Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Silences Can Be Deadly

I've been thinking a lot about support lately.

Things in my life really haven't been going how I would have liked them to for the past few months now. I've been pretty quiet as just existing has seemed to have sucked up most of my energy. Nonetheless there has been a discussion bubbling away in the back of my mind.

I was invited to be a guest blogger on about the theme of bodily-self determination. I wrote about my views of myself in the context of independence and having a disability. If you are curious about it you can check it out here. Writing that post really got me thinking about the theme of support.

I think we don't like to realize how interconnected we all really are. I think we all would prefer to forget about the part where we all depend on other people all of the time. Humans are social creatures and as such without contact and support from our fellow humans we would all be unable to cope with anything.

It has taken a lot of people to get me through the last few months. I'm sure it will take even more people before it is all over. I think that being put in a position where I have had to depend on other people, and consciously depend on them has made me realize just how important having support really is. Having people I can depend on to be there, and to help and support me has made so much of a difference I can't even describe it. Finding out that people care about me that much that they are willing to drop everything that they are doing to be there if I need them is a big deal to me.

I always find myself in a position where I don't like to ask for support or ask for help. I want to be able to do things on my own, and I think that people will think less of me if I ask them for help. It often feels like my role in life is to be there to provide support for other people, but never to ask for people to give anything back to me. I am constantly reminding myself that if I enjoy being able to give support to others when they need it and ask for it, then that is a mutual thing, it is okay to ask for support when I need it too.

I think my point isn't anything terribly difficult or profound, it's something that I've worked on growing a sense of for awhile. I don't believe anymore that anything is supposed to be dealt with by a person all on their own. In anything that I've gone through I've always found that talking about it has made it better. I've had to learn how to reach out to people and start those discussions, start connecting to people, start creating dialogue sometimes about really uncomfortable and horrible things. The things that are the most uncomfortable are the ones that are the most important to talk about because the silences we create around those topics are the exact same thing that gives those events power over us.

The saying is that it takes a village to raise a child, and that no man is an island. I think that no one can exist as their own separate entity. We are all products of how we intersect and relate to others. We exist in communities and circles for a reason, we are all connected and we all depend on one another. No one person can handle the burdens or struggles on their own. When you share them around each person takes on a tiny piece, and person by person, piece by piece, eventually the tragedy becomes manageable. The community as a whole steps in to learn how to support one another and be there for one another.

It is when we are silent and too stubborn to ask for support that we end up weak. That doesn't mean that the struggle as a collective is easy or without challenge, but just that somehow with support you know you aren't alone. You know you are one of many standing to fight this fight together. Although there are times when it is truly your struggle and you must go through a piece alone, I don't think that even then we are ever actually alone. People can hold us in their thoughts, and be on either side to give us their support and hold our hands. The trick is to know that you need it and not be too proud to ask for it. To not let the silences get the best of you.