the anti-suicide squad

Over the last few weeks, I have cringed every single time I have seen a movie trailer, interview, promotional material or review for the recently released movie: Suicide Squad.

suicide squad
photo credit: google images

I’ll be honest, I really have no idea what the movie is about other than it seems to have some comic book villains and Will Smith is one of the stars. I love Will Smith and I’m sure the movie will do really well at the box office.

Maybe if I was familiar with these characters and the plot the title wouldn’t bother me so much.

Maybe…

Probably not though.

It’ll probably be one of those words that just really bothers me the rest of my life.

It has affected too many of our family members.

I will probably always cringe when I hear the word: suicide.

But, I won’t stop saying the word.

I won’t stop fighting or fundraising or learning or sharing or walking in an attempt to prevent suicide.

And, our team, our squad, is back again this year…

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Choosing Grace 2015

We are the Anti-Suicide Squad and we are BADASS.

We are Choosing Grace.


IMG_6948For more information on how you can join us in Chicago on October 15th and/or donate (we have a long way to reach our goal!), please click on this link: http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.team&teamID=104761 or visit http://www.chicagowalk.org and enter “Choosing Grace” to find our team.


weekly rak up

#206. Sent a thank you to a friend to thank her for a very thoughtful and generous gift.
#205. Asked manager to turn down volume when everyone in the theater was plugging the ears from deafening sound. She was so nice about it and checked in on us afterwards.

back to school

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google images

Just like Rodney Dangerfield, I’m going BACK TO SCHOOL!

Starting tomorrow, I will log into my online class at the University of Missouri at Columbia (“Mizzou”) and start a two-year graduate certificate program in Positive Psychology. Founded by Martin Seligman, this is a relatively new field of psychology, although it draws upon theories and research from many of the great psychologists and philosophers throughout history. I am hopeful that this certificate will allow me to take the skills I have built in my college counseling work and branch out into other areas, such as life coaching and curriculum writing for the various kindness projects in which I am involved.

As I have learned through recent losses and the subsequent complicated grief I have experienced as a result, helping others really does make you feel better. I don’t mean to oversimplify here, but in my experience, it is completely true.

While I have always been drawn to helping others, the life-changing shift that took place after my step-father’s suicide, especially since my brother died the same way, completely altered the way I look at my own life as well as the lives of others. From the moment I learned he was missing, I started looking at him, his life, where he could be, and what he could be feeling through a different lens. I call it “the suffering lens.” It’s when I try to step into a person’s shoes and really feel what they might be experiencing, their pain. I know, I know…it all sounds strange and “out there”, but it’s what I do and how I see the world.

And, because I started to see the world with a “suffering lens” I became even more motivated to help others, which is why my work with the AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) became (and still is) so rewarding. I am actively helping, searching and fundraising for a cause that is going directly to suicide prevention efforts.

But my work with the AFSP did not prevent another loss in my own family…my sweet nephew, Patrick. When he died, my brain and heart literally could not process the magnitude of losing him, of losing another family member to suicide. It’s just too big. Too much. I’m still struggling daily with this loss and I’m “only” the aunt. I know my grief is secondary to his parents and others…I also know and respect that we all grieve differently.

My response to my grief last summer was to start performing acts of kindness in Patrick’s or “Noochie’s” name. I called them NoochieRAKs. Now that I reflect upon it, I think it was a defense mechanism – like denial or avoidance of the truth. But, it was positive and creative and it was helping others. I was completely overwhelmed and honored by how many other people participated in acts of kindness in his name. It gave me hope.

Now, as we approach the one year anniversary of his death, the feelings of sadness, despair and sorrow are slowly seeping in. I will let those feelings flow because NoochieRAKs and time have softened those sharp edges of grief…

NoochieRAKs also led me to the study of Positive Psychology and this certificate program. Last night when I started the required reading, I came across one of the reasons Martin Seligman decided to pursue this field. He wanted to research “the offbeat idea of a psychology about what makes life worth living.” (Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Seligman, 2011)

I wept. Life IS worth living.

martin seligman what makes life worth living


The #365ActsofKindness Weekly RAK-Up:

#146. Wrote thank you notes for school project.

#145. Ding dong drop-off dog treats. (Put together a belated “welcome puppy” basket for a friend’s new dog, will deliver this week!)

#144. Wrote thank you notes to some helpful friends.
#143. Returned a random shopping cart, which had rolled into a parked car in the parking lot to Home Goods.
#142. Gave a few new pets a new home through adoption.
#141. Wrote TWNMLL (The World Needs More Love Letters) letters.

the “s” word.

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(google images)

 

For my close friends and family who know me by my potty mouth…it’s NOT that “s” word. Although one day, I’d love to write about all of the benefits (at least in my case) of using four-letter-words. :o) This word has seven letters and, just like many four-letter-words, it’s part of my every day vocabulary.

The “s” word is SUICIDE.

I used to cringe every single time I heard that word. It was usually delivered in hushed tones, a whisper almost, like a deep, dark secret. That’s not to say that the word doesn’t bother me – it does. But it’s different now.

While we still have a long way to go with suicide awareness, prevention, education and advocacy, we are making significant progress by saying the word out loud. By taking away the shame often associated with the word itself, we are opening up a whole new dialogue that just didn’t exist when I first encountered it back ’93-94 when my brother died by suicide.

Some of the most powerful dialogue comes from people who have survived a suicide attempt. These individuals can describe in vivid and heartbreaking detail what they were feeling just before their attempts. These accounts provide critical information for physicians, psychologists, researchers, families, friends, etc., so that they (we) can not only assist the person in pain, but also analyze the details and make new recommendations and discoveries for mental health and suicide prevention.

I feel honored to have been put in touch with one such person. A survivor. Her name is Sara and she is this year’s Mrs. Montana International. Her platform is H.O.P.E. for Suicide Prevention and she is raising funds for the AFSP|American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On May 21st, she is running a half marathon and calling it “Running for Angels” as she will be wearing the names of friends, family and complete strangers who have died by suicide. I have asked her to add Brian, John and Patrick’s names to her list.

I am so grateful for people like Sara.

You can click on the following link to see her page and all of her courageous efforts:

https://www.facebook.com/Sara-Dukart-Mrs-Montana-International-2016-783768348374802/?ref=eyJzaWQiOiIwLjQ4NjQwODk1ODY4MzUwODkiLCJxcyI6IkpUVkNKVEl5VTJGeVlTVXlNRVIxYTJGeWRDVXlNQzBsTWpCTmNuTWxNakJOYjI1MFlXNWhKVEl3U1c1MFpYSnVZWFJwYjI1aGJDVXlNREl3TVRZbE1qSWxOVVEiLCJndiI6IjlkN2RlYzY1OWIyZTZkMmRhNDY3MzU1Y2FiZWUzY2ExNjI0NjVhY2QifQ

I just realized another seven-letter “s” word that is part of my every day vocabulary: SURVIVE.


 

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#79. Made a donation to AFSP (RAK of the Week):  https://www.crowdrise.com/afspfargo2016/fundraiser/saradukart (RAK of the Week)

#78. Delivered St. Patrick’s Day treats to friends, neighbors and teachers.

#77. Sent St. Patrick’s Day cards to a couple of friends.

#76. Helped a neighbor who was struggling with an online form.

#75. Donated gently used toys to Goodwill. (I always have such a difficult time letting go of the kids’ things.)

 

doubt.

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photo from google images

 

I love my weekly writers’ workshop…I really do. Only this week…this week, I’m filled with doubts. I’m doubting my writing ability, I’m doubting my voice, I’m doubting my direction, I’m doubting my lack of experience in the small room filled with extremely talented, accomplished and lifelong writers.

Doubt. It can really mess with your head.

I mean, the other writers couldn’t have been any more kind, considerate and helpful with their responses to my writing or more accepting of the feedback I gave to them on their pieces.

Why, then, am I filled with such uncertainty?

After the workshop and while I made the 20-minute drive home, my mind ran through the laundry list of changes I need to make to my most recent assignment, what I need to focus on for next week’s homework, and my writing in general. The task is daunting and, as I thought about “the list”, I felt butterflies in the pit of my stomach and my pulse quickened. As if someone knew exactly what I needed, one of my favorite songs, “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam started playing. I turned up the volume and decided to try to take Eddie Vedder’s advice:

Stay with me… Let’s just breathe…

I need to take a deep breath and calm down my mind. I think part of my apprehension may be that while I am willing to start the grueling process of writing about my experiences of coping with the suicides of my brother, step-father and nephew, I am still keeping up a wall around myself (and I thought all the walls were down!).

In addition, I keep questioning why I feel so compelled to write about all of this in the first place. When I think about it…reeeaaally think about it, I think I know why…

I have noticed lately that while there is an increasing amount of information out there about suicide – warning signs and risk factors, statistics and treatment options – there is very little information about the ones who are left behind. While doing a preliminary search last night, I found this:

Each suicide intimately affects at least six other people.” (excerpted from dosomething.org)

According to the AFSP’s website, 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year. If we take that number and multiply it by those who are “intimately” impacted by a loved one’s suicide, that means that there are 256,638 people walking around suffering the pain of this type of loss each year. And remember, that’s “intimately” affected, which doesn’t even cover all the other people who may have felt some connection to the person who died.

After thinking about those numbers, I felt a little less doubtful of some of my efforts, however, I am still trying to figure out my purpose, my direction.

Again, as if the universe knew exactly what I needed, I received a message shortly after I returned home last night. A dear friend is struggling with a family member’s depression and suicidal ideation. She wrote,

…Thank you for bringing suicide awareness to the forefront of your life. It is quite comforting to not feel alone.”

How could she know that her words during her time of need, would make such an impact on me?

How can I still have doubts?

 

For more information on suicide awareness and prevention efforts, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention|AFSP’s website: http://www.afsp.org

kept my word and the weekly rak-up

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As my mom would say, “Do you have time for one quick little story?” Two hours later, you were still listening, and there was usually a point or some connection (at the very end). And so it continues… :o)

Acts of Kindness #62. Kept my word.

A little over a year ago, I unexpectedly found myself getting my mom’s house ready to put on the market. After living there for 43 years, our family had accumulated so much stuff that it took several months to get it all cleared out. When I was finally making progress with getting furniture, antiques, clothing, knickknacks, books, old report cards, letters, art projects, yearbooks…her life, our life, out of the house, I started to bring in new stuff. I’m sure people thought I was crazy, but there was a method to the madness. I knew that the new pieces would make the rooms look bigger and more updated, which would be more appealing to the buyers (I’ll admit I’ve watched my fair share of home shows on HGTV). In addition, the new furniture was lighter and brighter, which, in turn, made the house look lighter and brighter after being so dark and heavy for so long. For me, it felt like it was time to make things right again in the house that had provided so much more than shelter for all those years.

One night while getting the kids ready for bed, I decided that I needed a full or double size bed for the large front bedroom. For the longest time, my mom only kept one twin size bed in that room. If you were a couple or a mother with small children, you either uncomfortably shared the bed or camped out on the floor with decade-old dog hair and terrifyingly huge dust bunnies surrounding you. The options were limited and I absolutely loathed staying there. So, in the middle of cleaning and clearing out, I decided I would spend $150 for a mattress in an effort to “stage” the room, but also because I wanted a place for people to sleep when we were there. I figured I would spend more money staying in a hotel or on therapy, so I said, “What the hell!” and went for it.

The next morning, I called “Sleepy’s”, a mattress place just a few blocks away from my mom’s house. The salesperson took his time going over all the options, including mattress styles, sizes, and prices. “It just so happens,” he explained, “that I have one mattress in stock, which fits your needs and it’s on sale.” I told him I would be there around 5:00-5:30pm that same day.

The kids and I went about our day as planned, except that we cut our visit with friends short because I told them I had to be somewhere around 5:00pm. As we were driving to the store, I could see dark clouds rolling in and knew we needed to get this mattress purchased and loaded up as soon as possible. I quickly pulled into the parking spot and walked in with all three (tired) kids in tow.

The store was completely empty and the salesman came right up to us, greeted me with a smile and said, “How can I help you?”. I mentioned that I had called earlier about the full-size mattress on sale. His face dropped and he said, “I’m sorry, I sold it this afternoon.” He apologized over and over again saying, “I get calls from people all day long saying that they’ll come in and they never show up. I cannot believe you actually came in to buy it. I’m so very sorry.”

Before John died and my perspective on life changed forever, I would have felt a little irritated or annoyed with the situation…but now I cannot help but look at the world through my “suffering” lens. All I kept thinking was – this happens to him all the time? People call him up, he takes his time explaining the various mattress styles and prices and then people don’t even show up? This was a man who took pride in his work and he was polite and helpful…  It makes me a little sad even now when I think of how quickly people dismissed him and the help he was offering them.

While the kids were testing out the “unlimited” positions on the various Tempur-Pedic mattresses, the salesman made arrangements with another store that was less than a mile away. We drove to the other store, picked up the mattress and loaded it up on top of the mini-van. The clouds were quickly moving in and it just started to drizzle as we sat at the last stop light just before my mom’s house. Somehow I made it to the carport and singlehandedly brought both the mattress and box spring into the house and upstairs to the bedroom before the torrential downpour. I made up the bed with the new sheets and comforter I had rationalized purchasing earlier in the day and our eldest daughter slept peacefully in the soft, comfortable bed with fresh sheets that night. Every time I walked up the stairs or passed by the room over the next several months, I smiled because that bed just seemed to complete the house. Day by day, the house was getting ready and I was slowly getting ready to let it go.

Fast-forward to last week…I called a car dealership to see if I could come in to look at an SUV. The salesperson, Mark, was helpful over the phone, asking about whether I wanted to lease or finance, did I have a trade-in?, etc. When we walked into the showroom Saturday morning to look at the car, Mark seemed a little surprised at first that we were there.

Of course, I immediately thought of the mattress salesperson and the importance of keeping my word.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t feasible for us to buy the car at this point, but we will most likely go back to him at a later date (and refer others to him as well)  because he was knowledgeable, honest and upfront with us. Mark, an older gentlemen with salt and pepper hair, glasses and a blue windbreaker, reminded me of someone. He was kind, had the most calm disposition and was patient with our kids. While he told us about the safety features, he also talked about his own three grown children all of whom he was very proud. He wasn’t trying to make the hard sell – he was more focused on building relationships. When we went back into the showroom to discuss numbers, he left the desk for a moment and I realized who he reminded me of…I turned to my husband and said, “He reminds of John.” Dave immediately agreed and we were both feeling a little melancholy after we left showroom.

In our daily lives, we are completing acts of kindness without realizing it all the time. This project continues to remind me of the importance of being kind to others. It helps me remain mindful that every life matters.

Regardless of how insignificant the promise, it’s important that I keep my word.

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#67. Wrote more letters for TWNMLL: http://www.moreloveletters.com/

#66. Held the door open for a woman (who then held the next door for me and my children :o) )

#65. Cashed in a couple birthday scratch-off tickets and gave one to the lady behind the counter.

#64. Let a man go ahead of me at the deli counter.

#63. Picked up trash in a store parking lot.

#62. Kept my word. (RAK of the Week)

#61. Held the door for a group of people going into a store

And speaking of keeping my word, a few months ago, one of my friends, Kim, sent me a link for “Because I Said I Would” an incredible social movement dedicated to keeping our commitments. Here’s the description from their website: We make and keep promises to end suffering, establish peace and build happiness. Our mission is to strengthen humanity’s will. We created the promise card to help hold people accountable to their commitments. Make and keep a promise to improve yourself, your family or your community. If you need a promise card to make the commitment real, we will send you one. The world needs you. For more information: http://becauseisaidiwould.com/

The Turning Point…

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photo taken from http://www.goodreads.com

 

My homework for the writers’ workshop this week was to answer the question, “What was the turning point when you decided to Choose Grace?”  I knew the exact moment and told our instructor that I would be happy to answer the prompt she gave me. Two weeks and MANY tears later, I only scratched the surface of that question. As it turns out, there wasn’t one specific moment, but a collection of moments that took place during the time my step-father, John, went missing and then later when he was found.

Many of my friends will remember my obsession with the children’s book, Wonder, by RJ Palacio, shortly after I went through that experience. At the time, I spoke with friends near and far about our favorite characters, passages and quotes throughout the book, especially toward the end (but I won’t give those away as I still recommend this book for all ages!). What I couldn’t explain at the time was that the most moving passage for me, was the following:

Hey, is this seat taken?

I looked up, and a girl I never saw before was standing across from my table with a lunch tray full of food. She had long wavy brown hair, and wore a brown T-shirt with a purple peace sign on it.

Uh, no, I said.

She put her lunch tray on the table, plopped her backpack on the floor, and sat down across from me. She started to eat the mac and cheese on her plate…

My name is Summer, by the way. What’s yours?”

When I read these first few lines in the “The Summer Table” chapter, I started to weep.

Not just a few tears, but a real ugly cry. I wasn’t quite sure why I had had this strong of a reaction to these particular words. I certainly wasn’t a middle school student and I didn’t know anyone with a facial deformity, like the main character, August. Why, then, was I having such a strong reaction to these characters in this book?

Still sleep-deprived, guilt-ridden and anxiety-prone, I started reading Wonder just one month after my step-father’s body had been recovered off the coast of Key West. The memories that surfaced during his disappearance, the desperate search and then the recovery were brutal. All of the feelings that I had pushed away for my brother, Brian, who also went missing, who we also searched for, and then later found, resurfaced with a vengeance.

The pain of knowing that these two beautiful and gentle souls had lost hope was indescribable.

While sitting there weeping uncontrollably, I realized why the words from Wonder struck such a chord. Brian and John were just like August. While they may not have had the complex deformities that his character had, they were suffering in other ways. Brian and John’s injuries were invisible. They, just like August, felt completely isolated in their pain.

In fact, we are ALL like August at one point or another. We ALL have something.

And, we all have the capacity to be like Summer. We all have the ability to change the course of someone’s day, someone’s life, with just one simple act of kindness. Or, as I like to call it: grace.

When I really thought about Summer’s seemingly simple act during one of August’s lowest points in the story, it triggered a whole series of questions, thoughts and even more tears. From the more book-specific questions: Would I have gone to the aid of an outcast when I was a kid? Would my children be brave or decent enough to do this as well? To the more personal reflections: Did I reach out to Brian when he needed me most? Did I do enough to let him know he wasn’t alone? Could I have saved John by reaching out to him sooner? Did I miss signs that he was losing hope? To the more philosophical question: What does the world expect from me?

Losing John seventeen years after losing Brian, changed me forever. I literally shattered into a million little pieces when I figured out his location: a terrible, heart-wrenching phone call that I placed in the middle of the night to the Monroe County Coroner’s Office provided the answer I prayed so hard not to hear.

I am different now and I look at others differently now too. It’s almost as if I am looking through a camera with a “suffering” lens. There are so many people who are suffering…so many of us who are fighting every single day to escape the pain.

The whole scenario with this fictional character, Summer, and her ability to Choose Kind, to help someone she viewed as suffering, or as isolated, just for the sake of being nice or helping another person, spurred me on my mission even more.

When I started reading the book, it had only been three weeks since I had made my own pledge in front of about 150 mourners at John’s funeral. I pledged that despite the most unimaginable and hopeless outcome, I had decided to “Choose Grace”.

What did that mean? What is choosing grace? As I explained in the eulogy that I wrote for John, it meant that I was going to choose to find the beauty deep within an incredibly terrible situation. I was going to live life the way John lived his life when he was well – with rose-colored glasses, a beautiful optimism, an urge to help others and a gigantic, hearty laugh. I decided that while I have a choice, I was going to choose grace.

Before all of this happened, I was not what people would describe as the PollyAnna type. I had experienced a bunch of losses and had become quite cynical over the years, but what I experienced during those weeks of John’s disappearance, search and the weeks following his loss, made me gravitate towards the other side. The bright side. There are so many stories of people who stepped up to help me find John. Every time I called someone new, I told them about who John was and explained to them our family had gone through this before with filing a missing persons’ report, searching for our loved one, holding onto hope despite the odds that were stacking up against us. There were just so many stories of people who were willing to do anything to help us – from the guy who said he would post flyers in Key West after he got off his 8-hour shift, to the sheriff who said he would hand deliver the note I wrote to the man who found John’s body. He did this after I explained that I never got to thank the person who found my brother’s body along North Avenue Beach. He understood that I couldn’t let this go again.

Despite the terrible outcome, deep sadness and the stress this put on our already fractured family, I had hope. I had hope that I could be like Summer’s character. Hope that my children would also “choose kind” when given the choice. Hope that I could help other people, even if it was just one person, from feeling alone…from losing hope.

When you are thrown into a chaotic situation, and you feel like you are spiraling out of control and losing your mind, you never know where you’ll find peace and inspiration. For me, it was during an incredibly difficult time from a special book with an important message: “Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”

To answer my instructor’s question, my turning point was my breaking point.

The Bright Side

Intensity.

It is usually considered a good thing.

When we describe a person as intense in their careers, education, athletics, etc., it’s looked upon as a strong personality trait.  It often describes a person who is focused and motivated. These individuals work hard to achieve their goals.

But what about emotional intensity?

I’m not so sure that everyone would describe it as a positive attribute. It can be exhausting to be with one of “those people”. :o)

I am what most people would consider to be a very INTENSE person.

As my close friends know, I LOVE making connections with others, but I have an incredibly difficult time making small talk. I prefer to dive in and go under the surface than discuss more top-of-the-surface issues.

For example, don’t you learn more about people when you discuss how they feel in the weather rather than what the actual temperature is on a certain day? Wouldn’t you want to share stories about our best friends, rather than our favorite pair of shoes or handbags or places to shop? And while I love to chat about the Real Housewives of NYC or Atlanta or Beverly Hills or Orange County, wouldn’t it be more meaningful to talk about how your dad is getting along since your mom died?

You see my problem.

I should clarify. I’m not saying that small talk doesn’t serve a purpose. It does. And I’m not saying I don’t do it either. I do. It just so happens that I really like to watch and recap the Real Housewives. It’s a great escape from reality. It keeps things light. However, I am just unable to keep up my end of the conversation, so a “light” conversation with me usually turns into something like this:

Friend: “Did you see that episode this week? Her sister is nuts!”

Me: “Well, I don’t know that she’s ‘nuts’, I think she has some really serious addiction issues and I feel really sorry for her and her kids…”

You see my problem.

Being a “Debbie Downer” is truly a downer sometimes. And that’s not to say that I can’t be a lot of fun. It’s true…I used to be HILARIOUS! I can do the best impersonations, make a complete fool out of myself for a laugh and tell hysterical stories. However, over the last five years, I’ve definitely mellowed and now most people only get to visit the “deep end” of this pool. While I used to host huge house parties, I will tell you this, nothing clears a party faster than when someone asks me what I’m up to these days…

Party Guest: “Wow, you sure go back to Chicago a lot, what are you going for this time?”

Me: “I’m organizing a team for a suicide prevention walk.’

Party Guest: “Oh”

Me: “Yea”

Again, you see my problem.

So…this happens – A LOT. And, because I’m totally awkward and not very quick-witted, it takes a long time for me to recover. Like, it might not be until I’m driving home in the car 45 minutes later or when I’m about to fall asleep later that night that I realize how I should have responded without getting too deep. It isn’t unusual for a friend to receive an email or text apology after I’ve over-thought the situation for HOURS on end.

And, it’s important to note here that it’s not like I’m walking down the streets of Fairfield or Chicago telling everyone and anyone my business. As any (tortured) Public Speaking 101 student remembers, you need to “know your audience”. I am careful who I reveal my intensity to (well, most times).

Because of my emotional intensity, and trying to “read” my audience, I now save the heavy stuff for certain people. And because my family and I have experienced a lot of tough stuff over the last several years, I’ve had to allocate the stories around to a lot of different individuals, although my husband, Dave, bears the brunt of it. And it is a heavy burden.

I refer to these folks as my “safety nets”. And I am so incredibly fortunate to have them. As someone who identifies strongly as more of an introvert (I get my energy from being alone), I do have a lot of close connections. It’s just that when you’re an emotionally intense person, I have found that it’s better to “share the wealth” with many, in order to keep those friendships. Basically, these people save me from myself. They know (at least I hope they know this) that I am ALWAYS there to listen to them and their stories as well. As long as it’s not about shoes or handbags (just kidding…sorta).

I also choose to spend a significant amount of time alone. And it’s not because I’m sad. I just really, really, REALLY enjoy being alone, which doesn’t happen all that often. And, I need to stress here, it’s not because I don’t like people. It’s actually the reverse. I love people with an INTENSITY that’s exhausting and very difficult to understand unless you’re hardwired or socialized this way too.

Over the last few years, I have found the best of both worlds in social media, more specifically, on Facebook. Yes, I know all the statistics about how bad it is for you and your relationships, but for me, it has helped. Like, really helped. I love connecting with people, I get to edit my comments (impulse control issues here), “like” to show support for my friends and see their adorable families and what they’re up to – all from the comfort of my little corner on our oversized forest green outdated sectional. Life is good.

And if you’re a Facebook fan like me, you know it isn’t rare to come across one of those “fun” little personality quizzes that show up on our newsfeeds once in a while. I usually don’t take the quizzes, but when the “Bright Side”, a great site for spreading happiness had one, I decided to take it.

Although I was not expecting this answer from the sweet little “happiness” site, I was not completely surprised. It read:

 

The results: “Your subconscious is obsessed with the fear of losing someone close. The pictures you have selected suggest that from a very early age you have been a very emotional person. You have matured fast, and realized that people sometimes get hurt. This realization has made you worry for the people close to you, and that has only grown as you’ve matured. Your subconscious is constantly running. It also tells you that you should do something in order to save the people who are closest to you. There is no real way to let this feeling go, but instead of worrying, you should try to channel those feelings into something positive.”

While I think many factors play a role in my intensity, there is a lot of truth in those words. The fear of losing someone close is with me every single day. I’m not sure if it’s the result of losing so many people, or losing so many people to suicide. It is just so complicated.

As the results indicate, the fear may never go away, but I can learn to channel it in positive ways. Forging ahead with the kindness initiatives, continuing my volunteer work with the AFSP and always looking forward for new learning opportunities are just a few ways that I am trying to do this.

To my friends and family…I hope you now have a better understanding that there’s a real reason for my intensity. I love you more than you can ever imagine and I am terrified of losing you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to be there for me.

Intensity, as it turns out, may be my bright side.