Tonite, I was able to help a friend. She's pregnant and ridiculously, desperately ill because of it. She can function some days and some days she can't even do that. And she has 3 other kids and a husband who works 2 jobs. So, when I got off work tonite, I changed into some loungey clothes and headed over to her place. I picked up supper and helped take care of the kids and get the baby to bed and just keep her company while she waited for hubby to get home.
A couple years ago a friend had a migraine or double vision or something that she ended up in the hospital overnight with her infant. She called and asked if I would come and spend the night with her. I did.
A very dear friend of mine had baby #2 and had a short, but surprisingly intense, bout with post-partum. Just a couple of really bad days and one day just really needed someone else to be there with her. I did.
I have given moms a break from being moms and just let them be women. I've given couples a break to be just married again and not parents for the moment. I've tried to help married friends realize how good they have it. And I've tried to help single friends realize how bad it could be if we insisted on trying to get our own way at the expense of everything else. I have tried to help college students see beyond this semester or the 4 years they are in school to the much, much larger picture.
If you truly have no hope in life, you can't do any of those things. You can't see the other side of it. You can't see your way out of it. You can't see the light at the end of the tunnel**. You can't see beyond your own nose, or face, or hand, or home. You can't get past yourself.
That can be a dangerous and scary circle to get into. You can't see past your self, so you start trying to figure out what's wrong with you. In doing that, you lose track of what else is going on in the world around you and lose touch with it, thus making you feel more isolated and alone, and making you focus even more on your self and how to fix it.
But, if you can get a glimmer of hope. If you can get a glimmer of possibilty that someday, something, could maybe be a little different than today. Then sometimes you can grab hold of that mustard seed and help a friend. And remind yourself that you are useful and valuable and maybe, possibly, there is nothing wrong with you at all. Or, maybe, you are useful and valuable and you need to remind yourself to intentionally look beyond your nose once in awhile. Or you need to ask a friend to (metaphorically) smack you with a 2x4 when you get too engrossed in your self.
When that flash of clarity shows up, take advantage of it. Help the friend nearest, closest, most immediately to you, that you can get to the fastest, or that asked you the most recently, or that has the least baggage. Whatever you can handle in that moment, pounce on it. And, as I said to my mom once, ride that horse til it dies. Those flashes will become moments, will become hours, will become days and hopefully weeks and months. That originating horse will die. But another will come along. Keep riding each one until you can't anymore.
Believe me when I say, if you have no hope, you can't see past your own nose. The last couple of years are surprisingly hazy in my memory. There are long periods I can't remember anything from. Yes, partially because nothing memorable happened. But one facet of that 'nothing memorable happened' is that I wasn't attempting to do anything because I couldn't function beyond working. I couldn't make myself do anything where much was expected of me. If you didn't expect anything more from me than for me to show up, I could do that. I did things, I was involved in things, but I was half on auto-pilot and half on fumes.
Now? Now I'm doing much better. I don't just love my job, I adore my job. I don't just love my students, I adore them. Love has become too cliche and too meaningless in our society, the feeling in my soul and chest is stronger than "love." I am in a much better place to pour into multiple students. I am in a better place to desire to go to work and work for someone who appreciates who I am and what I bring to the office. I am in a better place to be there for my friends and offer them something, not show up and sit like a bump on a log or even show up and suck energy from them.
Tonite, hope is helping a friend. Something very simple, something I enjoy doing, something I am able to do. And that is something I haven't been able to say for quite awhile.
**If you've ever struggled with depression, like hard-core, no one gets this, christian music is too nice to help, kind of depression, give this a listen. Third Day "Wherever You are" album. I listened to it and literally thought to myself "They came through a dark place to write this stuff."