Hard Conversations and why we should have more of them!

Hard conversations are just that, they are hard. They take effort and energy and they’re just draining in general. Very few people ever actually want to have hard conversations. The main reason that we do is that we have to. But let’s get real. Sometimes life is hard. Deal with it. Talk about it.

I wanted to talk about this because while I try to keep this blog as upbeat and positive as possible the reality is that there is a lot of shit going on in the world. We see it every day. Whether it’s in our own lives or on the news or social media. It seems like every day there is another reason the world is crashing down. I mean think about it, what do you see when you turn on the TV? What do you hear when you turn on the radio? Scrolling through your Facebook? What is it you’re seeing? There are more negative stories than positive ones. Why is that? There is more death and destruction being publicized than acts of kindness and virtue. Why is that? There have been, I believe, 154 mass shootings in the US this year alone. That is not including all of the other horrible crimes that we commit against each other. For what? What good has come out of all of that? Has anything good come from it? Can we please at the very least learn something from this?

Mental health has been a huge topic with all of this violence in the world today. One thing that I don’t think gets as much attention as maybe it should be is that mental health isn’t just being depressed, suicidal, bipolar, etc. Mental health is just that. It’s all of our mental and emotional dealings and whether or not we are taking the time and energy we need to keep that positive. Mental health conversations have this stigma that you have to be pretty messed up to have mental health issues. That’s so not true! I can have a crappy day and let it get to me and that is me not caring for my mental health the way I should. I can be totally happy and there is still a conversation about my mental health because I’m doing well in managing it. It doesn’t matter if you’re diagnosed with something or not or if you’re seeing a professional or not. We all have mental health issues to deal with every day of our lives. The important thing is how we manage and care for it. Since mental health has such a stigma attached to it we often try to stay away from the topic. Doing this doesn’t help anything but what it does do is limit the conversations. Having a stigma around mental health keeps us from having the hard conversations. We don’t want to talk about it because it’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, it’s not always happy. We don’t want to have to actually deal with what’s going on because it’s hard. #Southernmorningcoffee

What would happen if we all set aside our own judgments on mental health and just had the conversations that we needed to as they came up? Do you think maybe we might understand each other a little better? Maybe we might have a little more empathy for one another? One factor that comes up a lot with mass shootings for example is someone who’s mental health was not cared for. Whether it’s a child shooting up a school or a grown person shooting up the Vegas strip. At some point they needed care from themselves and from others. What if we were all having all of these hard conversations and it was just how society was. We all tried not to judge and not to place blame but we genuinely tried to just be there and help? How would society be different? How many tragedies both big and small could we prevent by simply being open and having the hard conversations?

I started writing a book a while back that is basically a memoir of sorts. I am nowhere near finished with it but the basis of this book was just to show my experiences in life. Now why would anyone care about the things that I have been through in my life? For starters, when I first got the idea I was watching the news. There was a little boy, beautiful little boy and he had killed himself because he was gay. Not long before that I was watching the news and a beautiful child had jumped off a bridge and killed themselves because they were gay. I was that age once. I was confused and judged and Lord help I did have any clue as to how to deal with all of the feelings that I was going through. I didn’t know if they would be accepted or ridiculed. I was that kid. I had those moments. I looked like the all American girl on the outside but inside I was just as confused as everyone else on the inside. I was lucky though. I had a family that I could talk to about anything and two best friends who just loved me for me. This doesn’t mean that I told everyone everything I was feeling but it did give me a safe place to land when I needed it. Needless to say, I survived those years but I was sitting there watching the news and all I could think about was, if those kids only knew that it can get better. So much can change. If they only knew this with confidence then maybe they would stop killing themselves and hurting themselves. I wanted to write my story to show them that you can survive it and it is so worth it. It’s worth it to keep going and grow up. I don’t know any of these children or adults that hurt themselves or others. Maybe they too had a safe place to land and chose not to take it. Maybe there was nothing that could have been done to help them see a different way. But maybe we can help some to see a way out. If we can open up conversation in this country and ease off on the judgment just a little, who’s to say we can’t save someone? Even just one person would be worth all the effort it would take to change the conversation of our society.

My brother gave a speech one time. It was one of his first “real” speeches and it was on equality. Basic, human equality. There is one thing that he said in that speech that I can hear to this day just like he’s standing in front of me. One thing that just hit me hard. He said, “That little boy that is afraid to go to school because he is being bullied, that little boy doesn’t have time to wait. That little girl that’s sitting in an orphanage and she just wants someone to love her and tell her it’s going to be ok, that little girl doesn’t have time to wait.” Now I totally paraphrased that but he was so right then and he is still right today. He also said in that speech that, “the time for change is always right now.” He’s right again. The time to have these hard conversations and to get real with ourselves and with others is always right now. The time to stop hiding behind what we think others want us to be is always right now. We don’t realize that by being fake or scared and hiding and not having the real conversations we are doing nothing but hurting ourselves and the next generation. We need to show the world now that we are all human. We all make mistakes. We all have our skeletons and that is ok. The time to have the hard conversations is always right now.

I used to have a hard time with the hard conversations no matter what the topic was. I hated them. I would avoid them to no end. A few years ago I made the decision to stop being afraid and to have the conversations whether they were hard or easy all the time, no matter what. When I did that something happened that I didn’t realize would. Others followed. Other people around me that I was opening up to started to do the same. It created a safe place for all of us to just be us without fear. That’s what I want for this blog. I want a safe place for us to all talk. A safe place for us to all share our stories and help each other to deal with life in its best and worst moments. I really believe that if we can start holding our judgments a little more and opening our hearts and minds then we can prevent so many tragedies. We can prevent so many moments of despair in so many people if we can only show others that we are here and we are human and sometimes shit is just hard and that’s ok.

So what is a conversation that you didn’t have but wish you did? What is something that you held inside and never let go of? Do y’all have friends and family to go to? How do they help you when you need them? How can we help each other? How do we start the hard conversations? #southernmorningcoffee

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