(Provided by an OD contributor)
In college, during a favorite course of mine, I heard something that I will never forget. “People are great buffers for stress.”
This stuck with me, in part, because I have always been a bit of a loner. I thought I didn’t need anyone to help me with my stress. I didn’t need anyone to be happy, and I didn’t need someone else’s opinion to dress the way I wanted or eat what I liked. How could people help my stress?
For the remainder of that year, this statement opened my eyes in all types of ways. I began to realize there’s a difference between being someone who enjoys alone time and being someone who rejects the care and concern of others. If I was in a bad mood and kept to myself through the day, the mood never really improved. Unless of course, I was diligently practicing meditation or positive self-talk (I wasn’t). However, if I made time to listen to a friend’s day, or talk to my family all of the other negativity I thought I was facing alone wouldn’t seem so intense. It was therapeutic to talk and think about something other than myself. To my surprise, it actually helped me and the other person.
If you have healthy people in your life they will take an active, genuine interest in your troubles and wish to help you solve them. This really got me thinking that maybe I hadn’t always picked out the best people to be friends with. I think my lone wolf syndrome was actually a byproduct of negativity from bringing the wrong people into my life. I also believe it was a form of protection. Sometimes we cut ourselves off from the world to heal. Other times when we are damaged we have trouble seeing the outside perspective that we need to stand ourselves right side up again.
My mom always told me that she knew if I was distant with her it was because I was doing something that she wouldn’t like or wouldn’t agree with. In my experience one of the most dangerous events that take place during depression, substance abuse, and different types of emotional pain is isolation. Not only do we isolate ourselves but we also start to believe the negativity to be true. We start to believe that we can’t get out of it. When you start to do things that you know are wrong, you start to surround yourself with negative people that make the same decisions to provide a way to rationalize your actions. In my case, I didn’t realize that a lot of my friendships were one-sided. I didn’t realize the emotional toll some of those demanding friendships took on me. It’s ok to take time and look for quality people. You may have thought differently, but I promise they are out there.
God will always make a way for us as we are His children. I learned quite a bit about myself while taking this class. I even got to the roots of my own sexual abuse as a two-year-old child. Learning the hard truth is the gateway to healing, and you CAN handle it. As human beings, we have to be able to face our pain and ask ourselves the right questions. This is a skill. I hope to continue to write and have open discussions with all of you to get to the bottom of our pain together. We will breathe life into one another.