A Community Monitors the Group Mental Health
Even in the best of times, your mental health and well-being are best supported within a community; people who consider it part of their normal routine to include each other, check on those who are ill or too quiet, and offer help where needed. A strong community is comprised of people who give of themselves without expecting accolades or compensation because they know in their own time of need, there will be someone there to help lift them up or support them until they’re once again able to stand on their own.
In times of quarantine, tragedy, or both, communities are truly tested, and I’m happy to say, after decades of solitude, I am now a member of a community which embodies all the best qualities the word brings to mind, though often finds lacking. Whether it’s moral support, help staying active, something tangible like toilet paper, sundries, or cable, someone is ready to step up and lend a hand. In truth, I’ve never experienced such a giving, caring, supportive mindset before. Not even in my own blood family (except my daughter Heather of course, who has always been generous to a fault).
Within this community are people each of us can share the best and the worst with, and who can be counted on for honesty, not platitudes. There are examples of generosity and compassion that make me want to be a better person; to willingly toss aside the ingrained selfishness that kept me isolated for so many years. Although it sometimes feels foreign to share a closeness like this, it also feels like I’ve finally come home to the place; the people to whom I belong.
When You Find Your Tribe, You’ll Know It
Over the years, I’ve listened to others speak what I carried in my heart; the alone-ness, the feeling of never fitting in, always being on the outside looking in. Like many, I drifted from place to place, social group to social group looking for somewhere I felt comfortable enough to let down my guard. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my deepest desire was to find a place where I could take off the masks my birth family taught me were prescribed attire, no less essential than shirt or shoes. Somewhere deep inside, I knew much of what I’d been taught were lies designed to protect what no longer needed protecting to the degree they believed necessary.
You hear a lot about finding your humanity so you can strive further for a Divinity that’s only truly reached on Earth by a select few. Until I figured out what that actually meant, I was one of the oblivious masses who doesn’t even realize they’re drifting through life without connection; without a true understanding of the components which make a meaningful human life.
Too many grow up believing it’s them against the world, trusting no one, and nearly killing themselves living a life of false perfection. I’m wondering now, what happens to the disconnected masses during a time of crisis?
A Community in Crisis Growing Stronger Every Day
Since November 7, 2018, my community has faced crisis after crisis, and though some faced unimaginable losses, the support of the community remained strong. One crisis might leave some members lost and drifting, but often, those were the ones who rose up and shouldered more of the burden when the next crisis hit. Most of all, no one is keeping score. If someone is in need and you have what they need, you offer it without question. In most cases, the offers exceed the need.
Right now, our gathering places are closed. The hugs that are so much a part of our community’s culture are forbidden, and even dangerous. Still, we find ways to help each other from a distance, whether it’s dancing together remotely, talking about life and challenges, checking in on the ones who aren’t as comfortable reaching out, or busy trying to keep it together on their own.
Every day, I see more of what community truly means in the words, actions, and spirit of the people who’ve accepted me as I am. I value it all the more for the years I spent believing I didn’t deserve anything I hadn’t worked hard for, and achieved completely on my own. Little did I know we all go farther when we ask for help, and allow others to give it. The concept runs contrary to everything my family taught me was true.
Choosing Community Over Solitude
In choosing Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock” over John Donne’s “No man is an island”, I inadvertently denied myself the joy I know now can only be found by connecting with others, both by virtue of common interests, and an even stronger bond; the one I never suspected; shared trauma. As my community grows ever stronger with each storm we weather together, I’m happy to admit the humanness and imperfections are the stronger glue that binds us all together.
I know there are those in my community who struggle more than others right now. They’re impacted more severely by solitude and lack of human contact. Many are like me and live alone, or have to maintain space because of the work they do. In our own way, we all safeguard our loved ones by social distancing, but for some, the need is more critical than others. In some ways, I think the emotional toll it takes makes doing an already difficult job that much harder,
Though I spend a lot of time reminding myself to avoid comparisons, this is one area where I’ll berate myself if I’m falling into self-pity. I know I’m safe in my own home, interacting directly with no one, but also putting no one else in danger. I don’t have to go to extremes to protect my loved ones from the place I work. I can’t imagine the toll it’s taking on their mental health to have to come home from a long, stressful day, and go through a ritual of sanitizing before they can even be in the same room with their family; assuming they haven’t already had to send them away, or move out themselves.
Overall, the latest in a long chain of crises affecting my community gives me an even greater appreciation both of the group as a whole, and of the people I’ve grown closer to through similar traumas we’ve learned to navigate past. In all fairness, it’s not only the traumas. With some, it’s cultural similarities or upbringings which give us stronger connections too. Regardless of what connects us (and I’m learning not to analyze it too much), the connections formed through sharing imperfections will always prove stronger and more resilient than faking perfection to fit in ever did.
Gratitude Strengthens Mental Health
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for a community of people who share their human-ness.
- I’m grateful for the people who check on me, and those who allow me to check in on them.
- I’m grateful for the amusement my dance nights are giving to my resident felines.
- I’m grateful for the lessons I learn every day. They move me closer to being Human than I ever thought I’d be.
- I’m grateful for abundance; connection, love, compassion, joy, sharing, caring, motivation, inspiration, peace, balance, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward