Others. Community. Support. Help. Cheerleaders. These are the words that have been flooding my thoughts over the last couple of weeks.
If you consider my writings, the podcast that I co-host, or the documentary film in which I’m featured, it might be easy to think that I’ve got my life figured out. People might believe that I have an unshakable level of determination and resilience and that my life is easy. As much pride as I take in my commitment to moving forward no matter what, I don’t have everything figured out, nor is my life like cupcakes and champagne all of the time.
I can guarantee that my future writings will present vulnerabilities and truths about the difficult parts of my life. However, that isn’t why “others” and “cheerleaders” are my current buzzwords. More on my challenges later.
What is catching my attention and mental energy lately is how vital my fellow humans are to my life’s journey. We need other people. Dogs are probably essential, too — but I’ll stay focused here.
Think back to the Bible story of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:18): “God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Eve was a companion to Adam — and vice versa. Although the New International Version labels Eve a helper, remember that this was written long before dirty dishes, vacuuming, and changing diapers. I’m not a theologian; however, one online dictionary defines “helper” as “a person or thing that helps or gives assistance, support, etc.”
The exact opposite is used to punish someone. No one needs help to cook dinner or move furniture while in solitary confinement, and we’re all aware that being deprived of companionship has a negative impact on one’s psyche and emotions.
The support of other people is crucial to living a meaningful life. I rarely think of it in the context of finances, an inside connection to a new job, or help with getting my foot in the door for some networking opportunity. Sure, those things are helpful and sometimes life-altering. But even those perks don’t beat a high-five, a pat on the back from a friend, or a shoulder to cry on.
I rely on my loved ones to keep pushing me toward the things that are important to me. I need my friends to encourage me to exert myself at the gym or start a trek up a 14,000-foot mountain. Years ago, after a long day of pedaling 50 miles on my bicycle, with my destination still 12 days and 600 miles away, my friends reminded me why I was choosing to endure excruciating discomfort in the saddle.
Some days are easier than others, but as my disease progresses and I sense changes in my abilities, I know that I need support now more than ever. I wish to hear my “cheerleaders” root me on. I don’t have to win the game or reach the summit; I just want people to tell me they believe in me.
If I didn’t have a strong and consistent circle of loved ones cheering me on, I know it’d be easy to lean on excuses to avoid the hard things. And more often than not, it’s the hard things that teach the most valuable lessons.
I’m incredibly grateful for my experience of the power that the support of others can have. I realize that if I wasn’t intentional about sharing my life with others, it would be different than it is.
If you’re anything like me and want to avoid excuses, allow yourself to be vulnerable with those around you and let your honest self welcome the support they were created to give. After all, if life began in the Garden of Eden, there’s a good reason why mankind wasn’t left in solitude.
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