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Please Don't Forget to Reach Out to Those Who May Be Struggling

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This is hard to hear, but I am still hurting. I am very much still here. Although years have passed and time has healed some of my brokenness, every day still brings it’s own struggles. At first the outpouring of support was overwhelming, as it reminded me of the very real challenge I was facing. But as time passed, and the dust started to settle somewhat, I learned to appreciate those who made the effort. As the acceptance of my reality set in, I was grateful for any kind word, any acknowledgement of the circumstance. It meant so much.

Time has passed — days, months, years. While time is a healer, when your situation hasn’t actually changed (or has possibly gotten worse), it sometimes feels more overwhelming. Yes, I may have grown stronger, learned to cope better, risen higher, but sometimes it’s even harder. For now, everyone expects my strength, my family, my friends, myself. Most of the time I am there, fighting the good fight, feeling mighty and capable. But then there are moments, sometimes even days, where I feel overcome. Why hasn’t this let up? How much longer do I need to keep on digging down for deep reserves I’m not sure I have anymore?

But on the outside I smile, I toughen up and I persevere. And I know this is why you forget, I know this is why you think I have moved on, and you have too. And if I am to show a glimpse into the darkness I often still endure, you may sometimes even feel annoyed and unsure why I have to continue this way. You want me to be OK, I know. You want to know everything is now under control, and that brings you comfort for your life. But let me tell you, while I have come so very far, I sometimes feel like I am paddling backward. It’s one step forward and five steps back. It’s hard to hear this, I know, but this is my truth.

Life was pulled out from under me years ago, and I am standing on two feet, but sometimes it’s with very little gracefulness. Sometimes I’m digging my finger nails into the wall and clawing for dear life. When you do ask, your words a like a lifeboat. Knowing that there are those who “get it” and care, brings comfort and fuels me. And the beautiful thing is now I certainly am the first to ask, the first to reach out and get over my own discomfort and awkwardness when I see someone else facing a life-altering circumstance, either big or small.

This is a gift I have been given. Empathy can indeed grow, that much I now know. I hope when I am able to pass it forward to someone else, eventually it will come back to me too. And it does. And I am grateful.

Please, never hesitate to reach out. A kind word, a simple text
saying, “I’m here,” is all it takes. Don’t let your hesitation of saying the “wrong” thing stop you. It’s better to say something then nothing at all. Realize there are people struggling around you, even years or decades after they hit a bump on the road. Give them grace and space, but don’t forget them. I hope to do the same for you.

Photo credit: franz12/Getty Images

Originally published: December 22, 2019
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