When both of my children were babies, I would find myself rocking back and forth even though I wasn’t holding them. Often, when they would cry, I assumed they needed closeness. I would pick them up, place them on my shoulder, gently pat their back, and repeat, “you’re okay,” like a mantra in their ear. Sometimes, this sent them screaming and wailing. Mostly, this was what they so desperately needed – to know I was close, to know they’d been heard, and to know I would care for them.
Those days of rocking my babies are now just a treasured memory. Occasionally, one of my kids will need comforting and I’ll pat their back and whisper my mantra to them. I’ve never asked them if it’s soothing but soon, I can hear their breathing slow and steady and their mood level off. There have been many days in this last year that I wish someone would do the same for me. Hold me close, listen, and remind me I’ll be okay.
I was adopted at 3 years old with a bio sister, after spending 6 months with a foster family I’ve never seen again. Things were difficult and I never really fit in with their ideals of how children should behave. I made the arduous decision this year to consciously disengage and no longer contact them. This, along with some other significant events this year, has brought me face to face with my deep fear of abandonment and sense of loss. I’ve pushed other relationships to the brink, fought for the rights of my children both at home and at school, and have found myself battling depression on an alarmingly consistent basis.
I almost lost this year. Daily life is fairly busy, as it for most people, and as I moved through the obligations and activities leading up to my birthday this year, I sensed this looming sadness and weight. It was like a storm cloud rolling in from the distance, undulating and growing as it advanced ever closer. The week before my birthday, I’d experienced disappointment and chose to blame another rather than reflect on my expectations and lack of communication. This lead to a fight and that lead me careening towards this desire to no longer burden others with my expectations or my pain. I cried out and an entirely unexpected friend saved me that night – by listening. If you ask her, she’ll tell you she did nothing special. What so many fail to understand is that gesture is often enough. It pulled me back from the ledge and that grasp was enough to prevent me from falling over into the darkness.
If you’re on social media at all, you’ve seen the numerous celebrities and adoptees who have lost their battle. You’ve also seen the many posts, memes, offerings to those who battle depression and struggle with suicidal thoughts. If you’re one who is battling, you know, those posts don’t really do shit. In the moment, if you find the strength to reach out, I hope the person at the other end responds with love and respect. What so many don’t recognize is the incredible level of strength it takes to make that phone call, send that text, type out that DM, and so we don’t.
First, when you sense that cloud advancing, please let someone know. This might be your one chance to ask someone to check in with you and the frequency at which they should do it. Second, someone always cares. I know when you’re in that space and the voices scream over everything you think you’ll believe no one ever cared or they’d be reaching out to you right now. Third, be vulnerable. This one is hard AF, because you won’t want to burden anyone with your pain. But you’d be surprised at the people who will walk beside you, carry you, and help steady you in your weakest moments. Last, if there’s no one else, I’m patting you on the back right now. You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.
Written by KAD SuLyn Weaver