I care

These past couple of weeks I’ve been working through some stuff. I discovered that a friend had died last year; then I discovered that he’d committed suicide; then my husband’s brother’s best friend died last weekend (had a heart condition and didn’t wake up); was talking to a friend at work and she was telling me about 2 friends of hers, brothers of 17 and 19 that were in hospital after a car accident (they’d hit a tree) so I thought speed was involved and wondered if alcohol and/or drugs had also had an impact – well speed was certainly a factor it turned out. She told me this on Tuesday morning – both brothers in critical condition with the elder brother (the driver) not expected to live. That night he died – she came to work the next day and was a mess. She’s only 19 herself and I guess this is the first friend of her age who’s died. She went home and cried for several days. On Thursday evening I caught up with an old friend, we’d been drinking buddies from way back, and he shared with me about how tough this year has been for him. He lives on his own in a neighbourhood where I also lived alone (before I met my husband) and we are pretty honest with each other. He was telling me about how depressed he’s been this year, about a boss who bullied him, about drinking most nights, not looking after himself, not taking his drugs, not doing any housework…

And I’ve been thinking  – Graham died and I didn’t know. Phil is depressed and I DO know. I could help – or at least provide a helping hand. And if that means he has less reason or inclination to commit suicide, then it’s worth the effort.

For the past 4 – 5 months my house has not been really clean. I started the gardening business and was too tired to clean after I’d gardened (or – I didn’t care enough to do housework when I got home after gardening) – so my husband did the washing and tidied the kitchen most days. I haven’t done much in the way of housework for months.

Mid June my doctor said said he thought I might have had a TIA (mini-stroke) and initiated some tests at our local hospital and advised me I wasn’t to drive for the next 30 days. Thus postponing may gardening (that I drove to) and imposing a 4 week rest period. All in all not a bad thing as I had already decided I had been working too hard. I took a break from gardening – which was good for my body. Being a girl who likes to achieve things, I started making cot quilts instead (which I do during the winter sometimes) and managed to make about 6 cot quilts that I am planning to give away to needy families (through Women’s Refuge or church groups or similar – as long as they are not sold, and end up with families in need).

Now here I am, feeling like I really should return to gardening – and thinking about the deaths of people I know, thinking about suicide and my own encounters in the past – and not wanting anyone I know to have to experience the same despair and horrible  desperation that I’ve felt in the past…

This morning I started cleaning my home – just a few rooms – the bathroom, toilet and my bedroom – a mini-spring clean. It was a start. It was an effort that I hadn’t made for a long time but it was enough. A step in the right direction.

And I’ve been thinking about my friend Phil’s house – about offering to help him make things clean and tidy again. I know what it’s like to live on your own, to feel depressed, to feel like you don’t really matter in many people’s lives, to use alcohol as a way of numbing the pain… and I want to help him because it’s a little something that I can do for someone that’s not me. It’s a way to provide support and encouragement to someone else, a way of giving to another, of supporting another, of being their for someone else.

And (as I stated earlier) if this means Phil has less inclination to end his life, or has more motivation to … do anything (cook, clean, garden – anything) then maybe that’s worth it.

I want to believe I had an opportunity and I took it – for all the right reasons – regardless of the outcome. I tried. I cared. I did something….

Then maybe that’s enough.

I’m not responsible for Phil’s decisions, his choices, his outlook – but if I can be a friend in the best way I know how, then maybe that’s enough.

And if it’s not enough, then I will know that I tried.  I did something.  I tried to make his life just that little bit easier when he was depressed and not motivated because I’ve known that depression and lack of motivation.

I want to know that I tried. If nothing else, I tried. I tried to be the friend that he needed me to be; the friend that listened and didn’t judge; the friend that was there and tried to make life just a little easier. The friend that cared enough to do something… because if nothing else, she cared.

 

 

When I’m depressed…

 

Time is so obtuse

Isolation is my ally, it understands me

Regret is like flogging a dead horse

Shame drains me of all colour

Sorrow is my benefactor

Depression my ever present shadow

 

While hope is like the sunrise

Doubt like clouds

Insecurity like standing in the rain

Despair like a torrent

Desolation a hurricane

 

While hope is like the sunshine

It warms, dries, lights the way

It encourages growth

 

A friend is an umbrella in the rain

Companionship a raincoat

Laughter a holiday from cold and damp (even if only for a moment)

The possibility of another place and time

 

And hope is like the sunshine

Take a photograph so as not to forget.

 

HOLD  ON  TO  HOPE

For Graham

I’m sorry.

I didn’t know you well.

But maybe next time I will make that effort.

Except I didn’t know.

I’m not good at people stuff, or rather I’m not always sure where to draw the line and then I realise I’ve let the colours become blurred and I don’t know how to get them back.

I didn’t know that we shared the same disease; the same dis-ease;  the same sorrow; the same anguish; the same anything.

I keep thinking about you and wishing I’d reached out

Before you were more than a memory

Thoughts on fear, assumptions and my right to judge others – an opinion

This afternoon I was sitting watching a TV program and as I watched a few stray tears ran down my cheeks. While it doesn’t matter what the program was or what the specific issue was – what interests me is why I responded as I did.  And I think it’s about situations where we as people allow our fears and assumptions to override or outweigh the actual beliefs, characters and motivations of others – and how wrong that seems to me.

I see the masses (whose questions are heralded by the press) wanting answers to their questions when their assumptions are inaccurate and their motivations mistaken.

The story I watched was a fictitious one where a support character, let’s call him Bob, had to defend himself – his motivations, his character, his background and his faith all under scrutiny because of a violent act carried out by someone with a tenuous link to Bob. The link was what the media focused on – understandably – but what the program highlighted to me was the imbalance of media pressure (supported by the majority of people, underlined by their own sense of panic, and the need to bring to justice the perpetrators) when the insubstantial link had no bearing on the act carried out by the offender. And Bob was left having to defend himself to his countrymen and women for an act of kindness he had performed, and its innocuous link to the perpetrator, which then called into question Bob’s character, his motivations, his commitment to his friends, family, to his country and his beliefs.

One could look at the situation and say that the story and it’s violence justified the means (investigation and accusation). While I understand that, my empathetic response was for Bob, the person who had been accused having done nothing wrong other than being true to himself, and his own sense of right and wrong (ie, so nothing wrong at all).

As a New Zealander, these days I shun writing about politics whether international or at home. I would seldom discuss my beliefs in terms of politics, religion or similar with anyone other than close friends. I tend to keep my beliefs regarding those subjects to myself. They are not open for discussion unless I choose otherwise (which I seldom do). My character and attitudes, and my aspirations for my character development are a different matter; to me that’s something which is pretty much (certainly in this forum) ‘free for all’.

I’m interested in why I responded with such a strong reaction to what I knew to be a fictitious TV program.  And it’s because my empathy button was pressed. Why was that? Because I allowed myself to slip into the shoes of the character who had been placed in an unfair position (some would say victimised). His unjust treatment was based on what I interpreted as an underlying sense of fear, assumption and the need for blame.  I wonder how often we as people do this to others. I wonder how often I’ve done this in the past – and not realised the underlying reason(s) for my responses.

Please understand that my aim here is not to make a statement regarding violence at all; merely to investigate my own response to a fictional situation to which I felt an emotional response.

Note to self:  I don’t want to have to justify myself or my beliefs. I also don’t want to judge others, particularly when that judgement is based on my own fears, assumptions or what I think may or may not be someone else’s motivation. (Who am I to judge the motivation of another anyway? Have I seen inside their heart and mind?)

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  – Mother Teresa

I think the following quote is appropriate but my preface would be to alter’mistakes’ ‘perceived mistakes’:

it-is-eady-to-judge

[Quote above courtesy of Linked In Self Motivation Quotes]