Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Check on Your Friends

We deal with a significant, heartbreaking amount of suicide at the funeral home where I work. I have yet to see a pattern.
So check on your friends.
The ones who are single, widowed, or divorced.
The friends who are coupled, even if they tout and shout happiness and fulfillment, but especially if they don't.
The ones who don't worry about finances, and the ones who do.
The ones living with disease, as well as the healthiest of them.
The ones who have asked for help, and the ones who haven't.
The ones who are lonely, and the ones you assume aren't.
The ones you don't see often, and the ones you do.

Check on the military veterans, and the military spouses.
Those who are set in a career path, and the ones finding their way. Professionals to blue collar.
The ones with clear sign of mental illness, and those who present like they have it all together.
Busy friends and idle friends.
The ones who are quiet on social media but loud in life.
The ones who are active on social media and reserved in person.
The friends who laugh a lot.
The friends who cry a lot.
The friends who give a lot.
The friends who have nothing to give.
The angels and the rebels.
Your straight friends. The LGBTQ ones.
The teenagers, young adults, middle aged, and retirees.
The Republicans, Democrats, and who's in between.
The Christians and Atheists, and who's in between.
The intellectuals and morons, and who's in between.
Check on the introverts, and the extroverts.
The confident friends, and not-so.
Check on the parents. All of them.
Any time someone crosses your mind, check on them.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Walking Was My Therapy

Several years back we lived in a small town of about 1800 people. It never felt like home to me, and for a couple of reasons. One was that life for my kids and me had changed drastically, but not so as to allow the fresh start I truly needed. (That would come later, and with good timing.) Two, because I grew up in the Northland of Kansas City on the Missouri side, and I will always be a city girl at core.

But our locale was good for a few things, among them the walks I took often and by myself. For me those walks were about physical fitness, mental awareness, and emotional repair.

I pushed myself pretty far. Down the street, through the neighborhood---traffic and uneven pavement be damned---to the other side of town, outside city limits among the gravel roads and livestock---including two horses who came to recognize me as well as I them---and back again. I minded my heart's pounding, my lungs breathing, my muscles working. I walked myself through.

I pushed myself pretty far. Those footsteps were matched in tempo and quantity by my thoughts. I assessed with naked honesty who I'd been for too long, with little autonomy, and also who I wanted to be. I turned over ugly, painful experiences, and looked at them head-on. I dissected what I'd begun learning about something called narcissistic personality disorder, and how that had ruled my marriage. I considered that, maybe, everything I'd been brainwashed to believe for years may not be true after all. I talked myself through.

During those walks I came to see I am in this moment. I am in this life. I get to choose how it goes now, from here forward.

I pushed myself pretty far, because nature and solitude don't judge. I let the feelings come to surface and lift away. Feelings of hurt, smallness, and regret from the abuse I'd left; feelings of potential, hope, and self-love because I'd gotten out.

The time and attention I gave myself on those walks were healing. It was about forgiving myself as much as grieving, and identifying my aim for the future as much as rehashing---and then letting go the hold on---my past.

I've never gone to formal therapy. Many have told me I should. I have nothing against it, can't pinpoint a reason I didn't seek out help for healing from a professional. I just didn't.

But I did walk. And I wouldn't be where I am right now if I hadn't.