“There’s something about the thousands of glittering lights, the veil of nighttime that almost makes this place beautiful, especially in the reflection of the water. It makes everything askew, disoriented. There’s more truth in a ripple of water than in a clear day.” ― Ellie Lieberman
Warning: This post has triggers of loss and suicide.
Three years ago the world lost a beautiful soul, a friend of mine (and of many) who was perhaps one of the most intense forces of sisterhood in my adult life – she was lost to suicide and it was a very tragic and very difficult event that a group of us lived through in a small village far away from the rest of the world. It was an event that has changed the fibre of my being. Experiencing such intense tragedy, so acutely, creates a space in which you cannot help but transform. You must, to get through the grief. You must allow it to change you. After much resistance I gave into the pain and I became a more sensitive, aware person because of it – not only of other people, of my friends and my clients – but also I became more sensitive and aware of myself and the stories I tell myself when I am at my lowest.
Tragedy struck again last week when the life of another friend, linked closely to the first, was also lost to suicide. It was, and still is, a very difficult time for many people all around the world who are grieving the loss of this beautiful soul. It got me thinking again about just how intertwined we all are.
How even when it seems that we are worlds apart, even when we feel alone and disconnected – even then, we are still inextricably linked to each other. The relationships we build, the friendships we nurture, even when estranged – they will never leave us. We will forever be joined. Our lives are forever destined to affect one another. In life and in death.
I stood at the beach the other night and let the gentle ocean waves lap around my ankles as Bo and I lay flowers in the water and watched them be carried away by the outgoing tide. In a moments pause, staring out at the thought more about what all of this means. What it means to be so connected. What it means to be human in this world.
Everything we do, everything we say, our moods, our attitudes, our daily decisions are the equivalent to tossing a shell into a still ocean tide. They create little splashes that send ripples out into the world. Sometimes these ripples are hardly noticed. Sometimes they are gentle and lap softly against the shore. At other times, the ripples are larger, or they combine with other ripples, created by other people, and create waves so strong they rock boats and crash violently against the shore.
None of us stand alone, catching the waves and tides in our lives.Instead we stand together – affecting and being affected by each other. In good and in bad. There is no escaping it. Even when we are feeling most alone, our lives are woven tightly into the tapestry of the lives of others.
I found myself with heartache on that beach. Heartache not only for my friend who made one of the most powerful choices a human can make, but also for her friends, for her family and for all of those who will feel the ripples, the waves and the tides of the decision she made.
Life is full of waves and tides, the ebb and flow of human emotion and experience, the good, the bad and the mundane. We send ripples out to the world every day, ripples of love and laughter along with those of hurt and of sadness.
It is in the times of difficulty though, that those ripples allow us to see our own reflection more clearly than a still sea ever could. How we heal, how we support, how we connect – how we allow ourselves to feel the deepest of discomfort and allow ourselves to be changed by it – is more telling of where we are in our lives than they greatest of joys.
Life can be dark and gritty and gruelling at times and in a world that expects so much perfection it can be hard to talk about our struggles. It shouldn’t be that way. There shouldn’t be shame attached to those who are struggling, but there is.
Together we can send a ripple of change out into the world by fighting back against the stigma of mental illness. By being honest about our own experiences, by being honest about our own failings, by being transparent with our pain and our healing – perhaps when we do this we can create a landscape in which it is safer for others to do so too – and maybe, just maybe, fewer of us will get lost out at sea.
We are all in this together x