A couple of years ago, at a mom’s group I attended, six of us moms were sitting around a table and somehow got onto the subject of loss. A friend of mine started talking about her dog passing away. She began to tell the story of finding her sweet companion in pain and her voice choked up as she told her story. Without even thinking, I just started talking over her tears and maybe even telling a story of my own, or the story of a friend of mine whose dog died once. I still cringe when I think about it. I wince at the thought of how rude (and thoughtless, selfish, ignorant….) I was.
Our culture has become obsessed with comfort.
Anything beyond surface level or an “I’m okay” response is too much for us. We do almost anything to avoid pain and discomfort. Why is it that we can’t help but push through and move past the uncomfortable? This friend who lost her dog was being vulnerable in, what she thought was, a safe space. She didn’t need to hear my second hand story as she was in the middle of hers. She needed to be heard and understood. I couldn’t handle the awkwardness of her crying or the thought of not being able to fix it. I had an opportunity to listen and instead I blew past her pain. Have you ever done this?
I have mentioned before that I used to have a personal blog. I quit writing a couple of years ago because I couldn’t find the balance between being authentic and real and also using discretion to protect my family. While I don’t plan to quit blogging anytime soon, I’m struggling again to find that balance.
I am learning that it’s okay not to be okay.
I know that shining light on vulnerable subjects (in my case mental illness and divorce in my family) gives space for others to relate and say “me too”. It helps us to feel less alone and “normal” when others validate our experiences with their own. I imagine that someday I will share about these intimate struggles. The truth is, I also know that things are about to get worse before they get better. I’m not sure when I will be ready to share about it or air my family’s dirty laundry. Right now I’m comfortable enough to say that things aren’t okay right now. And that is okay.
Have you ever shared something uncomfortable to have your feelings diminished?
I have shared bits and pieces here and there with friends. I’ve been bombarded with complicated questions that I can’t answer. I’ve perceived most feedback as judgment that has instantly closed up my vulnerable and fragile heart.
Do you dismiss others when they share the hard things because you don’t want to sit with them in their pain or discomfort?
Maybe you’re going through something hard right now, too.
I’ve also heard stories that sound like something from a page of my own story. Some have shared things I am sad to say I can relate to. It’s when we hold space for each other and sit in solidarity in the discomfort that we decide who is “safe” to open up our real lives to.
Maybe you know all too well how going on with your everyday life feels overwhelming. Maybe you are also trying to choose joy in a messy season. Maybe you too are having sweet moments with your family one minute and then losing your patience with them because of the dissonance happening within your own head. I see you and I hear you.
I may not know what it feels like to walk in your shoes right now, and I won’t pretend to. However, I will try my best not to greet you with judgment or rush you through your hard stuff.
Let’s hold space for each other, shall we?