Last night, I read a blog post by a woman in the UK. I have followed her for a while, and although I have not been the best lately (out of being busy) at commenting, I had to stop what I was doing and re-read the post. More than once. Not only did I exert the energy to click the like button (which really should be a “love” button), I offered up a comment. However, as I have battled the craziness on and off in my own head since Saturday (if you really need evidence, I sacrificed my entire lunch today to document it), this post kept crawling back into my mind. It brought me to tears the first time I read it, because I identified with both the stranger and the person central to this story.
I want you to think back to a time when you in public and so overcome with pain.. whether it was from a breakup, fallout from being abused, just losing a loved one, or being faced with insurmountable odds that you somehow ended up navigating anyway… think of a time when you could not, despite your environment and a crowd of strangers surrounding you, hold back the sadness, the emptiness, the hurt, the fear anymore and it let loose like a floodgate.
To throw myself under the bus, I will use the morning I left Kevin as an example. When I went to work, I was already under extreme duress. I was panicking in my head and barely holding it together. I smiled on the way in, said good morning to everyone, attacked the coffee pot in the break room before the department manager drank it all on us… Sat down, and started to work. The calls from him started to come. I answered them. After a few hours of hissing and threats and yelling, I stopped. I called his sister to tell her goodbye, that I loved her, but it was time to go. All the while, he is burning up the second line, leaving nasty messages, and calling and harassing all the girls in my department as well as the security desk. All this time, I am doing my rote task of data entry in SAP, and I make the mistake of answering the phone without looking at the number. Just once, that’s all it took.
I made the mistake of asking why I was needed at home. His response was “You’ll find out when you get here.” He had stopped taking his sister’s calls. I hung up and called her back. My monitor was frozen on the same document. By this time, one of the girls in the department had come by asking me a question about later in the afternoon. Almost immediately following, my supervisor and another girl in the department came over wanting to ask me questions. I had just brushed off the department manager earlier while Kevin was burning up the phone, and as the one girl finished asking me her question, I slowly hung up the phone. And I snapped. No one at work, during everything I endured silently up to that point, ever once saw me upset or down, let alone crying. It let loose like a flood gate.
Perhaps it made them extremely uncomfortable, but their response led me to feel even worse. As the first girl asked me if I was okay, and all I could do was shake my head, I saw the others back hesitantly away, only quickly asking the same before the vanished. Everyone vanished. The co-workers sitting around me stole glances at me occasionally looking with their heads tilted to the side, obviously trying to reconcile what had just happened. I had to go seek my supervisor out. No one came over to me, lest they get sucked into the black hole. LOL I have to admit looking back, I would have had a blue-screen moment in my brain, especially seeing someone who never breaks down pushed to the point where it came out against her will.
This is the thing I thought of most while reading the post last night, wishing that someone had shown that compassion in the minutes I needed it most, instead of staring or looking away awkwardly. Emotional pain makes many people uncomfortable. This I can understand. However, once I get over the moment it takes me to reconcile what is going on, I have this innate thing in me that moves me to reach out to them to offer them comfort. And this is what this blog author did, when no one else around her did. It wasn’t even a huge thing she decided to do, but she approached her, and instead of hovering over her, she sat down. She smiled, and she offered the crying woman a tissue. She risked the possibility of intruding on the woman’s space, because she had heartfelt compassion and mercy for her. And she could not look away.
It was not a huge thing, offering a tissue to someone, but it was the motive behind it. She was letting the woman know that she understood, and even if only for a few minutes, offer her some solace that a total stranger cared about her condition enough to risk the intrusion. She asked if she was okay, and briefly touched her arm in concern. Such a little thing, but how I wish I could have been there to witness the effect it had on the crying passenger.
Even in all the craziness inside my head, this simple act breaks through. Compassion. I love seeing acts of compassion.
So again to this blogger, I say thank you, and I leave you all with the link to her post, The Lady on the Train. Enjoy and share.
In love and support,