In light (or dark, depending on how you look at it), of a teen Parkland Shooting survivor dying from suicide last weekend…I feel the need to bring up a pretty important topic.
CHECK ON YOUR STRONG FRIEND.
Do it now. Do it tomorrow. Do it often.
For they carry the weight of the world most days.
Some of you may be wondering…but who is my strong friend?
- The one you call to cry to. To tell about your bad day at work. To weep in their arms when you go through a bad breakup. To vent about your family. To vent about your other friends (let’s be real…we’re all human).
- The one who creates “soft landings” for those tearful moments. Who you know will always be there to understand and listen and hug and love on you.
- The one who always shows up. The “reliable” one.
- The one who *seems* to have her shit figured out – maybe she has a good credit score, or her taxes done on time, or her skin regimen downnnn.
But, mostly, they are the one who reminds you to check on your strong friend.
Those gentle reminders they give the world. That they are having a hard go of it, despite what’s on the surface.
- The insta memes they “like”
- The way they say “we all feel that way somedays” when you’re pouring your heart out to them
- The way they seem to bottle things up until they get drunk AF off too many tequila shots on girls’ night and reveal their innermost angst towards their cubemate “Laura” – who by the way, “doesn’t even care about this job but got promoted faster” (yeeeeesh.)
All these things are teeny, tiny, quiet [yet disquieted] cries for help.
And it comes from those you least expect. The way some depressed people can still seem extroverted and “happy” to passersby.
They are the humans who have the hardest time admitting “defeat,” accepting their mental situations, or seeking help they need.
And HELP is a funny thing. A tricky little bitch.
I never realized how bad I had gotten about receiving help, until my hands broke in 2017 (at different times, thank goodness – haha).
My finger broke in April, and by May I had lost my shit a bit.
Despite it being only a finger…it was on my right hand, and I’m right-handed. I had never broken a bone before (yes even as a child), and it shook. me. up.
- It felt like no one was helping me. A week into my break, someone even asked me to help them ice their twisted ankle – bring them food, take care of them. And I did.
- It felt like no one checked in on me. Like breaking a bone didn’t matter.
- I had countless doctor’s appointments, and splints, and x-rays.
- I couldn’t do my own dishes.
- I had a hard time showering.
- Putting on my clothes.
- Tying my shoes.
- Living alone, I felt lonely. Isolated. Like I would die alone one day eaten by the cats I didn’t have yet.
- I felt like my body betrayed me. And realized my own mortality for the first time (crazy, I know).
- I went to a somewhat dark place mentally for a temporary amount of time
Yes…this was all over a broken finger. And yes, there are certainly much bigger problems that people have in the world. But this was my problem. And my low.
So, with the break, came a break up. I broke things off with my long-term boyfriend, reset my life a bit, and decided I needed to make some changes.
And in the aftermath, I heard one thing over and over from friends, family, and even the ex-bf:
“I DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED ANY HELP. YOU NEVER ASKED.”
And they’re all, technically, right.
I didn’t ask.
I didn’t say anything.
I kept my head held up high. Smiled all the time. And cried by myself face-first into my duvet cover when no one was looking.
But I’ll tell you the same thing I said to all of those people, with stifled tears welling in my eyes.
“What would it have taken?
For you to realize that I needed help from you, the way I give to you all the time?
Would I need a full body cast?
Would I need I need to lose a limb?
What would it have taken for you to help me, unasked?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I learned SO MANY lessons from that broken finger. And was forced to really engrain them in my brain when I broke my wrist just 4 months later (the universe has a funny way of reinforcing lessons when we don’t learn them the first time).
I learned how to outsource things I need. And *directly* ask people for help.
I know now and respect that no one is a mind reader.
This blog post *isn’t* to guilt you all into being there for people when you didn’t know they needed anything.
They are responsible at the end of the day.
This post is to remind you that we’re all human
Even the most robotic, Type-A, high-achieving boss bitches out there.
We all deserve to be checked in on.
We all deserve to have people look out for us too.
The strongest people still have vulnerabilities. They still need attention.
This doesn’t make them weak. Or insecure.
It makes them mortal.
If you think they effortlessly glide through the tough parts of life, you are wrong.
They are. We are. Resilient as fuck. Hardest on ourselves.
And above all, we need to be loved. And cared for.
And reminded that people don’t take us for granted.
You of course teach people how to treat you.
And you HAVE to ask for what you need.
[ You all know how much I preach and teach how to ~own~ your own life ]
But…to the rest of the world…
Can we please give the strong people in our lives a day off every now and again?
Someone’s strong friend