We Need Each Other
“Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”
This quote by Maya Angelou is one of my favorites of all time.
Imagine for a minute what the world would look like if we all lived with this kind of empathy and understanding. No war, no crime, no hatred, no violence, no need for drugs/alcohol to make us feel better. We’d have each other and it would be enough.
People may think, “in your dreams!” and it’s true, I do dream of this. I selfishly dream of it because maybe if we acted upon these words, Keven would still be here - and so would every other person who died from suicide or an overdose.
What if none of us ever felt lonely or misunderstood? What if we were surrounded by kindness and never felt judged or belittled?
It sounds like unrealistic optimism. It sounds like something John Lennon would write a song about. It sounds too good to be true and silly for me to even bring it up. But it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Go ahead and call me an idealistic optimist, I've heard it before. : - )
What if Keven had someone (other than me, my mom or Therese) that could sit down for a face-to-face conversation and sincerely listen. What if he knew his value because there were people that empathized with him and built him up rather than seeing him as an addict and a felon?
Keven had a few real friends but they couldn’t be there for him when he was at his lowest. I understand. Being around an addict that is constantly high is more than most friends can take. It’s depressing, sad and ugly. I don’t blame anyone, not even myself (if I catch myself going there I try to stop it immediately). Keven’s sense of being alone was his second worst enemy (obviously heroin was enemy number one).
So what’s the answer? Two words: support groups. Seriously! Before losing Keven I had the support of S.O.L.A.C.E., a group for people who lost a loved one or loved one currently using. I found it when Anthony died and it became my support system. They are still here for me and were a huge help when I lost Keven.
Now I also belong to two online support groups for parents who have lost a child to suicide. As depressing as it is to log on to those sites, once you’re there you see the love, you feel the compassion. When a new person joins they receive tons of comments from the rest of us reminding them they are not alone.
My Facebook friends are also a form of a support group for me. I posted the other day that I was having a hard time and received love, concern, support - it helped so much. Plus, I am blessed with two very close friends that love me unconditionally, and my writer’s group who have become so much more than fellow writers, they always know what to say or not say when I’m having one of those days.
Family is not always the best place to expect support because they are grieving too and also need support. My family supports me by letting me talk about Kev and crying when I need to without trying to make me feel better. It feels like a hug-less embrace knowing they understand. I cried on the 4th of July, then got back to smiling because I love it when the whole family is together.
If Keven could have embraced AA or NA, maybe he could have eventually found someone that would stick by him unconditionally. But, if he wasn’t high, he was doing M.A.T. (medically assisted treatment, in his case Suboxone). In AA, if you’re on Suboxone or other drugs of that nature, they didn’t consider you clean. So he wasn't accepted at meetings where people knew he was on Suboxone (and he knew people at most meetings). There are alternatives to AA/NA out there that allow M.A.T. members.
So if you’re struggling or know someone who is, reach out and find a group of people who will get it. They need you as much as you need them. It’s difficult, but it’s so valuable. If you need help finding a group, let me know and we can research it together. Seriously! I want to help!
I’ll end with another favorite quote by Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”