Most of you know that I am somewhat prolific on Twitter. For some time now, I have followed an American girl who runs an account called @AgainstSuicide. I have found the work of this young teen just so inspiring. in less than 18 months she acquired more than 100,000 followers. An amazing testament to her, and an appalling indictment on the state of society and its treatment of young people.
One tweet in particular popped up and drew my attention. It was from a 17 year old French girl. And my heart just broke for her because I could read in every single word she wrote the terrible feelings I had when I was at school.
I always struggle with this. A 46 year old engaging with teenagers over the internet. It smacks of grooming and just all-round creepiness and horror. But I try to be careful. I am always very up front about my age and intentions, which are simply to provide support when all else seems to have failed them. A friendly ear, a shoulder to cry on. Unconditional, unjudging, just someone to unload on.
This youngster, who I will call Cece (Hi Cece) had a huge falling out with her best friend and was being the subject of some real nastiness in terms of stories being spread about her, vicious put-downs, and she felt she just could not carry on.
One of the things I try to do with all my friends, everyone I encounter who is suffering, is to constantly repeat how, regardless of what else may happen in their lives, I care. Genuinely and completely. Even if I am a complete stranger, I still care. And reiterate how they are valued, they are valuable, and however weak they may think they are, there is an incredible strength just below the surface.
For people in Cece’s position, I often talk about my school experiences, being ostracised, bullied, hated, and trying to find my way through. I might be “old”, but I really, really have been there. I wasn’t sure how to approach this, but my first breakthrough came when I described exactly what it is like to lose a friend in that way.
It feels like your whole soul has been ripped out and there’s just this deep, dark hole left, full of pain. It becomes all-encompassing
This kid doesn’t want to trouble her parents either, because they have enough troubles of their own. That they won’t want to be troubled by her (supposedly unimportant) worries. I need to explain to her that, when their child is in pain, parents want to know, need to know. That her worries ARE important.
She often talks about how she’s fat, ugly, a tomboy. How no boy could ever like her. I started pointing her in the direction of many of my followers who are active in the fat acceptance movements.
I’ve tried to tell her my current philosophy. That bad things happen around us. They happen to us. And maybe we even do some bad things. But WE are awesome. When anyone asks how I am, I always respond “I am fucking awesome” and go on to say, if there are things that are not so great in my life at that time, maybe say “Work is kinda crap, but me, I am awesome”. And I think this is important. Distinguishing between our selves and events that affect us.
It really does break my heart because I know the pain. I spent so much of my youth (and a reasonable chunk of my adulthood) believing I was ugly, useless and unloveable. There were people who tried to “cheer me up” and tell me I wasn’t any of these things, but I never really believed them, not really. For a while I fooled myself that I believed them, but I didn’t. For the reward I get in sharing and using my experiences with others, I honestly would have gone through it a thousand times over. If I knew this would be the return, it would be worth it.
You are my cyberdad. I really think it
Possibly because they were really only said on occasions. What I needed was someone to stand by me, regardless of what else happened. Regardless of how I was feeling. Someone who was just always there. This, THIS is what drives me. The unwavering knowledge that others need this too.
As I have said previously, being there for people isn’t very difficult. It is rather like being on-call. For the most part, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to think about it. But for the people you are supporting, they KNOW you are there. They feel your presence with them, always. And if and when you are needed, you give as much time as you are able. You do make it clear that you also have other commitments, your own life, but whatever time you do have to spare is theirs.
It is kinda funny, Cece said a few time that I should just forget about her, and I have my life and don’t need to worry about a silly little 17 year old girl on the other side of the world. OK, I was embelleshing a little there. But the thing is, yeah, I don’t need to. I WANT to. That makes all the difference. I choose to be there to support people. I think I always will. Some “supporters” might say “Oh well, you’re ok, call me if you need me”. The more astute of us know to see through this.
I really hope Cece finds her way through this. She really is an incredible, beautiful young woman (I’ve never seen her, but do not need to in order to know she is beautiful). She, like us all, has enormous reserves of strength. Whether we realise it or not, whether we feel it or not, we have that strength. We just need someone to show us.
All of this is a continuation of my journey to change the world. One person at a time. Many of you are my dear friends because of this. Because of reaching out in a time of need. And I cherish each and every one of you. People might think that this is a very giving attitude, but it’s not. Because what I get back in return pays for it a million times over.
And for every person I have helped through tough times, I won’t deny it. It has been a bit of a strain for me. But I’ve got he energy for it. And because of doing so, I know there are others out there to lend me their strength.
Wel, I think that is about it for now. Massive thanks to my nzsecretsanta for the notebook to record blog post subjects in. I really appreciate it. And I hope to be writing much more once again.