"A window breaks down a long dark street
A siren wails in the night
But I'm alright 'cause I have you here with me
And I can almost see through the dark there is light"
-- "Feels Like Home," Randy Newman
One of my greatest fears, a fear I surely share with many, is that someone I love will be hurting and there won't be anything I can do to help. Over the past forty-eight hours I have spent many a tearful hour on the phone getting a glimpse into the deeply personal struggles of one of my closest friends. It has been for him a hell with no exit.
Since gaining my first glimpse into his personal hell, I have found myself reaching out to the people who have been there for me in my darkest times. It's interesting the way our mind seems to connect the dots for us. It was almost automatic that in considering how I help a friend, I reached out to the strongest people I have ever known. In fact in reaching out to a woman who has been my mentor, my friend, in many ways a mother to me and the ultimate example of compassion, I was reminded of something she once told me about strength. She said that you surround yourself with strong people when you are particularly weak and reach out to those in need when you're feeling particularly strong. She didn't just tell me this particular gem of advice, she embodied it. I can't count the number of times she reached out to me when I was weak.
It's interesting that in realizing the struggles of others and in desiring nothing more than to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel we are reminded of the times in our own lives where we couldn't gain the perspective we needed to keep fighting the good fight. I have been needlessly reminded of many times in my life when I was neither strong nor driven, but I have also been reminded, fortunately, of the outcome in those circumstances when I lost my way or lost hope.
There are so many things I could say here, though vaguely and in a way I can only hope will be read by the one who needs it most, the most important of which is not to give up. I truly believe the saying about it being darkest before dawn. All too often we lose perspective or get bogged down in our own struggles and what we need most is someone on the outside looking in to tell us they can see progress or think we're doing alright despite everything. I have had someone in my life for the past eight years who has reminded me at the most critical times that everything is going to be okay. She tells me to hang in there when she can hear the heartache and frustration in my voice and she has been my biggest cheerleader. I only hope that I have in me that kind of compassion because I want nothing more than to help share the burden of someone else's personal hell.
Too often we point out everything we've done wrong and we neglect to take a moment to appreciate and give ourselves credit for the things we've done right. I think of the times when I have made mistakes and rather than beat myself up over those mistakes time and time again, I like to remind myself that I was either smart enough or not stubborn enough to reach out to a handful of people who really put me back on the right track. Was it easy? No, but it's possible and that's all that matters when you've fallen off the right track. Just remember that no matter what, you can turn it around and get things back on the path you need and want to be on. And, you don't have to and shouldn't have to do it alone.
I don't believe in absolutes and thinking a situation is impossible to survive or turn around is no exception. There is always hope. Sometimes you simply need someone else to hold the flashlight to guide you out.