Have you ever felt completely alone? Like nobody has ever been through exactly what you’re going through. There’s no way they can understand you. And nobody wants to be around you, Debbie Downer. Just keep to yourself, Negative Nelly. You suck the joy out of a party.
I’ve been there. In fact, I think that for a while, I was the mayor there.
But you know what? None of it is true. People have been where you are. They will understand you. And the more you isolate yourself, the worse you’ll feel.
I have a tendency to withdraw and isolate myself when life gets hard. It’s a tough habit to break. Instead of allowing those I love to comfort and encourage me, I feel like I have to protect you from my mess. And myself from the possibility of rejection should you not understand me.
Everybody who has visited my blog this year knows that in June, one of my close friends died of cancer. The urge to withdraw was strong – so strong it almost felt like I was wrestling a physical being. The night Rick died, his wife and family and I left hospice and returned to their house, where I promptly escaped reality with a Xanax, washed down with a glass of wine. (Kids, this is dangerous and, in fact, not real intelligent. Do not try it at home!) But as the days and weeks passed, I came to realize that the grieving is important, and while parts of it must be done alone, some of the most critical aspects of my grieving required interacting with other people. An enormous amount of my healing came from sharing memories and tears and laughter with others who love Rick like I do. And another part of my healing is helping Rick live on by sharing his love, his wisdom, and his stories with others.
Around the time Rick died, one of my best girlfriends (whom I consider a sister) lost her dad to a freak accident at his job. My grieving process, though very different from hers, gave me necessary insight for really being able to be there for her.
In this week’s chapter of “The Hiding Place,” Corrie ten Boom reminds us that sharing our lives with people doesn’t just mean that we get to spend the fun times together; we also share sadness, worries, and burdens.
But what I had not realized in solitary confinement was that to have companions meant to have their griefs as well. (ebook location 3388)
Thank God – and my friends – for not letting me withdraw. For understanding me. For helping me grieve. For letting me live out the lessons by grieving with you.
This post is part of a weekly discussion on Corrie ten Boom’s classic, “The Hiding Place.” You do not have to read the book to weigh in on whatever topic is being discussed. However, if you have written a response to this week’s chapter, feel free to link it up at the widget below. Then go visit Jason, my co-facilitator, at Connecting to Impact, to see what he has to say.