Perhaps you're like me...
What does that statement do to you? What does it make you feel? Do you immediately think, "You're nothing like me"? Or do you really, truly, deep down hope that I'm about to say something that resonates with you down to your core? Because you're just so tired of being alone on this journey and you're desperate for a connection, for anything that tells you that it's ok and you're ok and everything is going to be ok?
Take a minute and think about that. Are you the type of person who immediately gravitates toward others and the feeling of community or do you keep others at an arm's length and soldier on as you always have in the past?
Quite often it comes down to a knee jerk reaction that most people have. Similar to fight or flight, people have a natural instinct to move towards or away from other people. There is the group that is more inclined to be a part of a community. They naturally seek out groups and community of like-minded individuals. They believe that in that crowd there is at least one person that they can connect with and possibly form a true friendship. These people have an innate talent for connecting with other people. What do they do that is different? They relate.
The other group shies away from anything social. They are able to go and participate, but they don't have a sixth sense about really engaging with other people. When push comes to shove, they can do it but it's not easy and it's certainly not natural. In a crowded room they can find several reasons why they should duck out the back door. And sharing their fears and deeper thoughts with people like this? It's just not going to happen. What do they do that is different from the connectors? They compare.
Several years ago, I was trying to find my footing in a new way of life. I am a member of the second group. Call me an introvert, call me socially anxious... whatever label works for you is fine for me. But the bottom line is I don't connect well with others. Deep down I want to, I really do. But the whole idea is just terribly intimidating and it takes a lot of work. As I was exploring this new "world" that I was being introduced to, I met a couple of women who had been where I had been and recognized an anxious soul and kindred spirit in me. Or they pitied me. Either way, they helped me meet other women, get situated and give me guidance on how to navigate things. They gave me a lot of advice, but one that stood out to me the most while meeting these women and coming to grips with my own concepts of relationships and friendships was this:
Relate. Don't Compare.
It's a beautiful, simple statement. Most profound thoughts are. Relate. Don't compare. Instead of spending your time hunting for all the differences, look for the things you have in common. Look for the ways in which our lives have intersected and how they will continue to do so.
The same can be true for the emotional healing process. Instead of hunting for all the reasons why something won't work for you and why you won't be healed even though others that have gone before you are experiencing great freedom, look for the similarities. When you catch yourself comparing your situation to others, take a second and find one thing, just ONE thing, that you have in common. It could be something as big as "we are suicide survivors" to something smaller like "we are both women." There are similarities there. Be committed to finding them.
And as you find the similarities you will abandon the "everyone except me" mindset. You will no longer assume that everyone can be helped except you. That everyone can move on except you. That everyone can be happy except you.
You can be. And you will be. All we're waiting is for you to open the door, walk in and introduce yourself.