Thursday, July 19, 2007

Share the pain~


My daughter Joanna called me on her way home from work. She does this to touch base, to let us know her plans.

She's 23, living home after college, which means she sleeps here Monday through Friday, is out of the house before I'm up in the morning, out until I'm asleep some nights, and away on weekends. Not a bad deal for both of us, although I love having her here. We probably talk more by cell phone and email than face to face.

We share commonalities, but we are really very different in many ways. That's why I don't write about her, usually. She's very private, and I try to respect that.

She tells me, "You have no filter, Mom!" This is usually hissed in a shocked whisper after I've offered a laughing comment in public that she feels is too . . . I don't know . . . unfiltered.

I don't agree that I have no filters, but my privacy sieve has larger holes than hers. I let more through. I learned to do this when I discovered how lonely it was to live one life on the outside, and the real one inside. She may discover this later in life.

She told me that a friend and colleague, a woman her age, did not come to work today because her mother died-- this morning. Only yesterday did the friend share that her mother was sick with cancer.

Joanna cried when she heard, alone in her office, she told me. She was shocked that this friend bore her mother's illness alone.

I didn't tell her this, but I wonder if she might do the same thing in a similar situation. She doesn't like to appear vulnerable. Don't we think that's what we are when we cry or feel sorrow? "I can handle it; I'm fine!" we say. "I'll be okay." Then we sob alone in the shower.

I've learned it helps to share pain. There are others who want to share my pain. I no longer filter mine.

I overheard Joanna on the phone telling someone about sympathy cards. "The cards are awful," she said. "It would be so mean to give some of them. They'd just make the person cry and feel bad."

Ahhh, but this she doesn't know yet. People who grieve already feel bad. It is the tears that come when they read a sympathy card from a friend that will make them feel better.

I didn't tell her this. She will discover it like I did.

6 comments:

Jennifer Curtis said...

Interesting, especially after our chat yesterday about the blog-filter. I too believe that those important lessons are best self-taught. I too want to figure it out on my own...it seems to actually become part of me that way.

jen

Bob Sanchez said...

Joanna has an interesting perspective. It's hard to see how a sympathy card could be mean, although many make me cringe with their contrived verse. When I need to buy a sympathy card, I always look for one that's blank inside.

Your comments are spot on; I suspect that Joanna will come around in her own good time.

Janice Thomson said...

What a wise and understanding mother to let your daughter learn these experiences herself. It would be so easy to jump in and explain but the impact would have little consequence.
I too am a very private person but I also have learned there is a time to share as well as a time not to share.
Thanks for this enjoyable and insightful post Ruth.

Belladonna said...

I found much power in your words:

"I discovered how lonely it was to live one life on the outside, and the real one inside. "

So many struggle to find the balance between leading an authentic life and keeping enough protective vaneer of privacy to hide our deepest vulnerabilities.

I'm intrigued by your perspective. I look forward to exploring further...

Jody said...

Oh, Ruth. Once again you miraculously find that balance (of which belladonna speaks) where your words--like a slow, light rain--sift through the cracks of one's soul so quietly we don't even realize the cracks are there until the softest touch lifts the water to the surface.

After a recent death in my own family, your words made me realize that grief, like love, is meant to be shared. We cannot have one without the other.

Ruth D~ said...

To you all . . . Jen, Bob, Janice, Belladonna, Jody~

That my post inspired you to respond is what makes sharing my thoughts worth it. Look at the collective wisdome pooled here:

Jen~ . . .those important lessons are best self-taught.

Bob~ When I need to buy a sympathy card, I always look for one that's blank inside. . . .Joanna will come around in her own good time.

Janice~ . . . I also have learned there is a time to share as well as a time not to share.

Belladonna~So many struggle to find the balance between leading an authentic life and keeping enough protective vaneer of privacy to hide our deepest vulnerabilities.

Jody~ . . .grief, like love, is meant to be shared. We cannot have one without the other.

You've all given me more to think about. Thanks you all.