Last night I received some horrible news. A dear friend of mine was found dead over the weekend having succumbed to a combination of alcohol and pills. She was only 31 years old and had so much to offer the world. This is not the first time I have known something like this to happen, just the most recent.
It is my experience that most people have to battle it out with one or more demons in their life. My definition of this sort of demon is anything you do battle with and hide from the sight of your friends. Alcoholism and addiction are two very common demons many people fight. But the root cause of the alcoholism or addiction is always something else. Alcoholism is merely a front for something else. Too frequently that something else is something we choose to fight alone because of shame and guilt. We fear that were we to ask for help by telling another person what we are up against, that other person would think less of us or reject us entirely. We have this great friendship but to ask that friend to join in our battle against something in particular is too embarrassing, too painful to acknowledge.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that it can be fatal. I think that was the case with Caroline. She failed to understand, or believe, that we could love her regardless of what she was hiding from us and that we would have gladly engaged in her battle with her. We understand that to be a friend we have to be there for the other person without judgement but because it is the right thing to do.
I used that have a couple such demons but when I finally allowed another person to see them, his response was along the line of: is that all? He counseled me on forgiving myself and how to make amends for my actions. What seemed like a demon of titanic proportions was resized to nothing more than an annoying mosquito that I was able to swat away and reign over. Its only power was that which I gave over it, and in fact, it had no real power of its own. It had controlled my life for far too long but once I brought it to the light of day, it lost its control over me.
It is difficult for us to understand how the world and the people in it see us. In Caroline’s case, I saw a person who was beautiful not just on the outside, but deep inside her as well. She had a kindness and gentleness that was extremely attractive. She showed that by her love of animals and their care. What I do not think she understood was just how attractive this trait was and how it made people want to be around her.
Caroline did not lack for intelligence, she was a Yale graduate. She did not lack for friends, she had hundreds, literally. And she did not lack for money. The only thing that leaves her lacking in was her appreciation of how much she meant to people and what a bright future she had.
I have never met the person who was totally unloved or unlovable. Everyone has people in their lives who, if given a chance, will step up and help us through the roughest of times. They may tell us how much they dislike what we have done or where we have gotten ourselves to, but they are still there. That speaks volumes for them and it should give us whatever hope we need to get through the year, the month, the day. It is incumbant on us to reveal to someone what we are up against and that we are in desperate straits.
There is a solution to any problem we have. We may not like the solution but that does not change the fact of what it is, the solution. We just have to accept where we are at and accept the help that we need.