Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain and the list goes on and on. Two people that helped shape me went out the same way that they did. There was a point in time when I could have joined this list. Not intentionally, but because of reckless abandon. A good friend of mine held someone he loved in the aftermath of this.
How do we get here? We live in a time where we’re more connected than we’ve ever, but people are more lonely than ever. It doesn’t take much scrolling to see graphics and/or defiant statements about cutting people off and shouldering life alone. It doesn’t a lot to find talk of anxiety or loneliness either. How do we get here even though we have the world at our fingertips? We can literally contact just about anyone we want to at any given time, yet we’re so alone.
Today marks the fourth year since the day I woke up in jail, and I’ve been thinking about that all day. I am not sure how I got there that night. I was surrounded by people that care about me. That night, I was completely blind to all of it. Nothing mattered to me but getting through the struggle at the time and doing it alone. It was a stupid and unnecessary decision that could’ve landed my name on that list.
“Yeaaaah, I’m in jail…” That were the first words that came out of my mouth when I finally remembered my work number. It was my boss that answered the phone. “Yeah.. yeah, you are” he said matter of flatly. They knew already. One of my co-workers found me as soon as I showed up in the system, he explained to me. He rattled off names of people that were worried sick about me. As I listened to him talk about all the concern about my well being, my mind was reeling.
How did I not know that there were so many people around me that had my back? How did I not know that those people love me? Why didn’t I reach out to one of my old friends? Why didn’t I reach out to my best friend? With every name he shared, I had to ask myself why. My friends posted my bail as soon as they found out what happened. They were outside waiting for me to be processed and released. They took so long to let me out, people were doing shifts around the jail so I’d have a way home when I finally got out. THAT is love.
Beautiful friendships were born out of that bad weekend. I told my story to anyone that would hear it. I had to. Not telling my story is what landed me there in the first place. It was hard. It’s still hard. As an introvert by nature, it’s not easy for me to bare my heart when something is really hurting me. Like any other person, I don’t want to risk being further hurt by opening up to someone that turns out to be not trustworthy either. There’s a plethora of relatable reasons any of us have to shoulder our burdens alone, but it’s not meant to be that way.
We need one another. We’re communal beings. We can’t handle all of life’s problems alone. We’re not designed to even be capable of handling it all. We all need somebody to lean on. My refusal to accept that could’ve cost someone their life. It could’ve cost me mine.
I’m hitting extremes, and I realize that. Everyone that’s alone doesn’t commit suicide or put people in mortal danger like I did. But, this loneliness that’s so prevalent in our culture doesn’t have to be. Some of anxiety we feel about one another could possibly be coming from the inability to relate and resolve conflict with one another through authentic relationships too.
This tool that we have, the internet. It’s great. I can check up on people I haven’t seen since 6th grade and we can talk to each other. I can see how my family is doing and check up on them even though we’re in different parts of the country and living completely different lives. I can even hold on tightly to relationships that were born online and help them blossom into more. And that has happened. One of the most important friendships I have is with someone from Rhode Island. That’s pretty far from anywhere I’ve ever lived and we’re still more than just a name and a picture to one another.
There’s a lot to be said to this, but for now, we need each other. We have to do the hard work of building trust and the harder work of baring our souls if we want love to be more than some fickle and fleeting feeling we get once in a while. That is suicide prevention. That is intervention. That is therapy. That, for some of us, is all we need.