Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life. Pythagoras
We all know the feeling of facing a new, life changing journey and feeling very, very alone. I lived alone in my head the first year after my “suspicious” mammogram. No matter what I was doing or who I was with, I felt completely disconnected and isolated.
For the past week, I’ve recognized that feeling in my daughter as she works through her loneliness at college. As a brand-new freshman in a brand-new environment, everything is foreign. She’s homesick for her parents, her brother, her own bed and her old life. Every day is a challenge. Every new experience is a struggle. There is no soft place to land, because home is no longer home.
We’ve talked numerous times and I can only repeat the mantra: “It will get better.” How do I know? Because life has taught me the secret to climbing out of the loneliness hole: Friends. Not just the kind of friends who are fun and chatty, because being with them often makes loneliness worse. No, I’m talking about friends who “get it” because they are (or have been) in that hole too.
Over and over again I’ve had the experience of talking to other survivors about how it feels to be alone in a crowd, how others don’t understand and yet judge and how it feels to still be in the very thick of it emotionally while everyone around you wants to move on. Without empathy we have no ladder upon which to climb out of the black hole of loneliness.
No matter your struggle, be it cancer, divorce, a new job, going away for the first time to college, or any of life’s other challenges, empathy from a support network is the key to healing. That’s the foundation of WhereWeGoNow and WhereWeGoNow as Cancer Survivors at Facebook. We all need to find someone to take our hand and walk the journey with us. As Helen Keller put it so well, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
Thank you for taking my hand and journeying with me. Let me know in the comments below how you have found support from others on your journey.
Survival > Existence,
Image courtesy of Fabrizio Lonzini