Too Much Ado About Nothing
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Over the course of the last 12 years, and particularly the past two, I have come to absolutely abhor a pair of phrases that frustrate the eyeballs right out of my head, no matter who says them, or how earnest the sentiment might be. I sit in silent horror as those people in our life who should know us best and love us most…my family… turn their heads and walk away in disgust, when we need them most, and toss one or both of those phrases so casually over their shoulders; “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do…”, and/or “I wish there was something I could do…”
I have the dubious distinction right now of standing at the verge of homelessness, with an eviction notice in hand, dealing with the very real possibility that my son and I may actually end up living in my car…which is in desperate need of repair. The unhealed, untreated, work-related injury I’m suffering has devastated every aspect of our life, leaving me unable to find suitable work, unable to provide for my son, pay my rent, or fix my vehicle. If I end up homeless, I will not only lose everything I own, but I may well have to give up my son, as well. My whole life is unraveling around me, and I cannot find the resources I need to pull it all back together.
Now granted, perhaps my family (wrongly) assume that I might be anxiously searching for a saviour (if you are looking for help with a cyberbullying related problem please visit our online abuse help center), looking for one of them to solve my problems or fix my finances for me, when what I search for are the means and opportunities I need to be the hero of this story; for my son, and for myself. Living with the knowledge that not one of my family members would offer us a bed, knowing that we have no “home” to go to…is crushing. I can’t even reach out to my “loved ones” for support, because they “don’t want to hear it.” And so this situation brings with it a brand of outright desolation I buckle under the weight of, sometimes, because I carry it alone.
What would one imagine I might need or want most in those desperate, desolate moments…? A decent job with a decent paycheck? A usable car? A sweet publishing deal? A grand opportunity? Or maybe some Dickensian benefactor to see me through until I’ve got my feet under me, again? Well, yeah LOL Okay. But…no. No.
What I need and want most in those stunning moments of destitution of heart and soul, is for one person…just ONE…to walk through that door and give me a hug. Just hug me. Squeeze me like you mean it even if you really don’t, I don’t care. Just give me something good and better to hold onto for a moment; maybe offer a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, a lap to curl up in while I do. Come stand by me, watch over me and let me fall to pieces, so maybe I can finally cough it up, puke it all out and purge the traumas and horrors of the past 12 years that I have been forced to choke down and deal with, alone.
Ridiculous, right? Downright delusional in my world. But I say it to prove my point: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO.
I found the eviction notice stuck in my door, at 6:50 am, when taking my boy to the bus stop. After seeing him safely aboard, I went off to run errands, and bumped into a man whose face is familiar to me from around town. I stepped in line behind him and he said, “You’re not smiling today. Are you OK?”
I gave him a brief, objective account of the injury, the legal battle, lack of work, lack of income, the eviction notice, and as I spoke I noticed how pale and ashen he was; his body trembled slightly and his hands were shaking. I asked if he was alright.
He said he was afraid that he was dying. Awaiting the results of a barrage of tests he’d undergone for some pretty serious neurological problems he was having, he was beside himself with fear. He explained that the damage to his neurological system was directly due to a long life of alcohol and drug abuse. He said he wasn’t afraid to die, he was afraid to die alone, and that no one would care because during those years of abuse, he’d alienated everyone who’d ever loved him. How’s that for an abrupt change in perspective? Suddenly my troubles seemed trifling.
Heads or tails
He made his purchase and we bid each other good day as he left. I lingered for a moment to chat, before heading home. As I stepped up to my car, I found a penny, heads up, beside my driver’s door, and I thought, “Gee, today must be my lucky day!”
Yet as I reached for the door handle, I noticed the man across the lot, sitting sideways on the driver’s seat of his pick-up truck; door open, feet on the running board, elbows on his knees…and wearing an expression of utter desolation. I remember thinking that dreaded phrase, “I wish there was something I could do.” And as I hated myself for thinking it, I looked at the penny, mustered my courage, and marched across the lot.
“Look what I found,” I said, holding out my cupped hand. He held his own out and I dropped the penny in it.
“Well,” he replied, “today must be your lucky day!”
“No, sir, not today. This is for you. It may sound silly, but all I can do for you is care a little bit, say a little prayer and hope this brings you the best of luck.”
By the expression on his face, you’d have thought I’d just handed him a million dollars cash, tax-free ;-) and a clean bill of health. He told me he was going straight home to polish the penny and put it somewhere he could see it all the time, to remind him that somebody cares (if you would like to get involved with Cybersmile and change lives, please explore our volunteer section of the site).
I walked back to my car feeling foolish and feeble. Yes, I was happy to have brightened his day a little, but my gesture seemed so sophomoric in the light of that man’s troubles. And then something amazing happened. As the man drove past I noticed that his face was no longer ashen and grey, a little of the color had come back to it; that forlorn expression of utter desolation was gone, and he was even wearing a tiny smile. Now, I tend to hoard and treasure every act of kindness I have ever received, and know how powerful such can be…and suddenly, my feeble efforts didn’t seem so feeble, at all. Because I remembered that there is ALWAYS something you can do. Kindness is free. And all it takes is a moment, to speak, to listen, to acknowledge…to care.
Kindness is Contagious
One of the very things that makes Cybersmile so extraordinary to me, is that everyone here is doing something.
From those reaching out for help, to those offering it; from the Positivity Shrine to trained advisors…we are all here with the willful intent of doing something meaningful…and it works. Lives have been changed in positive ways because Cybersmile offers us a place to gather and share support, encouragement, commiseration, resources, kindness, care and positivity. I see the power of kindness, every day, both in the virtual world and the real one.
And it is SO easy to pass along…a smile, a moment of eye contact, a kind word, a friendly greeting, an acknowledgement…such simple things take no time from our days, but lend vast amounts of positivity to others’.
What if, when we stumble upon negativity online, we each make practice of ignoring the hate and posting a positive comment? Heck, why not post two? If even half of us were to privately enlist help of friends/followers to counteract the hate without acknowledging the bullies…then suddenly, some poor soul who moments ago was drowning in negativity would be swimming in kindness and positivity. Imagine the impact that might have on a stranger? Positivity gathers immense power, and kindness is contagious. We each hold in our hands the power to hurt and the power to heal. I choose kindness.
Because I know that kindness in and of its-self, is not miraculous; yet, one tiny kind act may just be the miracle someone really needs today. Biodh se amladh.
FROM ME TO YOU
Music plays an important part in my life, so I like to try and finish each of my posts with a suitable Positive Playlist – I hope you enjoy it!
- Matchbox Twenty – Push
- Scars On 45 – Give Me Something
- Jason Mraz – You and I Both
- The Commitments – Try a Little Tenderness
- The Grateful Dead – Dire Wolf
- Jethro Tull – Nursie
If you are affected by any issues touched upon in Kristin’s post or feel the need for any further help/support, email [email protected] for a trained advisor 24/7. To learn more about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the following suggestions.
- Bully In Progress – The previous post by Kristin
- Who Are Cybersmile?
- Social Media Cyberbullying Guide
- Total Access Support For Online Abuse
- Every Parents Nightmare – A first hand parents account of a teen cyberbullying suicide
- Cybersmile Corporate Partnership Program
- Become A Cybersmile Sustainer
If you would like to contribute to our blog or have any questions/ideas, please email [email protected] and someone will be in touch.