moments during this week where I had pushed people away. “I’ve got this” has been my mantra for a number of years, and I realize now that this can at times be somewhat detrimental to my connection with others.
I started this year with a specific intention to do my part to build community. I have spent too much time in my own life feeling isolated, and I see so clearly that others feel this was as well.
I say so often that we are all in this together—we have just forgotten.
We think we can and should do things on our own—that this is a sign of strength. We sometimes compete with each other, we feel that we are more or less worthy than others, we make assumptions around whether other people want to connect with us or not—after all, we are all just so busy, are we not?
But, it does not have to be this way. I have seen the longing to realize (make real) our connection with others. The potential to increase the joy, the loving and the playing, of this life experience is infinite. It truly is.
So, how do we make this happen?
We can begin by seeing that we crave this.
Perhaps we can see what we turn to as a result of not feeling connected. Are we even so desperate for this that we turn to meaningless sexual experiences, drugs, alcohol or other vices either out of an attempt to connect or to drown out the pain that sometimes come as a result of feeling isolated?
I am an introvert as I suspect that a lot of you are as well. I need my space in order to recharge, but I also have felt the benefits of developing community.
We can then develop an intention for perhaps more tangible interactions with others and we can act on this in whatever ways seems fitting for us.. We have become so deeply engrained in our busy and electronic means of communication that this likely will not happen without our intention and commitment to actually take action around it.
Don’t get me wrong—I am not opposed to email, social media, texting, etc. This is our world now, and there is so much good that comes from this as well.
I am only suggesting a certain level of awareness, then discernment around our choices when it comes to the methods of communication and interaction with others.
I have a good friend that was coming out of a challenging couple of years who decided that she was going to have lunch with a friend once a week for an entire summer, and she did. If we cannot prioritize live interaction (can’t we?—we likely can), we can at a minimum begin to make more phone calls instead of texting, especially when the context deems this a more appropriate means of communication.
When did phone calls become practically taboo?
Sometimes just hearing the words spoken via the vibration of a voice can carry so much weight.
On a larger scale, we can find others who are like-minded and we can also find strength in our differences—there is real, equal potential in both. Sometimes we get hung up on seeing the differences amongst us rather than what we all share, and sometimes we do not allow ourselves to learn from the differences, rather instead we judge.
We argue about religion, we fight about race, we sometimes only allow ourselves to see what is different among us and we do not choose to see past that, when after all, what we do share is our humanity.
We are a community of humans and we do not have to live in separateness or in isolation, nor do we ever have to feel as if we are alone. Even within certain groups, all of those individuals have their differences along with their similarities. We can choose to look at others as people, and at a minimum we can connect with that.
We can start by changing our means of interaction. We can love ourselves and others enough to support and be supported. We can form healing and supportive communities that remind each other of the beauty in the world when we are not able to see it, and we can play and love together.
But we can be mindful of the walls that we sometimes build around our communities as well—and see that our communities are all just parts of our larger, beautiful community that is our humanity.
And, instead of us individually saying that “I’ve got this” we can collectively say and make it a reality that “We’ve got this.”
Author: Katie Vessel
Editor: Renée Picard