Light the way

A friend of mine was kind enough to point out that I haven't written since February.  Well two things.  First of all, I went and got myself a real, bonafide J.O.B.  Like the full time kind where I have to show up every day.  It's putting a major cramp in my style and in my ability to write.  And secondly, my friend was wrong.  I have been writing, in what little time I have found... it's just that I've started writing, the book.  Insert screams here!

All jokes aside, I absolutely love my job.  I am a special education teaching assistant at an elementary school about 6 minutes from my house. I have the joy of working with some phenomenal women and the sheer blessing to work with some of the most miraculous kids I could ever hope to meet.  All of that and I have the same schedule as my own children, so I'm still able to be home for them.  Honestly, my job is nothing short of a miracle.

But enough about that, let's get down to the nitty gritty of why you're here.  You're waiting for me to say something really profound and amazing.  So here it comes.

There ain't no shame in asking for help.

Now THAT my dear readers, was seriously profound.

In the course of getting a full time job and you know, being a single mother, and trying to write a book and maintain a long distance relationship, and clean my house, and chauffeur my kids, and make sure they eat and sometimes have clean underwear, I have lost touch with a few of my friends.  I am not proud of this, and you all know who you are and please accept this as my very public apology.  So yesterday I reached out to a very dear friend whom I love immensely and I realized she was in big trouble.

Not the "I just killed someone and I need to dispose of the body," type of trouble; oh no this was much more serious that that.  My dear friend was teetering right at the edge of the cliff of depression. I only hope she didn't and doesn't fall in.

My friend is really quite proud. I think it's a British "stiff upper lip" thing.  But she's having a hard time.  She's a single mama too trying to make it all work, and folks let me tell ya from all the way up here in the cheap seats, this shit is hard.  To digress for a moment, I was telling someone the other day, "Oh yay, it's summer, now I get to maintain the upkeep not only of the inside of my house, but the outside too!"  For single moms, summer can mean double the work that we were barely staying ahead of anyway.  Back to topic.....

I was angry at myself for not reaching out to her sooner.  But I was also really sad that she didn't reach out to me.  It hurt my heart because I never want her to feel like she can't  count on me.  Because no matter how busy, crazy, insane, bananas my life and my yard gets.... my relationships always come first.  People always come first.  Weeds can wait.  In fact, if I wait long enough, there will be more waiting for me upon my return!

So my friend and I texted for a bit, and I sent her some inspirational quotes, as I am known to do, in order to lift her spirits.  This was one of them.

Bloody brilliant.

Sometimes all you need is someone to say, "You got this."  Sometimes all you need is someone to make you laugh.  Sometimes all you need is someone to take your mind off your own shit for a minute.  And sometimes you just need someone to listen.

One of the most important things I've learned across all three of the therapists that have been to in my life is this:  ask for what you need.  It's a lesson meant to be used in relationships but for me, I have learned to use it in my life.  Gone are the days where I think people can, no wait, should be able to read my mind.  I ask for what I need.  If I need you to listen, I will ask you to do just that.  If I need you to take out the trash, I'm going to ask you to do that too.  If I need you to just hold me and be quiet, I'm going to ask for that. It takes courage to ask for what we need.  We are all generally proud and like to think we can handle it all and wear the weight of the world on our shoulders and never break a sweat.  

I was talking to my friend Jessica the other and she told me her favorite quote of mine that I ever said to her.  Are you ready?

"Say something funny."

I died laughing.  She reminded me of the situation in which I said it... when stress was high and things were tense and I was beyond the end of my rope and I looked at her with pleading eyes and said, "Say something funny."

The best part about that story is that Jessica told me she was honored that I trusted her with such a huge responsibility.  

I love being able to help my friends.  I usually wish I could do more. But sometimes "more" isn't what they always need.  

My friend Michelle and I text each other weekly with some sort of "emergency" in which case the other is supposed to text something funny.  We've done this to each other for so many years that we have hundreds of hysterical findings from the internet saved onto our phones.  We know what to do.  It works every.single.time.  I may not be able to replace Michelle's air conditioning for her, but I can definitely make her laugh and at the very least take her mind off of things for a few minutes.  I take great pleasure in this, y'all.  It's become somewhat of a game between us now.  We see who can "out funny" each other.  The competition is fierce but nine out of ten times we are laughing so hard that we forgot who sent what.  It no longer matters.  Nothing does.  At least for a few minutes.

My point in all of this is to say, it's ok to ask for help.  It's ok to ask for what you need.  It's REALLY ok to ask your closest friends to, "Say something funny."  

Help doesn't always come in the ways that we expect it to.  In fact, it almost always doesn't.  That's the way life works.  It's here to teach us lessons and grow as people.  But there's no reason why we can't laugh along the way and support each other while doing it. 

I believe this phenomenon known in underground circles as "humorgasm therapy" goes both ways.  In asking for help, you are helping the other person too.  We all love to feel needed and wanted.  But more than that, we all love to laugh, and we all need to laugh.

Ask for what you need.  Let go of what you don't.  Reach out to those around you, make them feel needed.  Set your pride aside for a moment and let someone help you in whatever ways they can.

Today I went on facebook and saw that a good friend of mine lost her brother to depression.  Just over a month ago another friend of mine lost her brother to the very same thing.  Today would have been my cousin's 50th birthday.  He was like a brother to me and I lost him to mental illness that manifested itself in suicide.  Mental illness, depression, "the hole," "being lost in the woods," whatever it looks like, ask for help.  Ask for a hand to hold.  Look for the light.  BE the light for someone else.

It's easier said that done.  I know this.   Do it anyway.


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