“We don’t need fixing. We need someone who will – hold space – and quietly remind us that we are loved and we are not alone.” Mary Davis
I’ve been attending professional development on Cognitive Coaching. Every time I leave, I feel like I’ve been through two days of therapy. As much as we talk about coaching others, we talk about our feelings and if you know me, that’s one thing I love to talk about. In our session earlier this month, the facilitator shared this quote and I grabbed a picture of it because it sums up how I feel, have felt, about myself, for a very long time.
I like to joke that the last three or so years of my life have been a series of unfortunate events. From marital strife to personal health issues, and everything in between, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster that seems to just keep going. I’ve gone to therapy, I stay on my meds, and I talk to God about it a lot. Most recently though, I’ve tried to make it a point to tell folks how to handle me.
I know that for a lot of folks when the storms of life come, whether they are showers or hurricanes, they take it all in stride. They run for cover and patiently wait it out. They’re like Jesus on the boat when the storm came…they keep napping. I on the other hand am like the people on the boat with Jesus…I’m asking WTF is going on and how long this storm is going to last. In my not-so-humble opinion, neither approach is wrong; some of us are glass-half-empty types and some of us are glass-half-full types and we all have a place in this world.
But…not everybody can have that place in your life at all times. What I mean by that is – I’ve learned in the last three years that as many wonderful people I’m surrounded by, I have to know who I can go to when my glass is half-empty. It’s not that my glass-half-full friends aren’t valuable and don’t love me, but sometimes, their eternal optimism doesn’t allow me the space to feel everything I need to feel in order to process those unfortunate events. I liken it to going to my dentist because my contacts don’t fit correctly. They’re both doctors and great ones at that, but only my ophthalmologist can help with my contacts. It can be a difficult dance though because it requires a certain level of lying I’m not comfortable with. I’ve long been annoyed by saying “I’m fine” when I’m not, but I’ve come to realize that until others can just allow me to sit in the space where I’m not fine, I have to remove myself until I’ve dealt with whatever muck I’m in. Sometimes that takes hours and other times it takes days and weeks.
This quote came up for me today as I was considering my frustrations over not having my own car. One of the many things I struggle with is being in control. When you have to drive someone else’s car, even if it’s your spouse’s, there’s a certain loss of control there. I was upset with myself that I just “couldn’t get over it”. Then it hit me – it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to take a couple of days to mull it over, think about the pros and cons of our current situation, and if all else fails, it’s okay to cry and flip your car the bird as you walk past it in the garage. I used to think that my brain was broken; that my inability at times to handle daily stress was something to be fixed. I learned though that living with it allows me to see it in others, and help them. I’ve been able to see it in friends, family, and casual acquaintances, and in my opinion, it’s made me better able to help them through their muck. I know the look and feel of worry, of losing control, heartbreak, and betrayal, but I also know the healing that comes from facing all of it with people who listen and hold space for you. They don’t try to fix it or you and they don’t try to tell you it’s going to be okay (because y’all, sometimes shit just isn’t okay). They let you go through all of the emotions you need to and they’re there waiting for you on the other side of it.
While we were on our road trip, I bought a little silver turtle that has the saying “enjoy the journey” on the inside of it. I would also say, enjoy the people who go on the journey and recognize that some will be there all the time, others will get off and hop back on when the turbulence dies down, and others won’t ever make it out the gate. They’re all important but they all can’t come with you every time.
Until next time…