Earlier this month I was sitting with two friends at the Redwood kitchen table, and one of them was crying. She’d had a hard time recently and, afraid to reach out, she had gone through it alone. Without help and emotional support, her situation had spiralled, and ended up being more frustrating than necessary. In hindsight, she’d admitted that it would have been better to reach out for help. Why is it that we isolate when we’re in trouble? Why do we close ourselves off and ignore the open hands around us?
Now I’m not the best example to look at for this. I’m the first person to close off, stop posting on social media, and lose touch with friends when I’m going through something hard. Yet I recognize that doing that only compounds the problem. In that moment, holding my crying friend’s hand, I got a sudden inspiration. At Redwood we talk a lot about community, and I think of that community like a network or a web—dozens of threads linked together so that a complex structure is supported by many connections and the strain doesn’t sit on just one point. It works best when each person is connected strongly to several others.
We’ve noticed times at Redwood that go well because those connections are in place. When bad situations happen, it’s most often because there was a disconnect. It makes me think of that spider’s web when something has ripped through it. There are dangling threads, and the web—or part of it—threatens to fall. When a person goes through the kind of trauma that our friends have experienced, it’s more important than ever to have a strong web of supportive connections. But usually the trauma either caused or was caused by a profound lack of connection. Redwood offers multiple ways to rebuild those connections, but it’s up to the individual to reach out and take them. No one can force someone to be connected. We can only offer. And we can in turn set the example by reaching out when we’re in need. So what about you? Where are the weak spots in your web?