Last week we were plunged into a family crisis, which I will not go into here. It will be an ongoing problem and it struck us with the force of the proverbial ton of bricks. My husband, the rock that we all depend on to keep us tethered, has once again assumed that role. I, on the other hand, have teetered between constant sorrow and outright panic. How he puts up with me is beyond my understanding.
Friends have provided support in so many ways the most important of which, to me anyway, is giving their time to listen. When I say, “I can’t talk about it,” they stay quiet and wait. When I express my fears, they listen. If I cry, they offer their shoulders.
I have been lucky in life to have made good friends; even those I don’t see regularly can be counted on for support. We all need family and friends. Recently I read a newspaper account of a man who lived alone in rural Maine, surviving by pilfering food and supplies from homes in the area. He managed this existence for over 20 years. Can you imagine what that must have been like? Mental illness is likely a factor, of course; however, the thought of having no one to talk to for over 20 years—that just boggles my mind.
Some religious orders practice monastic silence, spending their time in prayer and work. But they are a community, and what they do daily, though conscripted, is dependable and serves a purpose. I’ve read that solitary confinement among prisoners, on the other hand, induces anxiety and can lead to severe mental incapacity, from hallucinations to the inability to think clearly. The difference between voluntary silence and forced aloneness is the difference between lucidity and confusion.
We need people; we need friends; we need each other.