One of the greatest feelings in the world radiates from the warmth of a child’s hand clinging with familiarity to yours in an unspoken act of intimacy. A silent request for comfort, companionship, security, encouragement, assistance, strength, and love.
In December of 2015, I was diagnoses with a chronic mental illness.
For some time I had felt alone despite being surround by my family. I was lost in my own mind, and unsure what was happening. It was scary, and I was afraid to look at myself, or ask for help. I had forgotten how to reach for a hand.
My diagnosis felt bittersweet. On one hand there was relief because now I had an idea of what was happening, and I could start putting myself back together. On the other hand, I had no idea what it meant for me, my life, and my roles in life?
Part of my illness, and part of my acceptance of my illness, has involved a component of anger. Sometimes I just feel angry. The logical part of myself knows that feeling angry is okay, it is the expression of that anger that can be unhealthy. With that in mind, I advise my family when I am not quite feeling like myself.
On one such occasion I was feeling angry, and I wanted to shut myself away from everyone and everything. This isn’t a realistic activity, especially in my role as mother. As a solution I got down on my knees, and told my boys that mommy was feeling a bit angry. I made it clear to them that it had nothing to do with them.
My 5 year old listened with loving eyes. He waited patiently for me to finish before he said, “Momma, you know what you can do? Just take a big breath in, all the way, and then just let it all out. That will make you feel better momma!” He said it with such surety and feeling, simple acceptance that mom wasn’t feeling happy, but that was okay.
I looked at this little man standing in front of me, really looked at him. He had no judgement, or reservations. It just was, and I just was. Furthermore, in one innocent little statement he had reminded me that all I needed to do was breathe through it. I couldn’t help but smile at him, and his ease of perception. The smile spread from my face, to my mind, and to my heart.
As we had done so many times before, we grasped hands. Only this time it was his hand that offered me comfort. It was his small hand, warm and encouraging in mine. A solid reminder of love, kindness, and reassurance.
With hands clasped, I give thanks for the reminder that it is okay to reach for, and accept a hand. That there are hands to help with each step forward, one day at a time. We all need a hand sometimes.
“Holding hands is a promise to one another that, for just a moment, the two of you don’t have to face the world alone.” – Unknown
By Shari Marshall with deep thanks to my husband, and my children for being my safe place! – 2016