Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Compassion, Life Experience, and Love.

Once in awhile life sort of forces me to deal with something. Like a flu.  I get heart sick. I develop a fever. then I start vomiting out my truth.  then I lie around in bed crying and writhing for a couple days and then I'm back.  This is how I am.  Its not a process I invented. I'm not super fond of it. My mother has been trying to medicate it since I was 18.  My friends are made uncomfortable by it.  No one likes to see their loved one in pain of any kind. 

Other people are made uncomfortable by it because it reminds them of something. Maybe that they have a truth to deal with, or that they don't have the capacity to feel that way.  Or...whatever. 

But the flavors of "support" I get are always fascinating.  Like when you are pregnant and everyone has some kind of kooky advice for you.  Don't wear pantyhose, the baby will suffocate.  Don't cry, it makes you seem weak.  mmmkay.  Can I borrow those pantyhose??

One of the many things I have learned about in hospice is compassion.  Sure, I certainly had compassion when I signed up.  But I learned truly what it is.  And how it works. And one of the facets of compassion is meeting the other person where they are.  Truly where they are and not where you think they should be. 

When you are dealing with a patient with a terminal disease, it does little good to comfort them with silly "there there you're ok"s.    You just shut up and listen. When the brain is affected and when they insist they are on a boat in France in 1947 with a man named Luke, and they just did a jewelry heist and her hair is the sexiest shade of purple ever, and the staff at the hospital makes her scrub toilets with a toothbrush and eat paste, well then you meet her IN that reality.  You don't try to convince her that's wrong. Because she'll pick up her community dining hall cup and smack you in the head.  It is her reality at that moment.  Let it be hers.  Comfort the fears or emotions that come out of that belief and meet her in HER moment, don't try to bring her to yours.

In much the same way, when I share my struggles, I do not love to hear things like "well it could be worse", "well the grass always looks greener but....", "everyone has struggles, some are worse than yours", "count your blessings, look how lucky you are", or my favorite "oh here we go, again..."

First of all, if my life experience being so raw and out there is hard for you, feel free to remove yourself from my experience.  That's all I will say about that.

Secondly, let me explain to you that you do not know what my struggles have been, or why I act the way I do in certain circumstances. 

So I will explain now...

I think I have a bit of PTSD of some variety. Because where certain events come up I think they trigger certain feelings which feel just like the feelings I had when the original event came up. That makes me think that the next thing to come is going to be ...the bomb going off.  it was just a feeling. But all my nerve endings get all prepped for the big bomb.  Its usually just a dog barking. But I'm a jumpy bitch, man.

I have known a lot of people and heard a lot of things. and a lot of things can lead a person to become a jumpy bitch. here are some possible experiences that could lead a person to be a little fucked up.

enter,  the police,a little boy crying, a bedroom turned upside down, a bullet with writing on it, and a house that was wrecked. doors and pictures shattered.  things turned over.  rubble.

the hallway, and a baby in her arms that was just a few weeks old...and there was shoving.

all the mysterious vomit in the backyard. 

empty bottles in the closet.

mysterious passing out in the shower and falling out of bed.

constant illness. The pain of walking on eggshells all the time.  constantly.

numerous phone calls over the years that someone had taken their life. Several of those may have hit very close to home.  No one should ever have to endure ONE of those, let alone multiple ones. 

But people do.  PEOPLE do experience these things. and others.

miscarriage. after months and months of deliberating whether its right, a pregnancy. joy beyond compare. And then, that news in the ultrasound room.  The horror of a D&E to remove the joy.  the friends who say "everything happens for a reason" or "well I'm sure its for the best as there must have been something wrong with it"

baby seizures and hospital stays.

joblessness. Utter joblessness.  and the hopelessness that goes with it. 

the husband and lover who swore that they would love until the ends of time, and do all the things they vowed to do.  Only not for you.

being cut off, removed, ripped away, from what was supposed to be the forever joy of union, by sickness and illness, and brokenness. 

Lonliness. unworthiness.  

constant fear of failure. fear of not making it.  fear of never ever being good enough. fear of never having enough. fear of losing everything AGAIN.

sure, those things may not seem rational from the outside.  could it be worse? of course.

I know  I wasn't born in Africa, have all my limbs and health, and million other things. and trust me, I am grateful to the point of tears every single day.  every SINGLE day!! sometimes maybe too much. sometimes I struggle to feel that I deserve all the blessings I have.  how is a gratitude journal going to work on that? when I wonder how I am worthy of anything good, how is listing it all going to help me?

was that raw enough for you? shall we exchange some trite colloquialisms now to comfort you? is my hand. you can pat it and say there there silly, you're so dramatic.  Or you can hold it and just 

Yes everyone has struggles. Some are obvious. Some are suffered in silence.  Some are not quite what you think they are, are they?