Remember when we thought Facebook and Twitter were going to allow and even encourage this kind of support? I’ve been quitting them in stages for years, and it’s a hard habit to give up. The ability to speak where others MIGHT hear you is a pernicious and hollow stand-in for the ability to speak where others WILL hear you.
The main difference between adults and children (to me anyway) is that adults interpret what they hear instead of actually hearing it, where a child will listen to you whether you want them to or not. So when you combine (a) adults looking for human connection with (b) a platform where anyone can speak publicly, what you get is a whole bunch of people talking to themselves at each other about nothing, and getting progressively angry as they do. It’s a distressing pattern precisely because it’s so obvious and simple, and yet so powerful that we can’t seem to gather the momentum necessary to turn it around.
When I need to know who I can talk to, who I can ask for support from, I always come back to a line from Langhorne Slim’s song “Back To The Wild”:
I’ve had it better than some and I know I shouldn’t complain
Though my grandfather told me once that all pain hurts the same.
It reminds me that I don’t need to justify my feelings, and that anyone who asks me to is simply not listening. I honestly think that if we could only focus on this idea, that respite from judgment is itself a cure for many sicknesses, it would free up such an amazing portion of our lives that we could actually find the resources to help the people who REALLY need it. I just wish I knew how we were supposed to get there. It’s almost enough to make me wish I’d been raised religious! At least those folk have a Book and a Name to fall back on.
And thank you for this dialogue, Sahra! I’m really enjoying reading your thoughts, and grateful that you appreciate mine. It’s a relief to stumble across someone who understands without me having to ask them to humor me.