Look at me y’all, posting three times in one week!
I’m sorry, I won’t usually be this persistent.
And I promise I will write about food again. Eventually. There is something to be said about living in food every day. I don’t necessarily have the mental energy to digest what it is I do, and why it’s different than cooking at home. For a lot of reasons, but mostly because nailing a cake at home and posting pictures is different than nailing a cake every day for 360 days a year. That takes a different kind of energy.
But I realize, those are the choices we make when cooking becomes a passion.
I guess what I wanted to fumble around with today, are things that have been helpful and not helpful in the process of moving and changing and growing. Mostly because I know there are folks out there who are in all sorts of positions. They feel stuck, either in their own hole, or are trying to help a friend or family member get out of theirs.
I was recently distracted by a video explaining the differences between empathy and sympathy. Let it be clear, both are inherently good things. Don’t think that I’m making out one to be better, though different actions call for different responses.
I am an empathic person. Meaning, I don’t quite know how to respond as quickly with words as I would if I were to give you sympathy. I also don’t necessarily need to give you words. I give you what I feel your heart needs. Most of the time, it is silence. I can give you proximity. A hug, if you feel safe enough to accept it.
I will not give you advice. At least not for a while, or even if I feel capable of doing so.
What I’ve come to believe, is that we all have the answers to what we need inside of us. What we don’t have are tools. We don’t always have ways to get at what we need. Especially communicating that to another person.
When someone tells me they’re having a hard time with something, my first and best response is to just listen. To be with them and to let them know I am listening. And to also thank them for trusting me with their words.
Because letting people in is hard. Regardless of what kind of introvert or extrovert you are. Telling someone what hurts is sometimes like being a kid when you fall off your bike, “Tell me what hurts!” and in response, usually in a barrage of tears and panic we reply, “I don’t know! Here, and here…and I think here too!”
We see the scrapes and tears, but most importantly, we just want the other person to know they are being taken care of, and that they have our attention.
I can sense instantly when a person isn’t paying attention to me. I don’t require much, but I can see your eyes wander and immediately, I disengage. Usually I don’t care, but if it’s something deep and intentional, I need you. And that’s pretty much it.
I love when you can cuss with me and allow me to wander off from the pain to talk about God knows what.
Most importantly, keep coming back.
When one feels abandoned, as I have so much this past year, there are those who have left and those who keep coming back to check in. To say hello and that they’re thinking of me. They are not giving me advice on what to do next. There is no possible way to ask that of them.
But what is meaningful to me, is that they give me a nudge from time to time and say, “Hey. Thinking about you. Let me know if you need anything.”
All of a sudden, I don’t feel so alone. Without having to say anything I realize I am being thought of, which to me, means the world.
And in that world where words and volume mean you are powerful, there is nothing more important than meeting someone on their level, and to value their place in the mess of it all.
In their world, it is dark and sometimes very lonely.
What we need from you is to climb into that hole and just be there with us.
And as we both stare into the light poking through, occasionally saying a word or two,
we are grateful to have you sitting next to us.
If only for a little while.