Reaching out from the dark side…

June 22, 2015

I get emails about people deciding to “follow” what I’m posting here. I appreciate that others find what I write to be something that they want to read and read more of over time. Hopefully I will be able to keep them interested or amused or both.

I visit every site and blog of everyone who “follows” or “likes” my blog, assuming that they give me enough information to get to their site/blog. Not all do. I may “like” their site in return, but I am so overwhelmed with daily emails now that I seldom choose the follow option, which would result in even more emails every time they post something. I do return from time to time to their sites to see what has been posted, since I was last there.

girl cryingA significantly large number of sites that I visit are filled with posts that have themes that I might classify as “reaching out from the dark side.” These are sites that are posted by people who are in the midst of pain or sorrow or anguish in their lives and apparently find some relief or release in the act of posting missives about their pain or anguish.  I get that. Writing about such things is very cathartic. Many are from what I would describe as “young people” and many are still searching for meaning in their lives. I get that, too.

I’m actually amazed and thankful that more of these people haven’t reached a stage of cynicism where they would lash out and attack a site like mine that may be perceived as having simplistic and overly positive advice for dealing with life. The “don’t worry; be happy” message that I often post may not only fall on deaf ears, but can actually offend those who are intent on being unhappy. By-and-large the people whom I mightsurrounded by sharks anger make up a relatively small group. Most people would rather be happy in their lives, but many don’t know how to fight the depression or despair that they are faced with on a day-to-day basis.

I hope that’s where my little blog comes in handy. The people who don’t want to be helped probably don’t reach out through blogging or most other means of communicating. I think that those who do share their mental state and the things that have put them there are asking for understanding AND help through their blogs. Help doesn’t necessarily mean professional help; most of the time it just means that they would like someone to sit with, to share with and to commiserate with. You can be that someone by reading their blog and leaving a comment or sharing a private message of support. Sometimes just finding a way to say, “Me too”, is enough, because it lets them know that they are not alone.

dark alleyThink of it this way – You are walking down the street and pass a dark alley. From the darkness comes a faint voice
that you hear calling out, “Help me.”  What do you do? Do you hurry your step so that you can get past the alley quicker or do you look in to see who it is that is calling for help? Do you enter the alley and try to help or do you turn instead and walk away? Yes, it is a bit scary. After all I did say that the calls come from a dark alley – places that are unfamiliar to us; places that we’d never go (or so we think), places that are dark. People can appear to be scary when they are depressed, even if they are not standing in an alley.

Life is full of those moments. People all around us are quietly calling for help. Some are calling out from the dark alleys of society (the dark side) but most are just calling you from right next door. These are your neighbors and co-workers, the people that you go to church with and the people that you socialize with on a regular basis. Do you recognize their calls for help? Do they need to scream at you to be heard? Are you so wrapped up in yourself that you cannot see or hear their pain, their needs? When they reach out will you be ready to help or will you turn away and hurry on about your business, afraid to get involved?

And, what if it is you who need the help? What do you think the poor traveler who had been beaten and robbed alongGood Samatitanthe road thought of the people who chose to ignore him lying there, until the Good Samaritan came along? What were those others thinking anyway? Do you relate more to them than to the Samaritan? After all, you have places to go and people to see; you can’t be bothered to help that poor fellow standing at the side of the road with his little sign. Maybe he did something to deserve his fate, you think. He’s not one of us, anyway; so, it’s best to just ignore him and pass him by. Do you think he understood? Do you think he forgave you?

So the lesson is that if you can help you should; because, someday it may be you standing at the end of that dark alley calling out for help or alongside the road with your little sign. Have a great week ahead and keep your eyes open and helping handsyour ear tuned for those calls for help. You can make a positive difference in somebody’s life this week just by answering the call – Hi, do you need help. Can I help? How can I help? Want to talk about what’s wrong? I’m so sorry, tell me about it.

Go for it. They’ll be glad you did and so will you. Reach into that dark place and pull someone into the light of the Son.


Someone needs you; will you be there for them?

March 2, 2015

“We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”  (Erik Erikson)

There was a long story in the Sunday Detroit Free Press about a local woman, whom repairmen discovered dead in her garage a while back. She had been dead for five years and no one had missed her! The story went into great detail about this woman’s background and how something like that could happen. It wasn’t as if the women had no relatives. She had brothers and sisters living in different parts of the country. And this didn’t happen in some out of the way place; but, rather in a nice neighborhood up in Pontiac, Michigan where homes are fairly close together – she had neighbors. The story recounted that she wasn’t really what we might call a hermit, just a very private person, with no friends locally and with a history of not communicating with her family members, sometimes for years. Sadly, her mummified body was found in her own garage, sitting in her own car. The body was so badly deteriorated that the coroner may never be able to determine the cause of her death. One might classify it as death by isolation. It certainly was death in isolation and that is sad.

In the paper’s recounting of this woman’s back story It is documented that she did have friends and co-workers at one time and even showed up for family events on occasion (rare, but it did happen). She was always recognized by everyone who knew her as someone who kept to herself and that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But she took her need for privacy to the extreme and got to the point where she apparently needed no one. She established this image so firmly in everyone’s mind that there was no one that saw it as unusual that they had not seen her or heard from her in years. She had set her bills up on an auto-payment schedule, so they just kept getting paid after her death until such time as the funds ran out. Eventually her house was repossessed through foreclosure and it was when workmen showed up to repair a hole in the roof that they discovered her body.

Had she taken to heart the little saying from today by Erik Erikson she might still have died, but she would have been missed a lot sooner. We’ll never know if she perhaps could have even been saved by someone who cared and became concerned about her when she didn’t show up somewhere or wasn’t seen for a while.

Gristly stories like this account aside, there is more to Erik’s statement than just watching out for each other. While humans aren’t classified as “pack animals”, we are normally social beings. We depend upon social interactions for reinforcement, feedback and self-assurance. It is important that we learn to like ourselves, but it is also critical thatfriends holdi hands we have the interactions with other humans that confirm who we think we are or help us to become the person that we would like to be. At its most intense and important level this human interaction is with our life-mate. I can no longer even imagine life without the one in my life who completes me. Perhaps that is why the loss of a husband or wife can be so devastating and really why those left behind often seek that level of companionship again.

Another obvious reason that we need each other is that we are all dependent upon the work and contributions of others to supply almost everything that we need. I haven’t seen anything but the trailers for the movie about “The Last Man on Earth”, but I can imagine that initially one could run around breaking into stores for whatever is needed; however, that supply is finite and since no one else was around, there would be no new supplies of anything. Systems such as the power grid that are fairly highly automated might run for some time, but event hey would faultier and quit after a while if there was no one around. So the things that everyone else is out there doing is important to me and what I do somehow is important to them, too.

From time to time we may be in situations where it feels like we’re alone. Maybe we are away from home, maybe even in a fairly isolated location. It is important in time like that to savor our memories of loved ones and friends and woman workingperhaps even to take advantage of modern technologies like Skype to reach out and touch them, if only for a moment. Texting also has a feel of immediacy that is somehow comforting; at least you know that the person on the other end of a texting exchange is there and aware of you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that sense of loneliness and reaching out to someone for relief. There’s no great honor in being known as a loner and it is no proof of your independence to shun friends and family when you could use help.

On the flip-side of this coin, it is not the right thing to do to allow this to happen with someone that you know. Being concerned about them is not being nosy. Taking steps to communicate with them, even if they have not made thecaring effort with you is reaching out, not reaching in to their lives. It’s not snooping when it’s driven by love or concern, so don’t let your friends or relatives become hermits. Sometimes, if the secrecy and withdrawal of a loved one is caused by factors like drugs or alcohol it is only through your aggressive actions to communicate that you might be able to save them from themselves.  Make them see you and then help them see themselves. Remember that we need each other. Help them see that and we’ll all be better off.