Not alone

Confused? Worried? Overwhelmed? You are not alone, no matter how isolated you feel.
Photo by Maia Habegger on Unsplash

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”Shannon L. Alder

The online world is full of contradictions, and none more obvious than its tendency to create feelings of isolation even as it facilitates digital connection. Still, the anonymity and freedom from scheduling conflicts that the internet offers are, in certain circumstances, essential to forming connections with others who understand some of the most sensitive problems people face.

All of us have situations in our lives that are not easy to talk about. Maybe we are private people who just don’t like sharing deeply personal information, especially if it involves violating the privacy of someone else by talking about their involvement. Or maybe we’ve found that there are some things even the closest friends and family can’t seem to understand. Fear of being misunderstood or judged harshly can cause us to withdraw, thus creating a vicious cycle of alienation and defensive withdrawal.

This separation from others often happens even in common or fairly universal circumstances such as illness, disability or death. Imagine how the problem is magnified when the challenges are attached to some form of stigma, creating feelings of shame, embarrassment or vulnerability.

In such situations, an online source of support can be helpful. While every resource (including the ones linked below) must be evaluated carefully to determine whether it will provide support consistent with one’s own beliefs and values, the very existence of such sites can affirm that, in the words of Fred Rogers, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”

Below are just a few samples of blogs that address deeply personal, difficult life challenges that affect more people than we might guess. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Life is hard and full of struggles. If you or anyone you know could use these resources, spread the word and help others know that none of us needs to feel alone in this big and frightening world.

Are you, or is anyone you love, struggling with suicidal thoughts and emotions? You are not alone. This site offers understanding from professionals and lay people who have been there.

Has your adolescent child been snared in the dangers of online pornography? You are not alone. Visit with a hopeful mom who is navigating that particular minefield with courage and determination.

Have you been rejected and forsaken by one or more of your adult children? You are not alone. Other parents who have faced that particular heartbreak have words of support for estranged mothers and fathers.

Do you have a loved one who is incarcerated? You are not alone. Individuals and organizations can help you weather the storm of being separated from a family member who needs your love.

Has your life been affected by hoarding? You are not alone. Share the perspective of adult children who are coping with the fallout of growing up in a home where normal life was crowded out by stuff.

This short list is far from exhaustive. There are online support groups for pretty much any difficulty out there. The caveat is that there is a great deal of online “information” that is untrustworthy, deceptive and damaging, so discernment is of paramount importance. But with due diligence and caution, it’s possible to find helpful, potentially life saving or sanity saving guidance as well.

We humans are often overwhelmed and floundering, but we remain capable of remarkable things when we reach out to each other in faith and understanding.  Whoever you are, whatever you are facing…remember you are not alone!

12 Comments

  1. raynard

    Julia I was supposed to tell you that we were watching Aretha Franklin’s funeral last week. Got me thinking” I need to update my will from 2002 when I went over to Iraq. As for my 3 adult daughters, I text the middle one I call” my Hawaiian Daughter( She was born over there. The other 2 youngest send a text once a month. The oldest have not heard from since 2014. Now to the hoarding thing. It’s Mary and not me. When she goes to her family reunion this month to N.C, I will stop short of calling” I 800″ Got Junk and 1800 Pack Rack. Ok, start the music” Themes from the A-Team and” Mission Impossible T.V show not Tom Cruise Movies I digress. Coming from a big family of 9 /5 older sisters and 2 younger ones, I’m not that close to any. It use to be my baby sister but, a call or text every now and then. But she has helped me out when she could if I needed anything. I have 10 nieces, 4 nephews,7 grand nephews,1 grand niece. Most I mentioned are adults and I do not have a relationship with any. Mary has 13 grandkids and I have a relationship with the 2nd oldest. We video chat from time to time. There are no” Leave it to Beaver/Make room for Daddy/Father Knows Best/Patty Duke/Gidget Moments with any nieces or granddaughters. I don’t point fingers or blame. I just keep open to learning new ways of dealing with younger people. especially when some of my old ways are not working. I admire and respect what you did for my birthday reaching out in person. Most people would have made excuses instead of time to. Bottom line, You mad a friend for life. Thank you not for what you do for others but who you are.

    • Raynard, good luck with your will updates and the emotional conflicts that are always involved when one seldom or never sees or hears from family members or friends. I truly feel your pain there. After watching how the years have unfolded not just for me but for many friends I know, I have come to the conclusion that the changes in the world — accelerated by technology but with many other causative factors — have played havoc with personal relationships. I realize things were never perfect but in past decades we all seemed to understand that people need each other and relationships are worth keeping even when it gets tough. Now people seem to bail out on whatever is hard to preserve. I love what you said “I just keep open to learning new ways of dealing with younger people, especially when some of my old ways are not working.” A good thing to remember. I am very glad you were happy we came to your party. I had been threatening intending to do that for many years and finally we did make it there. Now maybe I can someday make it to the Philadelphia Flower Show, hee-hee.

      Re: the hoarding — I think women are much more easily drawn into that than men. So much of the “stuff” I need to get rid of is tied in some way to a person I love or once loved. I keep all my cards and letters, which you can imagine amounts to many box fulls at this stage of life. Not to mention gifts big and little. And don’t even ask me about photographs!! Next time I get working on cleaning out I just might download the music from A-Team or Mission Impossible– great background! “Your mission Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to pry that woman’s fingers off all the stuff she is holding onto. This tape will self destruct in 5 seconds or else she will get hold of it and hoard it somehow.” Or maybe Mr. T: “You don’t need to keep all that junk, FOOL!!!!” 😀

  2. MaryAnn Clontz

    What a blessing you are to many of us! Thank you for doing the research & sharing your insight! May the light shine brightly for those who need guidance.

    • Thank you Mary Ann. My light feels more like a very low flame — maybe just embers by now — but I’m trying to keep it alive and if anybody is able to benefit from it, I am glad. I appreciate your encouragement! ❤

  3. Harry Sims

    One of the most popular names for many of our clubhouses and groups is YANA — you know what that means.
    The website for Alcoholics Anonymous is: https://www.aa.org/
    I am in my thirty-second year of continuous sobriety.
    YANA
    Harry

    • Harry, that is quite an accomplishment and I salute you. I had never heard the acronym YANA but it’s a good one! Thanks for sharing the link.

  4. Julia, A very beneficial post for those who often are not certain of where they can turn for help.
    -Alan

    • Thanks, Alan. Online sources can be great starting points for finding help that is specific to one’s individual circumstances.

  5. Good morning, Julia!
    Thank you for providing this list of resources!
    It made me think of a website that I reserved for a hobby that never got off the ground. Out of curiosity, I went to the site, and godaddy. com is using it as ad space! Godaddy isn’t even the site that I reserved it through. Hmmm. It makes me want to at least upload a place-holder, like “site under construction …. In the mean-time, check out these interesting sites:” and then perhaps I could put links like those, to those and other helpful sites.
    I’ll have to look into that, in my spare time ….! 😉

    • Susan, if you are paying to reserve a web domain, I don’t think they have the right to advertise on your space. I would look into it and complain to whomever is doing that.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I’m not only checking in but checking on you and Matt. I hope and pray that you’ll be safe in the days ahead with the looming Hurricane Florence that will affect so many. We will plan on evacuating on Wednesday in the motorhome, inland and south. I’m glad that I’m not alone in thinking that everything has changed, so different from the simpler times that we grew up in. It makes me very sad to realize changes are everywhere, this out of control world, and the lack of sincerity and caring from the younger generation. I’m really glad we have a special friendship here! Please let me hear your plans for the week. Stay safe! 🙏🏻

    • Hi Sheila, I have been thinking about you ever since the first news of Hurricane Florence started hitting the airwaves, and especially just recently as it seems to be turning more in your direction. I am hoping this finds you safely evacuated to wait things out. I hope this goes without saying, but you know you would be welcome to stay at either of my homes (the ones with furniture still in them, that is 🙂 ) although the northern Virginia home would be the obvious best choice. That is where Matt and I came to on Monday and where we will be staying until the storm and any related surges have passed. Our York home is in evacuation zone B which has not been put under mandatory evacuation orders, although A was under mandatory evacuation as of yesterday morning. But I still don’t plan to go back down there until the worst is over. I so totally agree with you about how sad the world seems to me right now. It would be bad enough to live through a happy or even normal world without Jeff. But at times it seems unbearable to deal with all the challenges alone. Thanks so much for your steadfast friendship!!

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