Have you ever noticed when people cry in front of you they generally interject an “I’m sorry” in amongst the tears? I see it all the time, the apology for being emotional, the embarrassment of being in “that” place of vulnerability, the ” this is my worst nightmare” being in public and trying to control the tears that are uncontrollable, the GET ME OUT OF HERE moment!
A few weeks ago I had a personal experience with tears that I wouldn’t probably choose to repeat BUT it didn’t kill me or my reputation – why you perhaps ask … because I seemed to be invisible!
It had been a tough 24 hours, you know those times in life where the waves of life crash all at once and you are crawling to your feet when another hits? Well it was one of those. I had excused myself from my son’s music class with a fake excuse because I could feel the tears brewing and I wasn’t with anyone I wanted to be with and was due to a doctors appointment for his suspected ear infection.
As I walked into the medical clinic it was like something just broke, and I could no longer play the “I’m fine” card (one which by the way I am BRILLIANT at (just saying)). I walked to the counter with a 2 year old trying to escape my clasp and as she asked me my name I began to sob … not cry … sob … I could not even pronounce my name. She stared at me, so did everyone else in the line. I tried to gain control of my breathing but it was to no avail, she continued to stare and look away as did everyone else in the entire clinic. I spelled out B. o. n d. and then heaving and hunched shoulders, I am not kidding when I tell you it was not pretty. After what seemed like an eternity I got through my surname and made my way to the waiting area where the silent sobbing continued and pairs of eyes all around the room were darting back and forward …
Not one person asked me if I was ok, offered a tissue, a glass of water, or came near me … by the time I got into the doctors appointment, nothing had changed and the doctor clumsily started looking into my sons ears as my mini hyperventilations were still active. After both ears checked he FINALLY said … ”are you upset about his ears” and then I stopped … and the rage kicked in … I won’t tell you what I wanted to say but I was indignant with his ridiculous approach, for goodness sake! as if I am that distressed about an ear infection!!!!
I walked out without finalising my account, head held high got in the car and made the fatal mistake of looking in the mirror … I was faced with mascara streaked across my forehead, earlobes and chest mixed with a soft hue of pale pink lipstick with hair stuck to my face, I can’t lie … I looked BEYOND horrible … and for the first time in 24 hours, I laughed!!
Now the moral to this post is simple, what have we constructed as a society, and community of human beings who cannot come to the aid of someone in distress? Why are tears such a barrier to connection? How does an entire medical clinic full of people NOT provide even the bare minimum of an “Are you ok?”. I think in theory everyone reading this post would say they would have come to my aid, but would you? Are you capable of sitting in the uncomfortable, the awkward, the messy, the vulnerable, the pain, and yes the snot-bubble. mascara stained. tears with confidence and grace?
Any of you who have sat in my counselling room would know that when tears enter the space, my approach is unbending – I am ok with them, I welcome them and I can sit with them for as long as we need too. For someone who is in pain, tears are quite literally an expression, language in fact. I want to be the person who is ok with the ME in the medical clinic. No amount of tissues or words very often change the situation but the expression of “I see you” has the power to equip and profoundly impact an individual.
Often people say to me,” I don’t know what to say like you, I’m not a counsellor!” My response; “It is not the counsellor in me who responds, it is the human in me and that is something we all have in common”
Tears: never ever apologise for them AND be the difference in someone’s moment.