It’s been a while since I’ve made the space to sit down and write some shit. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve made space for…anything.
A little more than three years ago my life radically changed. I got married, had a child, bought a business, was let go from a job, and got a new one. Consider this in relation to my life before all of this – single, man about town, not a care in the world other than myself.
At the start of all this change I had some serious changes in my support network. See, most people (I think?) take time to make big life changes, they talk to the people around them, they ponder, wait, consider. I didn’t do all of that. I jumped in head first. Overnight I went from being responsible for myself to being responsible for a family. Daily hang time with my crew became weekly, then monthly, then slowly non-existent.
I can’t even begin to explain how lonely parts of my life has felt in the past few years – all because my own doing. With a loss of friends, my mental health began to rapidly decline. The stresses of being a new dad, then a new dad again, then a business owner, then learning a brand-new job…yeah, I hope that paints a picture. A picture of a person who was slowly becoming more and more underwater every day with almost no outlet.
So, I self-medicated. I found ways to cope, to find support that is readily at my fingertips. Social media. I started to substitute the real life kikis with kikis in DMs and texts. If I couldn’t be with my friends, I’d bring my friends to me. But, let’s be honest, this wasn’t new per se. I was the kid who was calling my college every day after acceptance to find out when I would get my email address. “Why do you need your college email so badly?” I can’t believe this is a thing that came out of my mouth (but almost 15 years later who am I kidding?) “I need to log in to the facebook dot com.”
I (over)share everything on social media. It really is the way I stay connected. But I’ve heard from a few people recently that I’m not being ‘real’ online and that I’m substituting real life hang outs for online ones. That they have friends with families who are able to show up and party and kiki and whatever.
Let’s start with this. Every family, every parent, every person is doing what the fuck they can to the best of their ability. For me, working 10+ hours a day, helping to manage a business, teaching yoga, parenting three kids, supporting their various extra-curricular activities is a lot. It really is a lot for any person but again, go back to the beginning, all this shit kinda happened quickly without an on ramp.
For me, every day has been a lesson in survival. Read that again – I am just surviving.
For the past 6 months I’ve been seeing a really incredible therapist. He sees me as whole and complete, no judgement, and just offers strategies that might be helpful. I’m not going to him for anything specific but just a general “life comes at you quickly” kinda thing.
And so why don’t I share all this more often? Because I personally believe that online is where we share the highlights of our lives and participate in public discourse. But, here’s the thing, we all know when a friend is “not fine” based on their statuses or lack thereof. Hell, I have friends who will see a status I post and immediately text or call, “hey, you okay?” I’ve had coworkers come by and say “man, it really sounds like you’re going through it right now,” and thank heavens for these kinds of people. Sometimes we all need a little help up and reaching out isn’t always easy, not because I don’t want to but literally I don’t think to until someone is in my face saying “how’s it going?”
If you’ve got a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, you haven’t chilled with when that was the norm – reach out. If they’re flaking, reach out. Chances are they’re sinking into a dark, comfortable corner where being alone feels like the new normal.
“Well…what do I say when I reach out?” It really isn’t a whole lot about saying anything more than it’s about listening. Don’t think that if you’ve seen one person effectively be a superhero and get it all done and still manage to have a social life that all of us are able.
In the past month, I’ve been coming back into the light and I’m starting to remember how fun it is out here. I’m having lots more coffee and food hang outs. I continue to find incredible joy in my work. I’m still in love with teaching yoga. I’m becoming a better dad and partner every day. I’m cultivating new friendships and trying to revisit ones that I haven’t paid enough attention to. The problem is that time doesn’t stop when you’re going through shit.
Situations change relationships for better or for worse and that’s okay. I’m surrounded by great people who love and support me and I like to think I return that in kind. The friendships that will survive this low point are the ones that will adapt. The ones that don’t, will die.
If you’re going through some shit, you’re not alone but that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve love, attention, connection, and support. If you’ve got it in you, find someone and tell them, make your way out.
We need you.