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The Alone Monster

In recent days, I’ve been able to re-establish contact with some long-ago friends – people with whom I was very close, but, as life circumstances changed, the relationships drifted into near-hibernation.

To pick up the phone, and to pick up right where we’d left off – the same affection, the foundation of mutual knowledge – is an immense joy. I love the new friendships I’ve made through social networks. But how I treasure those ties that have survived through decades. I’ve changed, they’ve changed, but the roots of trust built through prior vulnerability and many steps walked along the path together remain.

In a comforting way, they re-affirm that I’m not alone.

The reality is, many of us have deep secrets, dark troubles, monsters with which we wrestle – alone. For years, I tried to fight my way through depression, and failed – until I stepped out of the aloneness to acknowledge my problem and get help (what I had needed all those years was a pill to fix the biochemistry, and a willingness to be vulnerable).

A number of my friends and contacts are struggling, sometimes in deep loneliness – broken marriages, mental illness, messed-up kids. Who wants to go public with that? A recent suicide letter by a young man hiding a profoundly awful childhood trauma has become public – he tried to fight the darkness, that monster that grows larger the more alone you are – and finally gave up. He could not bring himself to divulge what was eating him away from the inside out. Heartbreaking.

We hear in the news about young men in the military who cannot take the trauma, and give the Alone Monster permission to point the gun inward and pull the trigger. There are great outreach programs for service people and vets but some try to go it alone. And lose the battle.

You can’t go back and unwind things done to you (or even by you, for that matter) in your childhood. You can’t wave a magic wand and fix a crumbling family. But you can do one thing – get help. You can slay some beasts alone, but others require warriors at your side, both personal and (perhaps) professional. The shame diminishes when you finally get honest, and the monster shrinks in size when others are there to come alongside.

Please – don’t go it alone. You can’t fix it all right away, but that doesn’t mean you’re destined to be swallowed up by the beast. Just do one thing first – get some help!

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