Three things have inspired this week’s blog.
Number one is the (honestly) overwhelming response to my blog from last week (Drugs Aren’t The Problem – read it here), the second is the delightful weekend I spent with my mates and the third is Lady Gaga’s recent Grammy’s win.
(Some may assume a tenuous link and you’d probably have a fair point but stay with me.)
On Saturday I was down on Philip Island (which is an island on the Victorian coast. Called Phillip) in one of those Airbnb holiday homes circa 1970; vast and warren-like with mismatched décor, more beds than any room is really comfortable accommodating and with never quite enough kitchen utensils for its overload of guests.
It was a mates 40th (which is weird because I’m pretty sure I’m still 24) and a heap of us went down to help him celebrate.
Among some of the crew were some friends I hadn’t seen for a while.
As so often happens at these large gatherings it’s a race against the clock to see as many people as possible, especially as some were only there for the afternoon and had other engagements and weekend commitments.
It’s so easy to go in for a hug and ask the standard question “how are you babe?” and then exchange the standard responses, giving information about work and holidays and receiving information about work and holidays but learning nothing of how their life really is.
And hand on heart, I had some of those conversations.
Fleeting, lovely but without enough time or space to really reveal anything past the day to day.
As the party filtered out leaving only the 20 or so behind who were staying overnight, I started chatting to a good friend.
His company is always easy, he tells a great story and we laughed under the night sky, relaxed and at peace with life.
As other friends wove in and out of my evening, I had many conversations, exchanged many stories and laughed until my sides hurt.
I felt connected, loved and safe.
The tide of the party eventually delivered me back to my good friend and as we sat side by side again, we lulled into companionable silence.
After a while he began to speak.
And he shared some of the really heavy things going on for him at the moment.
I would never have guessed from our previous chat that he was having such a rough time.
In that moment I realised that most people don’t have the time or space or the courage to truly open up; even to those they love and trust the most. We can see our mates regularly and still have no idea about the struggles going on within.
We don’t know about the forceful current raging beneath the seemingly still surface and so we sit as an ignorant observer on the bank of their riverbed of pain.
My blog last week caught more attention than anything I’ve previously written.
Because it raised an issue which everyone can relate to.
Mental health and emotional wellbeing is an issue that reaches far beyond the festival gates.
This isn’t about drug taking.
This is about creating a world where people aren’t afraid.
Read the full blog here!
In a world where we are arguably more connected than ever by technology, we need to be making sure we are holding space to connect emotionally.
If my good friend almost didn’t confide, if it took him so long to share, how many other people never speak their truth or express their deepest fears?
How many of us are exclaiming niceties and exchanging information about work and holidays but never expressing our truest self?
What does this silence do?
Well, to borrow the words from Paul Simon himself (and I should probably make a nod to Art Garfunkel too) “silence like the cancer grows.”
We carry around pain, problems and fears and internalise them, pushing them down with an assumption that no one really cares about our issues, presuming that others don’t have the time to hear our shit, sitting scared of potential judgment and sinking in our own shame.
Even the most connected of us can suffer in silence, closing ourselves off from collective wisdom, support and the most fundamental human need – connection.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying that you should open the floodgates and just start divulging your issues the moment a waiter named John swings round with a plate of hors d’oeuvres at Belinda’s cocktail party on Saturday night, nor should you start pestering your friends to confide in you even though Karen has told you a million times over that life is tickety-boo right now. Don’t be a dick, basically!
But if you are struggling, be brave enough to reach out. There are support services, circles, groups and therapists readily available if you don’t have great mates right now. And if you do have great mates, let them help you. They want to help you.
Part of disconnection is feeling like we’re the only one in pain.
It’s so easy to scroll through social media and believe the bullshit filtered lives of influencers who’d have you believe that they are living their #bestlife which in turn makes you feel like a fucking loser.
It’s called marketing. Use my discount code! Fuck off. Whiter teeth and supplements won’t make people feel more loved. Love will make people feel more loved.
So stop comparing the worst bits of you to the best bits of others.
No body’s life is that perfect and very few show you the bad days. Unfollow fake ‘friends’ and connect with actual real life humans.
Problems don’t kill people. Silence does.
So if you have a mate who you know is doing it rough at the moment and you haven’t heard from them for a while, give them a ring. Let them know you’re there and that you care.
If you notice a change in behaviour, a rise in drinking, excessive drug taking, sudden reclusiveness don’t ignore it. Check in. Arrange lunch. Let your fellow humans know that you are there and that they are important.
Make the space for these conversations to come forth. Don’t just meet in a crowded city bar and expect your mate to open up! Head out to the hills and go walking, lie on the sand and look at the stars together, suggest a bike ride one Sunday morning.
Never push for information. Allow silence. Allow space.
Share yourself. Lead by demonstration and be brave enough to talk about how you feel as a human being existing in a busy, noisy time where comparison and expectation rule. Speak your own truth, your own fears, your own emotions so that your friend takes your lead and feels safe to express their own troubles too.
We are a collective energy, bound together in love and fear.
If every person chose love today, the landscape of our world would be so different tomorrow.
Yesterday, Lady Gaga’s Grammy acceptance speech popped up on my newsfeed (told you there was a link) and if you won’t listen to me, listen to her.
So if you see somebody that’s hurting, don’t look away. And if you’re hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep and go tell somebody.
– Lady Gaga
There is no shame in being human.
This life is not designed to be done alone.
Make space for those you love.
Allow yourself to be helped.
We are so much stronger together.
If you’d like to learn more about being part of a beautiful connected community of people who are dedicated to learning about their own mental health and so changing the results they see in their reality then hop over to my free Facebook group, That Crazy Thing Called Life (join here) where I’ll be running a free course, starting in a couple of weeks.
You can also join me at 11am Melbs time every Wednesday on Insta (emily_thatcrazythingcalledlife) and Facebook (follow here) where I answer your questions about being human (love, life, business) and the edited version of these videos are in one nice central place for you on my Youtube channel Emily Chadbourne (subscribe here).
Please feel free to comment and share and thank you very much for reading.