Imagine someone curled up in a ball, shaking. Crying. Calling out to the universe how alone they feel. How forgotten they are. How hated they are by everyone around them. That every inch of them is hideous. Worthless. Not deserving of life, let alone everything they have around them.
What would you do?
Would you bend down to the person, put a hand on their shoulder, and tell them everything was goingto be all right?
“Of course,” we say. It’s what any decent human being would do, right?
Or would you walk by? Pretend you didn’t see the suffering person. Look down at your phone. You have enough on your plate. Enough of your own struggles. You don’t have time to stretch out a hand. Besides, you don’t know them. They probably want to be left alone.
But what if you knew this person struggled with a mental illness? Would that change things? Would it make you recoil away? Like they were diseased? Or would the knowledge of their hardship add to your empathy? Make you want to stretch out even more, knowing they needed extra care.
Now imagine a new person. This one isn’t crying. Not constantly, anyway. They have a real need for human connection. They still feel alone, but instead of being curled up and shaking, they feel the makings of strength. They’re teetering between wanting to be strong and falling off the edge again. But they’re reaching out a hand to the universe—to anyone, anyone who will reach out and hold back onto them. Help them find secure ground.
Do your actions change? Does the pleading hand scare you? Strangers are scary. It’s best to leave them alone, you think. But what if you knew the hand? What if the hand belonged to a close friend or family member? Or what if the hand had unintentionally hurt you in the past?
Now imagine a third person. Whole. Happy. Complete. Full of deep, deep love. They don’t feel hurt—not too much anyway—but know what deep hurt feels like having experienced it before. They’re smiling at you. Offering a hand of friendship. Asking about you, are kind to you, tell you that they love you. They offer to shake your hand. Would you take it?
We as human beings are all hurting in some way. We’ve had life experiences that have scarred us. Left a mark on our souls that will linger beneath pushed down emotions, lying dormant for years, waiting, waiting to surface again. Maybe we were raised in an abusive home. Or maybe your home life was so perfect growing up that you weren’t prepared to be thrown into the real world.
Maybe you’ve seen a loved one die. Lost a job you desperately wanted. Been scammed out of thousands of dollars. Have chronic pain that is nearly unbearable. Or maybe someone is just ignoring you. Saying mean things about you behind your back. Judging you.
Whatever it is, there is no competition. All hurt is equal. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen your child die or were bullied in high school. Hurt is hurt. It affects us all, lingers deep underneath the surface, ready to boil out either in a healthy way or an unhealthy way—depending on who we are and how we’re able to handle different situations. Someone with a mental illness might translate the hurt into hurting themselves. Or someone with a sound mind can process the hurt and be okay through friends and family. (Regardless, we probably all need therapy) ;)
I’ve read a lot of blog posts as of late. Some personal. Some more textbook. But I’m seeing a common theme:
I. I. I.
Me. Me. Me.
Of course in our own space we’re going to talk about ourselves and our own experiences, but what is the intent behind the words? What is the motivation? To me, as a writer and as a reader, it’s obvious what an author is trying to convey. Whether it’s to seek praise, to try and communicate how much worse their life is than someone else’s, or whether they’re trying to truly inspire and uplift. And the key is how the author turns their experiences around. At the end of the article is the text still filled with “Me’s?” Or have they turned it around to show how they were wrong and what they’ve learned and how to move on & build a better life or make a change?
It isn’t enough to just go online and vomit hardships—that isn’t going to resonate with people, in fact, it’s going to do the opposite. We, as humans, have natural man tendencies, which is to compare and compete.
I wish this didn’t exist.
There is no competition. We are all people, doing our best, trying to raise our families the best we know how. But unfortunately, pride destroys friendships, destroys families.
I wish sincerity could be translated through typed words on the page. Through words out of one’s mouth. Through intensity in the eyes. But unfortunately, we’ve become a society so obsessed with our own lives, we already have chosen not to listen before the words are even said.
So as a writer, wanting to make a difference, the key is to somehow reach the reader on a personal level, so they can truly know who you are, feel your sincerity. Just as I would with my fictional writing. A reader can easily tell when an author is taking command of the story instead of the character being the one to take you on a journey.
The three people I’ve described above are three people I’ve been, as I’m sure you have all been also. When I was reaching out a hand, teetering between falling off the deep end or regaining my footing, the rejection repeatedly came.And in my last blog post I spoke about reached hands. I’ve recently been hurt on a level so deep, I’m not sure when or if I’ll recover—with this particular type of hurt. It pains me to know that I’ll probably live the rest of my life with this hurt and not be able to do anything about it.
Thankfully, due to an incredible husband, I chose to regain my footing. I chose to love (from a distance) despite the cruelty sent my way. It’s a horrible feeling being treated like you’re not worth the dirt beneath someone’s shoes. To have your hand outstretched, pleading, crying out for something—anything—only to have individuals keep their heads down, pretending they don’t see you, to walk on by.
We’ve all felt this.
And we’ve all done this.
None of us are innocent.
But what if it is done on purpose? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves. I don’t want to get preachy, because that would contradict this entire post and the message I’m trying to convey, but what I want to say—even if it’s only my mom who reads this post—is that despite circumstances, despite hardships, there is never ever ever ever a reason to be mean.
It doesn’t matter which of the three people we are up there, whether we’re the one suffering or in a good place, whether we’re able to reach out a hand or not, we can always smile. It’s as simple as that. A smile on a text. Or a smile as we pass a stranger in the grocery store. Or if a smile is too hard (because of depression or other reasons), we can always show respect and human decency. Passive aggressive actions are childish and disappointing.
It’s sad to lose respect for individuals. But it happens.
I’ve chosen not to read certain blog posts anymore—blogs about toxicity and how to avoid it—because to me, it only feeds into the feelings we need to get rid of. If you are feeling toxicity from someone, reading an article about how to rid yourself of it, only validates bad behavior, giving you a reason to point fingers and say, “Yeah. They’re wrong. They’re the problem. Not me.”
When that’s not the case.
A good relationship/friendship is two sided. To be there to put a hand on someone’s back when they’re sobbing in the corner. Or allow someone to help you when you’re ready to jump off a cliff.
We never know someone’s circumstances. And how one act—ONE SIMPLE ACTION—can either make or break a person. I know that I almost broke again because of someone’s actions, but thanks to what I know and the love that I have for others, and myself, I’ve learned the miracle of growing stronger each day.
If I were to have any one message to get across in this post, it would be to look around you. Look up from your phone. Or zone in on your phone--if that’s how you communicate. Your best friend or sister or stranger you pass on the street could be hurting so deeply, and more often than not, we might not know it. So look for those stretched hands, and don’t be afraid to take them. Or don’t be afraid to stretch your own hand, because speaking from experience, it could mean someone’s life.