I sat across from a good friend last night as he broke my heart and reminded me how much and how silently people close to us are struggling. Life really beats the shit out of the most undeserving people. Sometimes I get so caught up in the fear of spiraling downward, dying or just general mental chaos that I forget to take a look at the life that is happening each and every day around me. Someone needed help and I think in the back of my mind I knew that, but found a few good excuses not to find a way to involve myself. “Not my business”, “I don’t know this or that for sure”, “It would make him uncomfortable if I brought it up”. I have spent a decade feeling lonely and never fully able to express or explain the things that go on inside my head and my body and yet I sat back and watched someone unravel from a safe distance without speaking up.
Many things about this are sticking to me today, but I think the worst of it is realizing that I questioned whether or not I was close enough to this person to help rather than reaching out to him. The insecurity of not knowing if he considered me a close friend prevented me from being one. I am guessing I do this a lot. Being a friend to someone in college or the few years after didn’t really require too much. We were all a little tougher and more able to deflect and rebound when life took a swing at us. Now it requires an actual investment and I worry that the extent of that investment is overlooked or is simply too great for some of us to take on. A simple “are you ok”? really doesn’t cut it anymore and neither does a night out. I tell my partner I love him every day, multiple times per day, yet reminding someone outside of an intimate relationship that they are loved seems so difficult. I don’t know why that is.
“I love you. You are needed. You are so important.” Why is that so hard? Not to mention actually getting off my ass and making plans with this person and ensuring that he, nor I, are sitting at home emotionally battering ourselves over the very things that make others love us.
I won’t make this mistake again. I am waking up. I will not worry that someone may be annoyed by my interference or embarrassed by me broaching a certain subject. We talk and talk and talk about how much more people should TALK about mental health and then what do we do? We retreat. At least I did. It shouldn’t take a telecom. company running an annual campaign (I do not knock this campaign for a second and am grateful for it) or the death of a celebrity for us to look around and assess what is happening to the person beside us. I am lucky in that this friend has opened up and that he did so before it was too late. But being a friend and recognizing that the conversation needed to be had before it got so bad is my failure. The world keeps spinning, fast, and if we don’t wake up and hold tight to those near us they might lose their grip.