Connections That Get Us Through the Dark Times in Life
By Susan Knight | SGP featured columnist
A while back, my friend and I were both going through difficult periods. As we leaned on each other for support, our get-togethers took on a predictable pattern. On some occasions, I would give her the floor to share about what she was going through. As she opened up and the tears started flowing, I would find myself feeling her pain and crying with her. Other times, she would give me the floor to share and get things off my chest. As she watched me crumple and break down, it never took long before she would be in tears as well. After four or five hours, we would end the evening with eyes swollen, makeup smeared, and having gone through a whole lot of Kleenex.
Obviously, there’s an appropriate time and place for this level of openness and sharing; and everyone doesn’t necessarily need or want the exact kind of interaction my friend and I had. Ultimately, what matters most is having those trusted connections where we can be honest about what we’re going through in our darkest moments, so we don’t feel completely alone with the weight of the world on our shoulders.
These connections are especially important as we get older, given the circumstances we’re increasingly likely to encounter. It’s almost a certainty that every one of us will experience a few major life challenges as the years go by, often in rapid succession: work related issues or a job loss; financial stress; separation or divorce; illness or declining health, be it our own or that of someone close to us; caregiving for ailing parents; the death of friends, loved ones, and life partners; and the list goes on. On top of dealing with the challenge itself, there’s the added pressure of putting on a brave face while staying on top of one’s daily routine. Even as a personal crisis unfolds, responsibilities don’t vanish and the rest of the world doesn’t come to a halt.
When the pressure mounts, close connections where we can drop our guard and reveal our hearts are crucial for our health and wellbeing. Without that kind of support, we become far more susceptible to unhealthy coping behaviours, like needing an extra drink to unwind, or relying on some other substance to take the edge off. Or turning to gambling as an escape; or a shopping addiction that puts us deeper and deeper in debt. We might neglect our health; or find ourselves withdrawing and sinking into depression. It doesn’t take long to get pulled into a dangerous downward spiral.
Those get-togethers my friend and I shared played an essential role in helping both of us get through our respective difficulties. I’m grateful we were able to be honest with each other about what we were dealing with and how we were (or weren’t) holding up at various times. As I shared openly about what I was going through, I felt the burden on my shoulders ease. The difficulties were still there, but articulating things to someone who genuinely cared made a huge difference. The circumstances didn’t seem quite so suffocating and overwhelming. My friend’s concern for me and faith in me was nourishment for my soul, helping me find much-needed hope and optimism.
Someone who listens from the heart, remains by our side as we push through the pain, and points us toward the light at the end of the tunnel. These are the connections that get us through the dark times in life.
About the Author:
Susan Knight | SGP Featured Writer | Contact the author: @ http://skfreelance.com
Susan is certified health and wellness coach with a focus on personal growth and inner wellness. She was a regular contributor to Social Work Today Magazine and is a featured Health & Wellness Columnist for SGP.