A word on wellness:
I was speaking with a friend the other day about these commercials we had both seen recently. Perhaps you've seen them too? They are commercials aimed at illustrating how ill-equipped people are to talk about/react to/support those who are affected by drug addiction - either personally or by a family member's use. Basically, the person in the commercial is trying to open up to their friend about this issue and the friend's reaction is awkward as hell. The person sharing the information is pretty much shut down by the friend who drops eye contact and doesn't ask any questions. My friend and I were remarking on how unfortunate it is that certain topics (not just drug use/abuse) tend to illicit this reaction from people. Some of the most difficult things in life can be the most uncomfortable to talk about, and often people will avoid these conversations at all costs.
This year (more than ever), due to some heartbreaking challenges endured by close friends, I feel compelled to insist that we all toughen up, open up and be there for each other. 2016 was a particularly difficult year for many of us and while it may seem that we are "connected" more than ever, it is often a superficial connection via social media. Someone might post about a difficult situation on Facebook and it is now easier than ever to post a supportive reply, pat ourselves on the back and feel like that's sufficient. Someone's family member passes away? Send a text and consider that awkward conversation avoided. Phew! Many of us are guilty of handling these situations poorly (myself included) and it's not because we're bad people. It can be very tempting to tell ourselves "oh she's so busy, a text will suffice, she probably doesn't have time to talk anyway" OR "I just wouldn't know what to say... they probably don't want to talk about it anyway." It's easy to convince yourself that it's the other person you really have in mind.
As someone who has sat with people while they process the most difficult situations (drug use, death, mental illness, sexual assault, and losses of all kinds) I can sympathize with how tough it is and the desire to avoid it. BUT... I also know the power of choosing to connect with someone and to support them in these moments. The bottom line is, many people are suffering in silence because of the taboo or uncomfortable nature of their situation. Many people aren't getting the support they need because the topic is being avoided by either or both parties. The last thing you want a suffering friend to be worried about is protecting you - but they will often try. So let them know that they don't have to, you can handle it.
Now, you are all the experts on your relationships. So if a text truly does suffice then great! If you honestly feel that your friend doesn't want to talk about it, then okay. But please take a moment to ask yourself if the action (or inaction) you are choosing in these moments is because of fear and avoidance. If the honest answer is yes, then you need to do better. We all do.
The truth is, we will all be the person needing support at some point in our lives. (If that hasn't been you yet then thank your lucky stars!) Give the people in your life the best gift you can - your support, your eye contact, your hugs, your "I'm so sorry" - when they are going through something difficult. It will mean more than you know.
Tips for navigating tough conversations:
I usually like taking a moment each year to come up with a couple of concrete goals - and to set an intention. This year, I completely lagged and have zero resolutions for 2017... I'm actually completely fine with it. I tackled a lot in 2016 so maybe the 2017 resolution is to allow myself to just chill for a while? The goal of not having a goal, maybe?
Others are more on the ball and quite a few people in my life have mentioned either taking a break from alcohol for a period of time this year, or setting a resolution to take a closer look at their alcohol consumption and habits. Whenever someone mentions this to me I think of this website I stumbled onto a few years back. Basically, this guy out of Australia had started a movement of sorts: Hello Sunday Morning. It was basically a forum where people would pledge to take a break from alcohol for a certain period of time, and then post what they were doing on Sunday mornings when they would normally (the assumption is) be hung over. I revisited the website to find that it's been completely revamped now and that they have also developed an app. It could be interesting to check out. Maybe a supportive tool for anyone thinking about taking a closer look at their drinking.
"We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families -- recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.Because women's rights are human rights"
If you feel inspired and compelled to get involved with The Women's March on Washington there are a couple of ways to do so...