The community gave up on me, so I gave up on myself

There are few times when someone says something and it penetrates me.  This was one of those times.  On Saturday, there was a celebration of life at the We Got This garden for 4 boys who died.  A woman started speaking on the stage and I was immediately drawn into her words.  She talked about having her son when she was 15 years old.  She said how alone she felt and eventually she felt that: “The community gave up on me, so I gave up on myself.”

I can’t imagine having a son when I was 15 years old.
I can’t imagine having that son die.
I can’t imagine feeling that an entire community has given up on me.
I can’t imagine wanting to give up on myself.
I can’t imagine that I would be able to keep going after any one of those things.

When I think about about the cycle of poverty or the effects of living in the poorest zip code in Wisconsin, this is the face.  This beautiful woman who eloquently talks about moments in her life that were so hard. She isn’t jaded as I would be.  She is grateful that she can bring those experiences and make sure others don’t have that same experience feeling that the community has given up on them.

It is this woman’s words that reminds me, I haven’t really had anything bad happen to me.  Because of the color of my skin, I have a padding around me where I am less likely to experience the community giving up on me. It isn’t right that she has had to go through so many hard things.  It is remarkable that she was able to mature well beyond her years and find peace.  When she didn’t have anyone to rely on, she found a way within herself and that is awe-inspiring.

It makes me wonder how I can support someone who feels they have been given up on?  How can I see the unseen?  What can I do today for those who feel that the community has given up on them?

Alex and I talk about this on our recent podcast a bit more but I would love to hear how you think we can support our community members who feel they have no support.