Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What It Looks Like From Here

There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels for someone, for someone, pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echos.
Milan Kundera 

I feel too much...all the time. 
There are a lot of rules--"shoulds" and "ought tos". 
The news rubs me raw, so I do not watch it. Maybe it is because I feel it all so intensely that the world scares me. Maybe that is what you see in my small world that looks like control, sounds like me judging.

It might be that my mother was the unchanging, solid piece of my life-- that makes me so passionate about being the "mother" that I am. 

My grandfathers died before I was born, so I did not know them and my father was sick my whole life died when I was 17. It was my father-in-law that healed some of those tender spots in me. He delighted in his grandchildren, giving them the gift of his time and attention. He treated me as a daughter and the love and nurturing he gave filled holes in me that I didn't realize were as vast. A sense of security of "knowing" you are cared for, As cancer was robbing us of him, I did what I could to make all of our time count. I knew what it was like to have illness take away what was "normal" as a kid. So I stressed over how to keep life as normal as possible for my children,being honest with them as we helped Grampa on his journey away from us. I pushed the family to do all they could to have "no regrets". It was another loss, too soon and I grieved deeply.

It is definitely all the illnesses that has made the telephone something I shun. 3 of my sister's 4 children with hereditary pre-cancerous polyps requiring major surgery, and their father, my brother-in-law died of cancer in his stomach, my other brother-in-law battled synovial carcinoma in his brain for 11 years. There was multiple brain surgery, chemo and radiation and the loss of his eye---try to explain those things to his nephews and niece and prepare them to see him and to lose him. There has been my nephew's burns from an explosion and a serious motorcycle accident. My niece's surgery for Thyroid cancer and her sister's surgery that exposed ovarian cancer and all the treatments to beat that.    
My brother's diagnosis with leukemia and his bone marrow transplant that I donated to him just 5 weeks after the birth of my second son. There was the hernia operations on my other brother and the complications that made him septic and caused his death. There was the 10 days in we spent in Children's with my 2 and a half year old whose appendix had ruptured and filled her abdomen with poison, surgery on my 2 yr olds face to remove a pyogenic granuloma and the emergency room trip when he was hit by a batted golf ball that split open his cheek. Luckily it was not a bit higher or over to the left---missing blindness or death. We won't talk about losing my mother.

It could be that all of this and more makes me seem to need to be in control, makes me sound like I am judging or pushing or holding on too tight. The world is uncertain, scary and loud so I hang on tight hoping that "home" will always feel secure. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sometimes there are no words necessary - repost from 6/29/2011

Words, words, words.....
sometimes there are no words necessary.

Did you know that? Think about it. Think about the times when someone you know is struggling, maybe you barely noticed, because in the scheme of things, what they are struggling with seemed small and insignificant. There are bigger things. You know this. But today, for that person, whatever they are struggling with is enormous...it weighs on them.

They don't need you to fix everything. They don't need to hear that they'll be better, stronger, smarter...pick your adjective for their struggle. Think of all the cliche sayings that people offer up. Time heals all wounds. Tough times make you stronger. You'd do better if you would try harder....

In your life when have any of those things actually made you feel better, feel understood, feel loved, feel less sad, feel less overwhelmed....did they when you were young? Do they now?

How many of you know a teenager or were one? Raise your hand. How many of you adults see a teenager everyday? What is the message you are offering them? Are you selling them on the idea that they are extraordinary or is the mantra that they should try harder, be more grown up, that they have it easy?

Are you a teacher, a coach, an adult in the school system? How many hours of the week do those teenagers spend time in your presence? You are probably seeing these kids more than their families are. Do you make them feel smarter? Do you show them respect or only demand it from them? Do you ask them to be organized? Do you teach them what "organized" looks like? Do you listen as well as talk?

There is a lot of talk these days about anti-hate, anti-bullying--about what not to do.
Are we teaching How to be compassionate?...What being a good friend looks like? Do we teach them to look for people's stories...the things no one talks about? To think that there is much more to people than what is showing on the outside? 

What do you assume? It is a good rule--to never assume anything. What it looks like may not be all there is...maybe if you knew the whole story you would view them differently.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou

With teens you really need to listen to hear their stories, you have to be willing to be patient, you need to think about what they are offering when they tell you things....if you want them to share, you have to be aware that how you respond makes a difference in whether they will come to you again.

They don't need you to fix everything. They need you to hear where they are....we all do. We all want someone in our lives "to want to". We want you to want to help/listen/care ---name whatever it is that you need NOW. Whether it is as simple as getting the milk from the fridge, making cookies, doing something for me that I say feels too hard....you only have to convey that you want to.

Maybe you are talking to a friend that is 100s of miles away and she is having a horrible day, month, year---maybe the thing that has tipped her scale is that she just wants someone to get her 2 eggs so she can finish the cake she is baking and no one is there to help.....
Would she feel better if you say-I can't help you--you'll just have to go to the store 
or if you say--I'll be right over with whatever you need....the latter would probably make her smile, feel loved, feel supported from miles away.

And sometimes there are no words----
you just have to listen. Hear the sadness, hear the struggle and let them know that it's okay to be where they are. It is enough to listen and show compassion for the difficulty today. If they talk, maybe that is all they need, just a friendly place to say how they feel which is often very different from what they know to be...

Sometimes there are no words necessary.