I have something important to share. This is my plea to somehow in some miraculous way make a difference. Whether you know me or not, please read on.
A co-worker sent me a text. She asked if I had time to talk. I am not a person who insists on a scheduled time for a phone call, but we scheduled a time.
My co-worker could have been anyone’s co-worker. She could have been anyone’s sister or brother, mother or father, daughter or son, cousin, friend-you get the idea. . We seemed to connect at work, but we never got together outside of work. I knew she had attempted to take her life in the past. I had reached out to her on several occasions, but she never seemed to reciprocate my offer for friendship. She has a mental illness called bipolar
I could hear in her voice she was down. She shared that she was on suicide watch again. She shared a lot. She shared that she was molested as a child, her father held a gun to her head as a teenager, and she was raped. She was a survivor despite everything she had been through until a few years ago when she lost her mom and found out that her husband had been having a 10-year affair in the same week. Then it was like something clicked and she just wanted to give up, but she is still here.
She just keeps going-sometimes without any obvious glimmer of hope. From the outside she seems fine. She runs 7 miles a day. She has an MBA. She is a homeowner. She volunteers at the homeless shelter because she gets incredible satisfaction out of helping others. She is employed full time, but there is something within her that wants more, so she has been looking for a more rewarding career. She desperately wants to move and start a new life.
This week somebody told her she would always be alone and that she was not a loveable person. I didn’t ask if the person was aware of her circumstances. It doesn’t matter. There was no reason to say those cruel things to this person. It was not constructive. It was unkind. It was not true. Those short statements not only put this woman on a spiral but it was statements like that that had her feeling like when people like me reach out that she was being a bother if she engaged in conversation.
I cannot say I have never said anything that I regret. We have all said stupid things. Over the years, I have learned the power of my words. In a matter of only a few moments, with our words, we have the power to give-or in this case-take away what is left of someone’s hope. I know the timing of this message is weird, but it just so happens that the timing of my co-workers interaction was weird. It seems she was in the midst of still trying to adjust to holidays without her mother, her grandparents, and the husband she thought would love her forever when her colleague told her she was unloveable and would be alone forever.
We see all kinds of awareness platforms for school bullying, but as adults we sometimes do not display a particularly good example. Before you speak, can you please try to be mindful of the words you say? Please pause for just one moment in your private interactions-those times you interact with co-workers, strangers in a store, people on the phone, or others you disagree with on social media. Ask yourself if it is kind, if it is necessary, and if it is constructive. If you cannot figure it out, ask yourself how you would feel hearing the same words directed at you or someone you love. Adults, can we please try to be kind to one another? You never know what somebody else is or has been going through. Together, we can make this world a kinder, more loving place.