It has now been just over a year since we arrived and it feels as if no time has passed. For a few of my friends though, time has been painfully slow as they struggle with different challenges and wonder if the fog of grief from their individual losses will ever lift. An acquaintance recently took out her grief on me as she raged about how life was so unfair with her new ‘situation’. I tried to share about the countless friends who had gone through her current situation but were now, in hindsight, in a much better place. I did stop short of the age-old “time heals everything” refrain as I had recently read somewhere that time did not ‘heal’ per se but rather “accommodates” the pain, loss and change that an event can bring.
And so I tried different approaches, from being a sympathetic ear to cheerleader, to pragmatic advisor. I soon got tired of the tsunami-sized animosity that kept coming at me though. She attacked my seemingly good health. I responded I was dealing with issues she was not aware of. She challenged my claim and I shared things even my husband and GP are unaware of. She scoffed, finding injustice at my seemingly charmed life. I told her she did not know my story and that everyone had stuff they were trying to deal with and get through, myself included, that what you saw was often not the whole ‘story’. And then she attacked my mothering skills. That hurt. She had found her mark. I bit back any retort and chose not to go into any sort of verbal combat, pushing down my anger at what I perceived as her lack of grace, realising she was lashing out through her pain. She followed me around the house throwing more barbs. I retreated more and more into myself and slowly but surely pulled away; but at the same time feeling like a failure for not being able to help her. Her parting shot was that she had come to me with her heart in pieces, with the inference I had failed her by not helping put her together again. But I guess, in hindsight, I was the wrong person to help.
In the days and weeks following, as my mind replayed the encounter like a bad playlist on repeat, I had many conversations with my girls about life, challenges and the challenge of climbing out of the emotional pit when you have had one of those days/weeks/months. We talked about empathy and of how every single person is going through ‘stuff’ -- be it personal or through association. We talked about how the content of certain days can feel like the worst day ever but how to symbolically, psychologically and emotionally recover -- and come out stronger on the 'other' side by feeding the soul. My timing was ‘lucky’ because not long after that topic du semaine, Faith came home absolutely devastated about the day she had had, where everything felt like an uphill battle every which corner she turned.
After her tears dried, we spoke about how what she was going through is real life and as such, there are always going to be good days and bad. I explained that every single day cannot be perfect as that is just the way life is but that how one reacted to and tackled any sort of challenge often shaped the severity of that ‘blow’ and what kind of ‘state’ you ended up in after that ‘bout’ in the proverbial boxing ring. That earned me a beautiful smile. Although I was not able to be helpful to my acquaintance, I was grateful I could be somewhat ‘useful’ to my child.
Shortly before I sat down to write this, I came across the following piece: “Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” We ALL have stuff. We ALL have good and not so good days – regardless of how well we might be able to mask it to the rest of the world. BUT, what we need to get through another tough day is already inside each and every one of us – we just need to take a moment to reach for that courage and take that leap of faith that WE are ENOUGH.