Almost three years to this day, two dear friends drove 300 miles in one day to lay eyes on me. They’d read a troubling post I’d written a few weeks prior. A dark, desolate thought for their beloved friend, no matter how fleeting, sent up red flags two friends could not ignore.
I was kind-of hoping none of my close friends would read that post, but I was secretly relieved they did. I am most comfortable being the one who helps, not the one who is helped. But when my friend Carrie texted, “I’m coming,” I cried with relief.
“Thank you,” I typed back.
And she came, driving 300 hundred miles in one day with another one of my dear friends to see me.
We ate lunch together for several hours, talking and laughing like old times. When I reluctantly said I needed to get going, my friend Kellie touched my arm. “Wait,” she said. “About that night in the hotel room in Canada – are you ok, Rachel?”
Before I answered, time stood still. I couldn’t help but think about how hard it must have been to ask that question. We’d had such an enjoyable lunch – my friends could have easily concluded I was in a better place and left it at that. But instead my friend went there – into the territory of awkward, uncomfortable, and hard-to-talk-about because my wellbeing was more important than her comfort.
For twenty minutes, my friends listened. Being one who prefers to listen, not the one who is listened to, I felt like I was talking too much. But this is why they came, I reminded myself. They wanted me to talk to them. Never once did they look away from my tearful face. Never once did they look at their watches or the door. I honestly think I healed more in that twenty minutes of sustained attention and loving presence than I had from a solid month of self-care that I’d been practicing diligently.
As I drove home enveloped in a cocoon of love, acceptance, and belonging, I thought of my two daughters. I hoped that one day they would have a Carrie and Kellie … and that they would BE a Carrie and Kellie – those who sense something is off and say, “Are you ok? I'm coming.”
It is not a coincidence I am sharing this story now—one week after the release of my latest book. The very thing that brings tremendous joy and purpose to my life also triggers damaging beliefs and unhealthy coping mechanisms when the pressure to perform is high. For months, I’ve prayed I would not end up like I did after the launch of Only Love Today. I have tried to practice self-care, but at times, I find myself slipping into dark territories. This week, initial sales numbers for Live Love Now were presented to me. Numbers are not my friend. Numbers say: Not enough. Work harder. Do more. I combatted those debilitating voices by having my first call with a therapist. My sister Rebecca says there is not a single person in the world who cannot benefit from therapy. She said that to me a couple years ago. This week, I listened. I don’t want to ever stop listening, learning, healing, and speaking out about what it means to be human.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, I speak out to you because I know I don’t have to be strong with you—and I want you to know you don’t have to be strong with me.
And I will continue my vow to speak out to my children because I want them to know they can turn to me in their darkest hours.
And just in case you wonder what such a vow might look like, let me give you a quick glimpse:
As Avery and I were on a walk the other day, my phone inside my fanny pack rang. Making sure it was not my parents, I saw my friend’s name. It was a friend who is working to overcome an incredibly difficult obstacle to be well.
When I answered, she thanked me for my book… and then she began to cry.
She said, “A few months ago, I was in a dark place, and I thought about who I could turn to… who would accept me in that state. The first person who came to my mind was you.”
Aware that Avery was in earshot, I contemplated what to say. And then I remembered – this is how we change the narrative… this is how we lift the shame… this is how we become a Carrie or a Kellie.
“Everyone has things they struggle with – every single person,” I said to my friend as my child listened. “And you can always come to me; I will never judge you. I love you.”
And when I got off the phone, I was expecting Avery to ask me what was wrong.
Avery did not mention the struggle she overhead or the tears she saw me cry; she only said this:
“That’s the kind friend I want to be.”
And in a single moment, my vow was confirmed. Whenever a window opens for conversation about difficult topics, I vow to gather my courage and seize the opportunity to talk about this beautiful and often challenging life.
“Are you ok?” I will ask, willing to accept whatever answer comes.
I am convinced this is what we must do for each other. We must invite each other into the living, breathing, painfully hard, and shamefully dark moments of our lives. We must not stay closed up, separated, disconnected, hurting, and adrift. We must extend our hands and find each other in the middle of the mess.
“I am here; take my hand,” we will say.
And then we will walk side by side, through awkward and uncomfortable territories, on our path to wellness and peace.
My hand in yours.
I love you.
My friends, I’m so grateful to share that LIVE LOVE NOW is a National Bestseller, debuting on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller List yesterday! LIVE LOVE NOW was also featured on Yahoo Life’s list of “13 Books You’ll Want to Get Yourself for Mother’s Day.” People are embracing the message of living love, which means stronger relationships, improved well-being, and greater fulfillment in the lives of young people and the adults who love them. Check out the reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to see how this book is helping families right now. Become the Guide, Encourager, and Truth-Teller kids need as they navigate the complexities of life, including technology, mental health, rejection, life skills, and more.
If you missed the final book trailer for LIVE LOVE NOW, please take a moment to watch. The song was written/sung by Avery. The videos are our children showing us what brings them peace and gives them life. The words were ones I spoke to a hurting child who considered leaving this earth. Now more than ever, our kids need acceptance, room to breathe, and places to shine so they can become who they are meant to be. Please keep this vital message going. Please LIVE love. Now is the time.