“Until death do we part” is etched in my mind as a popular wedding vow. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how death or tragedy brings people together. The sharing of loss, grief and compassion has family members dropping the things that would normally keep them too busy to connect so that they can show up to support one another. The deeper question I have is why do we wait? Why does it take a tragedy to put the first things first in our lives, which—for most people—are relationships?
Even a minor shift in a relationship piques my interest in this subject. I recently heard news of a talented businessman leaving our community and felt an urgent need to connect with him. I wanted to ensure that our relationship doesn’t end. He’s valuable to me. I feel I have as much to offer him as he has to offer me. “Why did I wait?” I asked myself.
If you took your last breath upon retiring to bed tonight, would it all be said? Would those you love and care about know how you feel? Would the strained relationships in your life become resolved? More importantly, would you feel complete with those who really matter to you?
My partner Matt received a phone call about a month ago with sad news of his step-father’s passing. Matt’s mom had left his stepfather at home while she ran a daily errand, only to come home 45 minutes later to find him laying on the floor. He had passed away very suddenly and with no warning. Matt spent a few hours with his mom and the body of his stepdad before the coroner took him away. It was in those moments that Matt was able to say a few things that he’d been wanting to say for many years.
When we see someone, we never know if it will be for the last time; yet if we think about how we’d leave things with that person—just in case it is the last time—we’d respond and communicate from a deeper place of love and acceptance instead of judgment and criticism. It’s not just the person we’re losing that we connect with in a time of tragedy. We rekindle, resolve and reconnect with other members of our family or community with whom we’ve grown apart from because we realize that the human needs of support and compassion that we can give far outweigh our own selfish battles of ego, being right, being accepted, or being treated a certain way. Why don’t we just default to love, support and compassion?
Things that matter most shouldn’t be at the mercy of things that matter least. In the end, relationships matter most, so why wait? We’re not too busy when there is a tragedy to drop everything and go to support the people that matter, so why don’t we make time to nurture the needs of relationships that matter even in the absence of tragedy?
Perhaps a more personal topic than I usually write, this one is too close to home having just attended the funeral of my partner’s 31 year old nephew, and knowing the story of alcoholism that took over his better judgment. I’m struggling with why not to write this, why not help other families, why not change even just one person who reads this.
Army was his name. Drinking and drugging became his answer to something. It got a hold of him, the cunning, baffling and powerful obsession slowly made the decisions for him that would result in his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends saying good bye to a young man who’s organs became the victim to an incurable disease – alcoholism.
Now just for a moment, imagine that was your family member. Your son, grandson, nephew, brother, cousin or friend. Just see the people that you love that you know are users of substance, maybe even yourself, and let that thought really sink into your mind, so you can feel the feeling of loss.
This isn’t a judgment of how other’s spend their time, money, or find answers to their deepest questions or challenges. This is a message that there is another way. There is a road to recovery. There is an honesty that is required, for people to dig deep into, to find out why they do what they do, what the risks are, and how alcoholism affects families.
In my past two years of workplace relationships, resolution and reconciliation services, I’ve heard hundreds of personal stories by people affected by alcohol in their families, stories hidden deep down because alcohol wasn’t a topic to mention. Painful stories of people unaware of how their drinking or another generations drinking affected them, revealing experiences created by the undercurrent that alcoholic families have running, but no-one’s talking about. This has to stop. We need to vent. We need to speak up and encourage those hurting to speak out about how we’re all affected.
I’ve experienced this personally in my relationships too. I’ve been one to party regularly, and luckily managed to escape the powerful grip that substance has on others. As I look back, I’m concerned for our youth. What example do we set for them when they’re little and learning about life? Children learn with they live. What do they continue to see and experience with other adult influences in their lives outside our control? And are we talking with them about it? Are we living the example that we hope our youth model in their later years?
I’ve always said that whatever the question, love is the answer. So many people numb the feeling of not being loved. Not being enough, not being seen, not being acknowledged. Being abandoned. Being abused. Being lied to, cheated on. The list is long … We need to express our love with words. We need to express our challenges with those we’ve grown up with using conversation to talk about things, and not hide in the fear of having difficult discussions for our own healing. We’ve got to be vulnerable enough to share honest thoughts, feelings and experiences. This is the answer that our soul seeks most. Alcohol and drugs are a cover up for the real answer. It just so happens that the numbing affect of alcohol and drugs wear off, and in the constant need for more, our bodies and relationships are strained and broken.
This article is dedicated to the life of Armond Jr. Thorpe to carry on his legacy by empowering people to create one conversation at a time, to help heal those who think they’ve found the answer. If you need help creating conversations, I’m willing to help. Contact me personally.
Last week I was eating Chinese food in a little restaurant on Spadina Avenue in Toronto with my good friend and fellow author, Barry Spilchuk. I was speaking to him about being snagged (previous article explains how to best deal with snags) in my personal development because I realized that I was hooked onto something massive. I had received some uncomfortable feedback which had created a huge disturbance within me. Because of it I was contracted, uptight and upset, and just really wanted to get through it.
Being the great friend he is, he listened, understood, and could relate my situation to similar times in his life. We all need friends like this—people we can lean on when we’re not seeing clearly. Barry suggested a book to me by writing on a napkin: “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. I bought it the very next day, an am in the process of reading it.
The inspiration for my article this month came from the realization of my snag this summer, my encounter with Barry, and the first few chapters of this book; implementing the amazing work of my journey towards inner freedom by staying open to everything.
I’ve realized that a snag is stored energy, no matter what kind of snag it is, and that it’s very hard work to continue to fight against it, work around it, or keep it locked down inside.
I know for sure that being open has made this the absolute best summer of my life.
I encourage you to take some time to read and contemplate my latest article, Are you open for business?, and remove what’s closing off your ability to receive the abundance that life has to offer.
Invest in this rich information, and be fully open for business.