I gained remarkable insight this afternoon while sitting across from a wise, dear friend. As I shared what was going on in my life and the full spectrum of emotions I experienced, she helped me connect the dots on what others have tried to tell me. She helped me see how single focused (and selfish) I was looking at the world through only my lens.
I have had more than one person tell me ‘you are stronger than the average person’ and ‘you can’t expect everyone else to handle things the way you do’. I use phrases like “claim your power” and “you are not responsible for other people’s feelings” often. I insist that everyone has the ability to get out of any situation with enough willingness to change. Some people find this inspiring; others insist not everyone is willing or able to change. I previously thought if someone wasn’t willing to change, that’s their problem and washed my hands of it (much to the dismay of people more compassionate than me).
As my friend talked about the ripple effect people’s choices have on others, I began to think about water. I thought about my fear of drowning and how uncomfortable I am with my face wet. I panic quickly if my face is under water for long so I swim with my face up. Similarly, I am uncomfortable with negative emotions for long so I flip everything to the positive as quickly as possible.
Then it hit me…
Everyone can breathe but that doesn’t matter much if someone is under water drowning. Sometimes it takes a trained lifeguard with a floatation device to get the drowning person above water. Not everyone can be saved but that doesn’t mean drowning individuals deserve to be ignored or criticized for their choices. Lifeguards determine the safest way to intervene and do everything possible to save, even when it’s not comfortable. I can learn from lifeguards.
Depression is like drowning… No one chooses it.
When I was drowning in a sea of negativity, I had someone with a life preserver pay for me to go to therapy. I had people show up with love and support when I needed it most. I was willing to accept the help but I had help. I didn’t recover alone. I still have people who show up exactly when I need them and appreciate their patience with me while I discover things in my own time.
I am mindful of the fact people have differing abilities handling change and stress the same way people have differing abilities in water. I may be a speed demon when it comes to life changes but that doesn’t mean everyone else fits my timeline; the same way an Olympic swimmer is much faster than me in water. Even Olympic swimmers can cramp and drown. If I were to do a cannonball in the middle of a pool, I wouldn’t be appalled the people on the sidelines got wet.
There is a space between thinking only of one’s self and only of others. There is a space between being oblivious to the impact my actions have on others and being paralyzed by the possible implications. There is a space between being irresponsible and responsible for things that aren’t mine. That’s the space where I intend to float.
From my heart to yours,
Thanks for reading