Where to begin tonight? So many different topics that I could blog about (I've actually been keeping a list as they pop into my head), but I think I'm going to jump into one of those topics that make people feel a little bit uncomfortable. Heck, it even makes ME feel a little uncomfortable. So I would ask if you're reading this to continue with an open mind.
blogs that I tend to be a pretty regular visitor, the author of the blog came out to his audience as bisexual. (At this point, I think half of my audience is ready to cheer him on and the other half is ready to close my blog because they don't condone this type of "behavior." Patience friends. Read on.) The crazy part to me wasn't him admitting these feelings to a group of people (most of which he has never, and probably will never meet), but the crazy part to me was the fear that he had. That those people who had loved him for all of those years, wouldn't love him anymore. And the inner struggle that he had endured for years upon years with his own mind and his own feelings. Can you imagine all those teenage years into young adulthood when everyone is trying to figure themselves out, not EVER feeling like you could figure yourself out? Or never feeling like you're getting any closer?
When I was a junior in high school, someone that I had gone to grade school with (Kindergarten through 8th grade, private school...class of 18 kids) shot himself in the head and committed suicide. I'm not going to pretend like we were super close friends, because we weren't. Those years in grade school weren't especially my favorite times by any stretch of the imagination. But I did play with him and the other boys at recess (soccer, football, etc). And we were in the same classroom for nine years. After grade school we went to different high schools and started very different lives. He had always been a little slower in school, and often acted out because of it. This continued once he was in high school and I heard through the grapevine that things weren't going well for him. Probably not the best friends...not really working at school...making bad choices. And one day I got a phone call from one of my friends (she and I were going to high school together, and had also gone to grade school together) telling me that this young man had shot himself in the head and died.
This wasn't my first experience with death, so the funeral aspect of all of this didn't freak me out or anything. But the thought that terrified me? He felt like there was no way out. To take your own life...to feel like no one cared enough about you to go on living...to feel so alone...that terrified me. I decided in that moment that I never wanted anyone in my life to ever feel that way again.
No one should ever feel like they are completely alone. And if you're reading this...and you feel that alone...you're not.
I finished high school and went onto college to become a music teacher with these ideals in the front of my head:
- I want to make high school a better place than it was for me.
- I want to help kids achieve goals that they don't even know they can reach.
- I want all of my student to know that I love them, I'm proud of them, and they are not alone.
Funny how life doesn't always work out the way you planned it...
After graduating from college I taught third and fourth grade for a year in Minnesota. It was no means my dream job, and was probably one of the hardest years of my life. But looking back...and seeing the mark I left on those kids...it moves me to tears. When I was in grade school I never felt like I fit into the group of girls in my class. Boys were easy! Play sports. If you had a problem with someone first recess, it was forgotten by third recess. But girls? Yikes. Not even close to as easy. But I was determined to make my class of third and fourth grade girls get along. And was it easy? Nope! But I thought of that boy from my grade school class. And so we worked through problems. Instead of girls not including someone because they were mad, we stopped and talked about it. (Yes, I actually took classroom time for this...some lessons don't require a chalkboard.) And we had to do this several times. But you aren't taught how to interact and problem solve with people...how will you ever learn.
I left after a year, and to be really honest, when I left...I left. I didn't keep in contact. I didn't follow their lives. Mostly for my own healing. But this past May when I saw pictures of this class...and all the girls together...with their arms around each other...smiling and laughing...I thought of the boy from my grade school class...and smiled.
Sometimes I wonder if that boy from my grade school class is the reason that I'm so interested in people and how they act and interact. Sometimes it feels like I'm looking out into the vast multitudes of people, making sure that no one feels like they are so alone that they don't matter. Because no one should ever feel that way. Now, if you'll allow me to come full circle...
Tonight when I sat down and read Single Dad Laughing's post "The Darkness Before the Light" it really hit home. His darkness hit me. His despair hit me. His sadness hit me. I had one of friends come out to me within the last year. I was hurt that this person hadn't talked to me sooner. But the response they had received when telling others had been so negative they had simply stopped telling people. My heart broke. It terrified me to think that for even one second the person would have felt the darkness.
You don't have to agree with someone to love them.
If you're still reading, first of all...a serious high five to you for making all the way through this epically long post. Secondly, look at the people in your life...friends, co-workers, family, the checker at the grocery store...the person that needs a little ray of hope? All it takes is a smile. All it takes is a look in the eye to know that they matter...to know they're not alone. We have too many kids bringing guns to school because they are being bullied...too fat, too skinny, too goth, too emo, too hipster, too nerdy, too musical, too gay, too different, too athletic, etc. Remember when we were little and none of those things mattered? And we could all play in the same sandbox. The sand isn't different folks...it's just a bigger box. And adults, seriously...how do we ever expect our kids to learn how to treat each other if we can't do it ourselves? Knock it off. Chose your words wisely...once they're out you can't put them back. (Consider this your verbal spanking.)
And finally...the people in your life that really matter? Tell them you love them. Don't ever make them wonder. In fact, make them overconfident. Give those people you care about the conviction to know that they are loved...that they are never alone.
Live, laugh, love.