Category Archives: Friends & Family: Family & Friends

Friends can be family and family can be friends. Both are wonderful.

Death to the Victim.

Abusers are fascinating.  They are so believable.  So amazingly believable.  They also capitalize on your weak points.  Abusers often fight to the death.  Either the death of their intent, or the death of their victim – literally or figuratively.

For me, what has worked to perpetuate the symptoms of being the victim is the fear of being “crazy,” of “going crazy.”  The statement “You lie” epitomizes on that fear.

If something goes wrong that the abuser has done, it always has to be caused by someone else.  Then the victim responds subconsciously and the abuser capitalizes on their reactions.

Businesses work this way all the time.  People continually feel the need to cover up and blame when something goes wrong.  Finger-pointing is classic.  Abusers take up those opportunities to the extreme and “run with it.”  They go and go until they can’t anymore.  And, in their wake, victims get “eaten alive.”

Abusers in power are rampant.  Those not in power abuse those who are in the attempt to get on the top.  It’s a vicious cycle.  But, when it comes down to it, when mistakes need to be covered up, the bullies and abusers always win – at least initially.  And victims become victimized and re-victimized.

I was leaving the church.  I did not agree with my dad’s choices, with what was happening in my sister’s life.  Lies ran rampant. The fingers pointed to me.  At the time, 99% of those around believed the abusers.  Many still do.  You see, something had to be wrong with me for leaving the church.  Something had to be wrong with me for not agreeing with what my dad wanted to believe.  Something had to be wrong with me for not thinking the way my dad thought I should believe.

And so I was slapped with a “diagnosis” of schizophrenia – the worst diagnosis you could possibly label someone from that church.  Everyone believed I wanted to marry my sister’s husband.  But, everyone believed those lies.  Some still do.  Amazing.

I do not have schizophrenia.  Way too many psychiatrists and mental health professionals have ruled that out over the years.  I do not lie.  I can count a handful of times that I have deliberately lied.  My inability and refusal to lie is subhuman.  I am not “crazy” nor have I “gone crazy.”  I had no desire to marry an abuser, a skirt-chaser, someone who was a complete total fraud.  I tried to keep my sister safe from that, but my attempts failed.  Instead, finger-pointing happened toward me while yet another un-pretty, “happy Christian life” happened to my sister.

What I truly am – at this moment – is a trauma victim.  Someone who has been abused severely in every way possible.  What I aim to do is triumph over the ridiculousness of the aftermath from the foundations laid by abusers.

The abused get blamed, stomped on, looked at like they are crazy.  They are targeted by additional abusers.  The fear runs rampant and never goes away.  Thus, victims stay victims until somehow things change.  Until absolute miracles happen.

Abusers are all over the place.  In this day and age, they are rampant and most often have the greatest voice, the greatest power.  Victims of abuse are extremely vulnerable.  Thus, the cycle continues.  Viciously.  Ferociously.  Abusers don’t stop until the victim is dead, rescued, or disappear from their life – or until they are no longer interested.

My dad has been incredibly abusive over the years.  I didn’t know that until after my mom died.  Since then I have continually wondered the how, what, when, where, why’s…  I came to the awareness that something was severely wrong with him the night before he married his current wife.  I was explained and had the epiphany that he was abusive after calling a 1-800 national hotline for abusers while I was being severely abused by my ex-.  I have had symptoms of abuse for many, many years.  Thus, I knew I have been abused.  But I still didn’t know…

I knew, but I didn’t.  You see, I can’t remember.  I just cannot remember.  But, I know I have the symptoms.  I know my life has been devastated time and time again, significantly impacted by the initial and subsequent abuses from my dad, the church I was raised, my ex-, employers, and employees.

The abuse and the impact of abuse has climaxed – and keeps climaxing.  I think it’s done, and it’s not.  Classic.

One thing for sure, absolute sure, is that I’m resilient.  I get up.  I keep fighting for my life.  I keep breathing.  I keep trying.  Thankfully miracles keep happening so that this fight for life, for resilience, keeps working and keeps happening.

Even this fact – the fact that I’m incredibly resilient – has taken 15 years to sink in.  (A date provided yesterday by the very first person who shared that fact with me.)

My body almost gave out on me after my boss from a job that ended March 3, 2014.  It was in mid- to late- February of this year.  I was on sick leave from surgery.  I was also suffering severe PTSD symptoms from all the workplace violence that was happening, riddled throughout that particular workplace.  The violence was coming from the local office as well as through headquarters.

The director called me over the phone while I was on sick leave and was intentionally verbally abusive.  He knew exactly what to say and do based on my confiding in him by “going through the channels” of reporting violence in the workplace that was happening toward myself and my coworkers.

The pseudo-boss was significantly abusive, but I did not believe she was intentionally so.  She was fighting her own demons of the past and present.  However, the director, the actual boss, was blatantly, intentionally abusive.  I had got to a point where I could recover after identifying what was happening locally, but when it was intentional, over the phone, and while I was on sick leave, my body just couldn’t handle it.  I could feel my body give out on me.  The morning after the phone call I could feel my lungs start to collapse and my organs shut down.  When my body revived itself and I woke up, I was ready to end it myself.  I just couldn’t handle any more abuse.  I had tried and tried for years and years and I failed.  I had not succeeded.

I got to the point where I fully believed their highly believable end message: “You are a failure.”  “You are not good enough.”  It is a message that started from the church I was raised and by my dad.  A message that I believed.  A message I 100% knew that was incorrect, yet I could not help not believing.  A message that additional abusers, this time in the workplace, “picked up and ran with.”  Classic victim mentality.  Classic abuser victory.

The abuse from that workplace – from the director and the pseudo-boss counterpart – has not stopped.  Since working for them, their abuse follows me like a black cloud preventing me from future employment and stopping employment after it starts.  But, it didn’t start with them.  It won’t end with them.  They are just a pawn in the world of the victim that is used as a tool to keep the victim silent, to break them.

Their tactics have thoroughly worked because I am a victim who hasn’t yet learned how to fight appropriately.  I haven’t yet been able to find my voice in a way that brings me on top.  I just plain don’t have the tools, the know-how to counteract the fight.  Life is a dance.  I haven’t learned the dance.  Life is a fight.  I haven’t learned how to fight.

If you stick someone on a dance floor that has no dance lessons nor have been exposed to dance, they need a teacher.  If you stick someone in a boxing ring, they will get pounced on mercilessly unless they have the skills – and even when they do.  There are people who want to dance with you and who want to fight with you.  Life is best lived when you know when and how to dance and fight.

I’m not talking about “fight to the death” in a literal fashion.  I am not encouraging to put on boxing gloves.  Blood, bruises, broken bones, brain damage are not long-term answers.  I’m not encouraging a fight of good verses evil like you see as you play x-box or in the Tolkien movies.  Rather, fighting through a skill that I understand is taught via martial arts.

I don’t want revenge.  I don’t care about revenge.  What I want are the tools to learn how to make this cycle of significant abuse to stop.  I’m done with abuse.  I’m done with being the victim.  I’m done with being a survivor.  I want to be a human being that has the tools to sluff off their ridiculousness.

Abusers think they won’t be found out, that they will look good, that they will “win” whatever they are trying to battle out.  They firmly believe that the victim will always look the victim, play the role of the victim, and will always be sabotaged.  Thus, their lie of “You lie,” “You…”  “It’s all your fault..” “It’s all you.”  “It’s all in your head.”  Works.

Abusers are extremely good liars, manipulators, frauds, salespeople.  They are well adept at looking good, appearing legit.  They are extremely believable.

As the victim, it’s important to keep going.  It’s important to learn the tools needed to stop the power of abuse.  They won’t stop.  They never will.  Abuse will never stop.

I am determined to believe that I can learn how to make whatever abuse I encounter – through whatever way, shape, or form – have no power.

This has already taken from July 1998 (when the light began to dawn) to now (December 2014) to try to figure out.  I’ve been trying to overcome, to prove myself, to persevere all the ridiculousness.  I’m tired.  I’m so very, very tired.

I’ve fought and fought over the years to “be normal.”  I’ve tried and tried to figure out what I’m doing wrong, why I’m wrong, why I look like I’m wrong or in the wrong.  I try to figure out why.

Most recently I went on a quest to find a solution to solve an immediate problem.  I had 100% adopted lies and beliefs that have been implanted by my dad, the church I was raised, and that was reinforced by my prior employer.  I thoroughly, 100% believed that I was to blame, that I was the problem.  I thoroughly believed it is all my fault.  I believed I wasn’t good enough, that I’d never be good enough.  That I have no future.  Everyone I who knows me well, knows these are ridiculous lies.  Completely. Ridiculous. Lies.

I became the classic victim.  They almost won the fight.  But, they haven’t and won’t.

It’s not about them.  It really isn’t.  They are hurting souls who have been hurt.  They are mean for a reason.  It’s not up for me to determine why.  It’s not for me to determine how to stop them.  It’s not worth it.  I’ve been trying to solve the how, what, when, where, why problem for years and years.  I thought if I could solve the right question, then I can change what I’m doing wrong.

I don’t know why I respond to their ridiculousness, to the abuse.  All I know is that I’m ready to not respond.

I don’t know why so many bad things have happened to me over the years.  All I know is that I’m ready for them to stop happening to me.

One thing I do know is that I want my experiences to enable me to help others.

So far, I’ve been successful in that arena.  Extremely successful.

I aim to continue.  I aim to continue in a way that becomes successful in a way unimaginable.  Only God, The Universe, and all God’s helpers can make that happen.  All I can do is try, to put the effort out, and see what happens.

In the meantime, it’s time to heal, to rest, to regroup, to recover.

Please give yourself a hug.  Please reach out to a victim in kindness.  Please do something kind to yourself and to someone nearby.  Someone you know and someone you don’t.  Please be kind – to yourself and others.

If you’re a victim, find a way to be triumphant.  Keep going.  You’re not crazy.  You are NOT crazy.

Live and let live.  For the soul of the victim, let the abuser go.  Let the abused live.

The abuser will kill itself.  The abused will die unless you let it live.

“Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love…”

The song that is playing on the radio right now is: “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love…Daddy’s don’t love their children just now and then, it’s a love without end, Amen.”

When I was young, I believed that I was loved by my dad. Then my mom died and I realized that I was wrong. Completely wrong. Then I had snippets of hope from time to time.

My dad cares to the best of his ability.  However, he really has no idea as to what it means to love, to care, to be there for anyone but himself. It’s a white man’s, Christian, Evangelical/conservative religious syndrome all mixed in with a heavy dose of narcissism.

I am in recovery mode from a heavy onslaught of PTSD symptoms.

The event(s) associated with the induction of trauma sucks, but the aftermath of trauma is much more devastating.  The cyclical nature of trauma, re-surfaced trauma, and cyclical symptoms is frustratingly angering.  The lack of knowledge with regards to trauma, the people affected by trauma, and situations associated with the aftermath of trauma is fascinating, horrifying, and explains a ton as to what we are doing wrong as a society.

The reactions of people surrounding the person affected by trauma is fascinating.

People who have no friends are in deep trouble.  Deep trouble.  People who don’t have the right solutions or people who can lead you to the right solutions are in deep trouble.  People who don’t have someone who understands who they are, what they are capable of, what is happening, and more are in deep shit.  Trauma victims who don’t have someone there to listen – truly listen – and respond in the way they truly need — not how the “listener” thinks they need — are in deep shit.

We as Americans often have no idea as to the life of another.  We just plain don’t have time.  We don’t listen, we don’t care.  We judge.  We are afraid.  We see each other as “the other.”  The first thought is to think that unfortunate situations are the fault of the person experiencing ridiculousness.

Trauma victims are fully aware of this and take it to the extreme.  Thus, we don’t know who to turn to, who we can safely seek help from.  We don’t know what to do or how to do it until it’s too late.  In the meantime, we’re frantically trying to solve the problem blindly.  We reach out frantically.  Sometimes with success, but often in failure.

The frustrating thing is that Christians are the first people turn to for support in yet they are the last to be supportive.  Organizations don’t have the resources to help or there are roadblocks where they are unable to help.  Friends are the ones who are supportive.  Your true friends.

What do you do if you have no one to turn to?  Or, if you are afraid of the ones you can turn to?  Or, if you feel that they, too, won’t understand?  What happens if you don’t have enough people to turn to?

We live in a global society.  We live within clicks.  We surround ourselves with only a few sub-types of people.  We are unaware of multiple facets of society because we just don’t know.

We don’t know because it’s overwhelming, it’s confusing, it’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, we don’t have time, we don’t want to, and more.

Please do me a favor.  Please reach out each and every day to someone you know AND someone you don’t know and show them you care in a way that they know – without a doubt – you care.  Not in a way that you think you showed them you care.  But in a way that they know you care.  Not in a way that makes you feel good, but in a way that makes them feel good.

Live Jesus.  Live a Father’s love.

Please love and be loved.

Community of DuPont – Thank You

It’s been absolutely wonderful to be surrounded by such love and kindness all throughout the DuPont community.

My apartment in the Trax Apartments has been heavenly along with Melanie and Mary in management. Each one of the maintenance guys have been fabulous as well. Mary sold the apartment to me and I will always be grateful. When I was completely stressed out, I complained about the hallways needing to be vacuumed. When I returned, they looked fabulous. They didn’t even mind.

I cannot say more about all the love and kindness oozing from Farrelli’s. Alex, Wade, and Spencer have been kind from day one – not minding at all that – for months – I would get them confused. Everyone I came to know and love would stop when they had a chance to give me a much-needed hug.

ACU is just wonderful. From the very first day I stepped foot through their doors, Rex gave a very kind, warm welcome that sold me to that particular bank. Alexis and Trevor, too, have been warm, kind, and welcoming from the very first day I met them to the very end of my living in this community.

Those at the General Store are no exception for warm hugs, a greeting that carried across the street and down a ways, and always – without fail – a warm and kind welcome.

I can’t say enough about the DuPont Pharmacy. An MD friend of mine is a long-time customer who goes out of his way to stay a customer. I have plans to do the same.

If ever you want super soft dry-cleaning that is Eco friendly, a wonderful library, and a fabulous post office, where the employees are wonderful in each location, I highly encourage you to find a reason to frequent those places.

Forza’s coffee shop has also been a haven that I’ve enjoyed frequenting here and there. When I’m not there, I’m enjoying their coffee at home.

DuPont Nails has been wonderful as well as my hairstylist friend at Christian Dior.

I’ve only been a couple of times, but there is a place that serves absolutely delicious mini chicken legs, small pizzas, and more. Their food is absolutely delicious.

McNamera’s food is perfect if you are starving and want to feel full. Bangers and Mash is a favorite of mine.

iSushi has better sushi than the 100yen or Pink Sushi of Misawa, Japan – which is hard for me to fathom.

The Thai and Mexican restaurants also serve wonderful food and the staff are fabulous as well.

I am going to miss DuPont. I’m going to miss the community, the people, the services, and – most of all – the hugs, kindness, prayers, and compassion of all those I mentioned and more. They have all been putting up with me through a hellishly dark time.

Thank you, DuPont. Thank you to each of you who have been so very, very kind and wonderful.

I Will Never Forget Your Inconvenienced Kindness

I promised I will never forget his kindness. I will always keep that promise.

A highly interesting thing happened yesterday. I decided to donate a fake Christmas tree. I loved that tree, but it was time to downsize.

As I opened my apartment door and was attempting to carry the package (almost as tall as myself), and was barely able to lift it up off the ground, the maintenance guy of the apartment met me and walked along side me from my apartment door to the elevator.

He said, “Why didn’t you get the cart?” I replied, “Because I’m an idiot.” (I was in a hurry so I thought it would waste more time to get the cart rather than carrying it myself but I didn’t tell him that.) He never offered to assist and hurried into the staircase with a spray can in his hand. I felt macho, but my female side was a bit bummed.

It took me back to the day when I purchased the tree. I was wheeling it in the grocery cart to my car and had just made it across the sidewalk just outside the BX (the store where I bought the tree).

The vice wing commander of the Misawa Air Force Base had put one leg into his pickup, got out of his pickup and asked me if I needed help. Now, I had just wondered inside my brain how in the world I would get the tree into my vehicle.  I assumed it was quite heavy but I didn’t know exactly how heavy it might be.  If I lifted it, I might have been barely able to breathe and in severe pain that night due to problems with my sternum.  (The problem flares when I lift a certain amount of weight.)  I needed to work the next day so I was deeply concerned – but hadn’t said a thing.

The vice wing commander (second in charge of the entire military base) dropped off his packages into his vehicle, hurried to meet me, and came to assist me – even though it might mess up his back and totally inconvenienced him. Not only was he inconvenienced, he could have been in pain AND he hurried so he could help me as soon as possible.  

Here I was a contractor (not active duty), terrified of the idea of being on a military base as I had no prior exposure to military before, and was severely intimidated by everyone I ran into wherever I went.  It was extremely obvious.  Yet, he was extremely kind to me.  

Not only that, but who has more responsibility and more important things to do: a vice-wing commander (someone who essentially runs an entire military base) or a maintenance guy?  Who deserves more respect: a renter or a contractor?  

Col Wimmer, I told you I’d never forget your kindness. I will always keep that promise.

A Sense of Community

Community is such a wonderful thing.  It takes effort – and sometimes hard work – to gain the feeling of community.  

Community helps us gain friends and acquaintances.  It offers the hope of someone being there for you when you are ill or down-and-out.  Living in community gives a sense of wellbeing and belonging.  

There are many different types of community – the city/region where you live, the strangers you meet and how you respond to each other as human-to-human, a church affiliation, societies and clubs, volunteer organizations, and the workplace are some of the places where you can gain a sense of belonging and attachment.

Community helps us gain perspective.  It helps us learn and grow as people, employees, colleagues, friends, and more.  Community helps us obtain a give-and-take – with the feeling of only taking.  

When I first moved to this area, I was reticent of searching for community.  It’s taken me more time to make a broad effort with this move than with previous moves.  

Ironically, churches are the most difficult to gain a sense of community.  An individual may reach out to you and encourage you to attend, but the general feeling of the church and church people is that they seem to be the first to give the feeling that you’re out there to take rather than give.  They appear to be afraid you are going to use them in some way rather than understanding the need for you to feel supported.  If you need food, clothing, medical assistance, they are the last to reach out.  They tend to be quite distant at first then slowly warm up.  (Although the cults/ultra-conservative religions tend to work in the opposite direction.)  They’d much rather you give than for you to receive.  However, churches and church members are often the first to give to organizations.  It’s a political move that I find fascinating and ironic.  The more you give to the community, church and organizations that are approved of, the more prestige you have within the church.  The story of the Good Samaritan is the most esteemed passage in yet Christians are more apt to perform more like the temple where Jesus threw a fit rather than the Good Samaritan.  I also love the story of the woman at the well where Jesus reached out to her – a total cast-off – when he didn’t know her and likely would never see her again in compassion, caring, engagement, and friendship. I totally don’t feel the connection like this when I visit a church or affiliation until I am there for months on a regular basis – with the promise of being there for much longer — and are not a student.  But… I’m getting off track.  

Another form of community is through visiting and being a customer of local businesses.  I often feel most at home and obtain a sense of community through restaurants, coffee shops, and local businesses I frequent.  A friendly face – and, if you’re lucky, a hug, someone who caters to your needs that you pay for (it gives a sense of give-and-take and a great feeling where you feel extra special when they give you a discount or freebie), someone you can show appreciation to, and someone who gives you the time of day are wonderful to obtain — especially when you’re feeling alone and isolated.  I have found these benefits through frequenting the local businesses in my community.  It gives the sense of having a friend (albeit they’re totally not a friend unless you somehow connect with them on a personal level outside of their workplace environment).  

The University of Washington has wonderful ideas as to how you can obtain community.  My absolute favorite idea is random acts of kindness.  To be randomly kind to someone is the most fantastically wonderful thing that totally makes my day.  I remember when I was living off a credit card to survive, I had extra change in my wallet.  I saw a meter that was out of time and was so very excited when I put a quarter or more into his meter.  It made me feel so incredibly good that I could help someone out in such a simple way. (This was in the old days where you fed a meter with coins and didn’t have the option for credit card usage or requirements for a piece of paper to make sure you haven’t hogged a parking place for too long.) Another wonderful thing that made my day was when a homeless person asked me to pay for a sub sandwich.  What a wonderful request!  I ended up giving a foot long as I was confident that he would share whatever he wasn’t able to eat or he would be able to fill up an empty stomach.  

Another idea is community service such as working through volunteering.  There are different ways to do this and so many different options.  You could fold, stamp, and lick envelopes for mailings; volunteer for a hospice or nursing home; hold babies at a hospital; do street outreach; mow the lawn for your church; tutor students at any level of education; teach English as a Second Language; be a cashier or greeter for a local fundraiser opportunity such as the snack bar at a school game or a venue for United Way… there are so many different ways to serve your community through volunteering. 

Another interesting idea that UW shares is that you can simply welcome new neighbors – or meet neighbors who are already in your community.  This is very fun as you can either just say hi, take them food, or invite them to your house for games, food, snacks, tea, coffee… whatever you can invent.  Greeting people as you meet them is wonderful and gives a warm feeling, but having community members in your home – or back yard – makes life so very less lonely during your extended free times.  

Something that is important – yet quite challenging – is to have a conversation with people who are totally different in view points, life experiences, attitudes, and way of living totally different than your own.  I met someone the other day who has a totally different viewpoint and makes choices in how she treats people in a way that I have a very difficult time with.  However, the person gave great insight that was extremely helpful.  To treat someone with dignity and respect, listen to them, learn from them, and not get angry or upset with what they have to say – when you disagree with them 75-100% – is a skill that is wonderful to obtain and engage in.  

One thing that UW didn’t mention is to gain a sense of community through education.  This could be through attending seminars, enrolling in classes at a community college or university, showing up to a talk or presentation at a local book store, or maybe even taking a cooking, acting, music or dance class.

I have learned over the years that gaining a sense of community takes a ton of effort, time, energy, motivation, want-to, drive, thinking power, trouble-shooting, and a willingness for a lot of personal learning, growth, and development.  However, it is so very, very worth it – with or without a life that takes you away from the community you have built – and do so many times over.  I have found that, thanks to email, phone, FB, and technology, I can always take friends with me wherever I go and make new friends that I can take with me to my next location. 

As I become more involved in my local community, I am feeling more and more of a sense of belonging.  I feel less isolated and alone.  I feel happier and more content.  The Canadian Mental Health Association suggests that “meaningful relationships, inclusion and participation [are] key outcomes that promote mental health.”  

What gives you a sense of community?  What advantages do you feel when you idealize, pursue, or obtain a sense of community?  What would it take for you to obtain – or build upon – your sense of community?  

Community is wonderful.  I totally recommend it.  

“I Want To Love And Be Loved”

I just ran into this quote on Facebook – love that site where we can stay connected by friends, learn fun tidbits, and see inspirational quotes.  The quote said “I want to love and be loved.”

It is interesting that I should run upon this quote as it’s been on my mind lately.  We need each other.  We need love, joy, and happiness by being together, reaching out to each other in love and acceptance – in community, family, individually, and globally.  

I ran into a family from my past.  It was wonderful to see them.  The couple and their kids are gorgeous.  There was a woman who was with them who was cold and distant.  It set me back and made me feel incredibly nervous.  My first reaction was to assume that she’s from the old school who believe in shunning.  It could be that she’s just naturally shy and distant, I do not know.  Some people believe that shunning is showing what it means to “love and be loved.”  Unfortunately it works opposite of this.  It creates fear, tension, isolation, loneliness.  It feels cruel and full of hate.  It fosters all sorts of physical and mental illness by people who experience the shunning – and sometimes even for the individuals who engage in that sort of behavior.  It’s crazy.  I’m really grateful for the display of love and kindness that the family from my past showed.  It was wonderful.  

I often wonder, what does it mean to love and feel loved?  What are the ingredients?  How does it feel?  I know it internally, but I don’t know how to articulate it.  There are so many facets to love – love in action, love in feeling, love in emotions…  There are so many people you need in your life to love and be loved – community, strangers, friends, acquaintances, family – immediate and extended…  

It seems to me that all humans and many animals and creatures all want to “love and be loved.”  What does it mean to you to “love and be loved”?  What makes you feel loved?  What do you do to show your love?  

Aloneness

Being in this world is interesting.  We can be surrounded by so many people, yet feel incredibly alone.  A few of my friends say “You have a lot of friends.”  It is wonderful to have so many friends – especially as many fabulous friends as I have.  

Even when you have many friends, it’s still easy to feel alone.  Some feel alone even when they have family.  Some feel alone even though they are surrounded by an incredible community.  Others do not feel alone at all because they have everything they need to not feel alone.  

I encourage you to never assume that someone is not feeling alone and/or lonely.  What makes you feel less alone, less lonely, may not be the ticket for them to feel belonging, to not feel alone or lonely.  

If you know of someone who is feeling alone and/or lonely, I encourage you to reach out to them in friendship and support.