- How we can feel lonely in the middle of a crowded room.
- How we can love and hate, with equal measure, the same person.
- That we don't ever really forget what it feels like to be 12 and insecure. (By the way, did you know that being 12 is such a big deal that the city of New York has a dedicated an entire PROJECT to helping kids through it? To them I say Booyah!)
- A person who is CLEARLY struggling, ignoring a fact the rest of the world can see. Pick a famouse person, pick a nonfamous person. We have all watched this at some time or another. Rather than speak out, question, or even just grab their hand, we watch and wait.
- How your body, a great resource and constant companion, can fight against your truest self.
- Politics. People never want to discuss politics unless, of course, they are already certain you are in agreement.
- Fear. My assumption is the list is long and wide and varied of what scares us. Once I tried to discuss this with someone. They professed to have no fears and so the conversation was short and I was shut down.
- How much we love the friends who save us. The women (sorry dad and Jim and Big Man and maybe Jeff, if he still reads), who bear our words. I love women who shout from the mountain tops-- I love you girl!I love you woman friend! I love you savior of mine! You keep me here! Thank you! Some of us do this, some of us don't, but the bottom line is we all know it's true and there is nothing to fear about that truth.
- How any marrige is hard.
- How we fail our children and our spouses and how we fail ourselves. These are only perceptions and the right listener will set you straight.See above shout-out to women who save us. The right listener lets you talk through all this until you get to the truer side of yourself- the side which is the one that says you are doing the very best that you can.
- What/Who God is to them.
- How communication, even in the best set of circumstances, is hard.
- How really, we all just want to be seen and heard.
- Atrocities. Certain news stories catch me and I get stuck in them. School shootings, the lost girls, lying public figures (too many to name). What do we do with all this bad news?
- How the moods we experience can be mystifying to us.
I think I have figured out that many people don't find that it helps to discuss such things. But for me, it is key to my well-being. I was carrying something that was really just sort of niggling me. It wasn't huge, but it was there and I could feel it. I kept it there for a couple of days and then an opportunity to share presented itself. I decided to be brave and I shared what was on my mind. Immediately I felt better. I let it out and this thing lost it's power over me.
And yet as often as not, even trying to talk can feel lonely. For those who dare to take a stab at just naming and calling out all this stuff, it is scary. Sometimes when a question is asked and no one replies, it feels like you have not been heard or that what you are wondering about does not matter. I cannot tell you how many times someone has shared a story with me and it always goes something like this.
Friend: "So I said to _______I just don't understand blah blah blah.."
Me: "Well, did you ask _______to explain blah blah blah?"
Friend: "I did."
Me: "Well, what did _______ say?"
Friend: "Nothing._______ just looked at me."
Silence can speak volumes, but the problem is no one really knows exactly what that silence is saying and all we are left with is our own wonky interpretation. In my Red Boot Coaltion meeting, silence is a safe and calm place because it is set up to be that way. In interpersonal day-to-day interactions like work and friends and family, silence is nerve-wracking, uncertain, tense.
Or maybe that is just my life. Will some poor reader will chime in here to re-assure me? Please?
And so I get why people stop with the questions. I get why they just sort of LET GO of whatever it is and this is not at all like Disney's Elsa. When that happens, you really have to work hard to keep your own head in a good space.
So I am wondering how life might be if we weren't always so quiet and we just spoke our truthiest truths (not my line- see Glennon from Momastery). What if we asked the questions everyone has on their minds? What if we just said those things that we can't stop wondering?
Maybe not much. But maybe, just maybe, a conversation would ensue and then who knows what?
You know how kids wonder about things? You know how they will ask you out of true and innocent curiosity--why would someone kill someone because they are a woman or black or Jewish or fill-in-the-blank? Why doesn't everyone want to save the earth? Why, mom, are people so mean?
My best answer is because they didn't know any better. I say it's because they were afraid to talk about what they were feeling. They were afraid to ask questions. They were afraid. And while this seems simplistic, I believe fear, left unchecked, shuts us all down.
And I believe what we don't know is because we don't take the time to find out and to listen and to bear witness to all that stuff we just keep bottled up inside.
So that's where I am today.
I am with all of you who want to speak out about your sadness, your sorrow, your fears, your questions about why, your own truth full of uncertainty and fear and also of love and goodwill.
It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO messy out there!
But I believe we can ease each other's burden just a bit with a sincere question and words of ecouragment to speak up when we are scared and uncertain. I believe this. I really do.