I had a sleepless night. A beautiful soul left us yesterday at the hands of depression ~ one of the sleeping giants of our time. Depression is a silent killer and it often affects the most giving, loving and feeling people. It finds the people who make us laugh and the ones who are our pillars. The people we most often believe are strong and don’t need help – are the ones who need our help the most. The human mind, body and soul is a very complicated place. For many of us who experience the world with all of our nerve endings exposed, it can be tough to make it through the day. It is a difficult thing to explain ~ the experience many of us have who absorb the pains of the world. We ask ourselves why we were made this way – to feel so much. Ignorance would be bliss we chant. The world today is raw and full of disconnection and of not seeing. We are all numbing to various degrees – failed attempts at not feeling. And yet we are human and we must feel.
Last night I was haunted by many of the comments I read about Robin William’s suicide. I, too, used to wonder how people could leave family behind ~ a beautiful life behind. Just choose life, tomorrow will be a better day. I was once left by a family member and it is a horrible experience and so very tough on the living. I would never wish the experience on anyone. I hate suicide, but I’ve stopped asking the questions I used to ask. As with most things in life, suicide is a deeply complicated and layered issue. We all must scream why, but perhaps in different ways than we have. I’ve been on a journey to better understanding the human afflictions that bind us. Depression. Addiction. Difference. Struggle. Poverty. Pain. Violence. The recent shared experiences of many people in my circle of life have me questioning all I used to assume about these things.
When you have children and you see their minds and souls develop in the world it is a powerful gift. If you stop and listen you realize that life is really fragile. In this hurried world, we often take this for granted. Last year, I had a life-changing experience with my son. My complicated and delicate little boy ~ the one the universe gave a second chance to thanks to tiny cow patches on his heart. From the moment he came into this world he has been different ~ from his broken heart to his strong will to not eat or sleep or take the painless path. He is not easy to parent but he unlocks the secrets of the universe for me each day. I’ve always believed that we have the children we are given for deep spiritual reasons and that, like the life paths set before us, these are tests and experiences that help us learn the lessons we are here to learn. They are different for each of us. My son helps me see the world from new angles and I am so grateful for his road less travelled. But is it often very painful.
From the time he was given words (which was at a very young age), my son has always asked a lot of really deep questions. He intensely feels the world and he wants it to be a just world. It is often hard for him when life does not go the way it should (the pictures he has painted in his mind are vibrant and exacting pictures). When people are mean. When things don’t make sense. It affects his soul. He is my child. He has exposed nerve endings. Re-experiencing your own childhood pains through your children is a trip. It is a tap on the shoulder. This time you are the grown-up. Listen.
One day my son who loves learning was afraid to go to school. Afraid. We pushed ahead and I talked to his teacher and worked out a plan. I asked him to dig in. He did. I saw my son’s soul chip away. His teacher was slowly but surely shaming him into her tiny box. Making him feel less-than. We pushed ahead again. I called my own SST. We made another plan. We asked him to dig in. He did. Then one day after a tough day. He looked up at me at tuck in time and asked me why God made him this way. It wasn’t an innocent question. It was a question full of wanting to disappear. A question full of wanting to leave the Earth. Little seven year-old boys don’t know about suicide but they can feel the pain of not knowing their place. Can I tell you that as a mother this is a horrific feeling ~ knowing your child is in this much pain. I can tell you I remember as a child asking these questions about my place in the world and being alone. Feeling that escape was the only solution. Disappearing seems easy when you are in pain. Pain blinds us even when we are surrounded by love.
The very next day we finally stopped listening to what others thought we should do and we listened to our hearts. We pulled him out of school and figured out what to do next. I never thought I would homeschool my child. I never thought I would remove my kid from a class because of a bad teacher. Parenthood is full of I-never-would-haves that become your reality. This is why we must stop pointing fingers because we never know what we would do until we are there in the thick of it. And maybe even if we would do it differently, we should stop the judging and the shaming. Shame is what broke my child’s spirit. As I worked with him and others to help put him back together piece-by-piece, I realized how precious and vulnerable we all are. You know what healed his soul? Being heard. Learning new tools. Finding his place. Compassion. Knowing that he is lovable with his imperfections.
Be careful thinking that you are above the possibility of feeling pain so deep that you question your place on the Earth. It can happen to anyone. Life is hard and there are a lot of people shaming in our world right now. Shame is the killer. Yes, developmental challenges, mental illness, addictions and other afflictions play a role but it is how we as a society deal with these issues that matters. Shaming will never work. Let’s break the shamming circles. We are all guilty of shaming because sadly it is taught to us each day in tiny ways that grow and grow and grow. It’s what wars are built on. Compassion and empathy will save lives and end wars. So when we hear the news of deaths at the hand of suicide and addiction we might be better served to ask how we could have better loved those around us. How CAN we better reach out to those around us? How can we better see others? So many people are in pain right now. Let us build each other up. Let us embrace the fact that we are all perfectly imperfect. Life is vulnerable. Fragile. It requires soft handling. It is also very, very complicated. So listen with your full heart, even if it is not your own experience. I know it is a hard thing to do. I struggle with this every day. Show up and Love.