I said that when I revamped the blog, it was going to be different than it was before. A bit more real—more rugged and more raw. Exploratory. Experimental.
I think, if anything, it’s proven mostly to be confusing to the people who are close to me.
Our society is a social media illusion of good times and happy moments. So much so, we tend to have forgotten the importance of vulnerability. Or, perhaps, we never really had a grasp on it at all.
Every writer has their ‘obligation’—the reason for their words. Mine is empathy.
Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone; empathy is feeling sorry with someone. There is a difference. I am not trying to make anyone feel bad for me please oh please do not feel bad for me I am trying to get you to feel with me. To climb down the hole into which I’ve placed myself and sit in the dark alongside me for a few moments. Not to look down from above and offer me a rope. I have a rope—I’m just enjoying all this self-reflection. It’s so nice and quiet down here. The words inside my head are a little bit softer when I write them out—it makes the hurts hurt less.
We are all hurting. And it isn’t easy being human. The things that I am writing out are not unique to me and yes they may seem jarring or upsetting or even radical but they are meant to. If they are difficult to read, perhaps it is because that piece is not meant for you—but it could be meant for someone else.
When I first started dating Adam, I wrote him a little poem and I told him that I wanted every day with him, even the bad ones. I want your bad days, every one. Which means when he comes home from a bad day I want that day and I want to take it and hold it and sit down with him over a glass of wine and be positively miserable together over what a terrible day he had. Not for me, but for him. But also for me because vulnerability can only exist inside of a shared relationship with another human being.
True human connection is forged in our ability to sit down with one another and recognize the fact that it is, sometimes, terribly difficult to exist inside this world. People have to talk about this. Here’s why.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States. In 2017, it claimed the lives of over 47,000 people, with 10.6 million adults aged 18 or older having reported serious thoughts about suicide. It is the second leading killer for people ages 10-34, the fourth leading killer for people ages 35-54. In 2017, there were more than twice as many suicides in the United States as there were homicides.*
We are killing ourselves at an alarming rate. More specifically, men are killing themselves at an alarming rate.
Certainly, you cannot chalk every suicide up to a lack of communication—there are so many social factors and statistics and all these neat bits of data that come into play. But, at the end of the day, the vast majority of people committing suicide are killing themselves because they are hurting, and they do not have a place to go with all that hurt.
Suicide is a symptom of our inability as a society to climb down into the hole and feel with another human being. It is shouting out from a distance, Hey, are you okay? I’m over here if you need anything. Just give me a ring. It is forcing the hurting person to come to you, instead of you reaching out to them. And guess what? They’re not going to come to you, because we haven’t told them that they can.
Listen, I’m a shitty friend. I’m positively terrible at reaching out to others. My head is so far up my own business I’m so exhausted by being in my own headspace that sometimes even texting someone back feels like an enormous venture. I’m working on it. Mostly with a lot of apologies, but I’m working on it.
So, if my words feel too heavy, or frightening, or overwhelming—just know that I’m trying to shake us all awake. Back into the mindset of being a community, and not an individual. I am not writing anything on this blog that you have not felt before. You might not remember feeling it, but think back on that bad day you had a few weeks ago. You’ll get there. It’s closer than you think. I know it feels uncomfortable, but that’s what being vulnerable is.
I saw someone “overshare” on Facebook the other day, and I did this little mental cringe gymnastics move where I was like dang that sucks but what the hell are you doing man jesus? And then I realized the problem wasn’t them—it was me. It was my inability to receive their vulnerability. They were offering me such a beautiful, engaging gift, and all I chose to do was feel sorry for them from a distance. I wasn’t climbing into the hole. Rather, I was offering a rope.
Stop offering ropes. People hang themselves with those. I know. And trust me when I say that’s a heartbreak that will never mend.