She sat down on the sofa, a tissue in her hand. We’ve been friends for years. The kind that don’t catch up often but when we do we go hard. Hours of truth and baring of the soul conversations. This was gonna be one of those. I could tell by her demeanor: calm, but her breathing was labored with long moments of holding her breath. She does this when what she needs to say out loud, is a truth: that is her “truth” : Something that defines her very soul.
I sat across from her on the chair… calmly I asked “what’s wrong?”. Our eyes met then immediately she diverted them away to a picture on the wall. I knew she wasn’t looking at the picture. She was deciding if she could tell me, trust me, trust herself, to say in this moment, her truth. Her eyes welled up, her breathing labored, as she tries to keep the tears I see forming in her eyes from falling.
It’s in this moment, I feel for her the most, as I realize communication is a skill she doesn’t have when she’s in pain. Something is piercing her heart right now. I feel helpless cause I don’t know what’s wrong, but I know it’s a deep, soul breaking, pain.
The silence and struggle for words seems to be forever. I say nothing as I’ve learned my purpose is to support and listen without judgement…
I know she has been making some major life impacting decisions lately -and as always she’s seemed fine. Is that what this is about? Or maybe something happened at work? The kids? I start to panic as I let my mind float away in an effort to prepare myself for what she’s about to say. Snapping myself back to reality, I realize she has spoken..
Confirming that she’s going ahead with the life changing decisions: moving to a different location: much cheaper, nicer, the process for that hasn’t been completed yet and things aren’t confirmed. She’s trusting God on this one.
She’s going to sign to get out her lease even though she’s not 100% confirmed for the future place. She’s asked for a demotion at her job, meaning less responsibility, but much less income. The job: It’s stressful and has been for sometime… she explains the reasons all valid and make sense …I listen … I don’t speak a word…she struggles in moments where the need to express herself is caught in between her throat and her eyes. This struggle is real. The eyes win, often with just a tear falling which she is quick to wipe with her tissue.
She falls silent, waiting for me to say something. I know that what she just said was surface information … but what’s creating this struggle to breath?… the struggle to pick precise words when she speaks? I press very gently “please tell me everything…”
Was that the right thing to say? I don’t know. But I get the feeling there is something much deeper that is causing this emotional out pour.
She looks away from me again. Her eyes are filled with tears. She is holding her breath and her fists are clenched. A tear falls. She is quick to clear her face of its presence. This isn’t a struggle … I realize this is a battle for her.
She speaks: her voice is muffled as she is trying to hold back tears. “I am failing my kids!” “I’ve always told them I’ll have their back and now I won’t have the money. They will have to get health insurance thru their jobs I will no longer be able to afford to carry them. I don’t want them to be mad at me … but I just can’t do this anymore… I have to change my life … the stress is too much I’m tired! I’m tired of being in charge! I don’t want to manage anything or anyone anymore”
As quickly as she spoke, she stopped. Hands still clutched, she’s still holding her breathe to control the tears, but now she is looking down. Deep seeded shame and embarrassment is all over her… you can almost see it as a garment. The way her face has changed, the way she is now sitting with her shoulders lower than before, her head down, and now the tears are coming faster than the tissue can catch… but she’s trying.
Wait! hold on a minute! Let’s break this down: “Your kids are great kids… they are all adults and making strides to move forward in their lives correct?” I ask
She smiles a glorious smile: “Yes, they are amazing kids I would give my life for them if asked, no questions asked! They are my pride and joy”.
“This insurance thing is new – coverage till 26. When we were kids it was 18 and thats it. You had to get your own coverage. Do you think your dad felt guilty when you had to get your own insurance?”
She laughs “No, he said your 18, you have to get health insurance. That was it, clear cut and dry!”
I can see the light bulb starting to come on for her, but I realize it’s still dim…
“Tell me something? I ask. Lets try something … let’s say you have a best best best friend and she came to you and was going thru what you are going thru and felt the way you feel, what would you tell her?”
For a moment, I’m not sure she heard me …then she spoke …
“I would tell her that she’s been an excellent mom! She’s done more than many. Her children had all that they needed and most of what they wanted growing up. I would tell her that she gives way more than most do in efforts at work and to her kids. Her kids are grown she doesnt have to be in charge… of course she will always be there and have their back but she needs to take care of herself and this plan of hers sounds like she’s doing just that. Her kids are smart and though they may be upset at first at having to get their own health insurance, they will be upset with change, not her. I would tell her its time to go out on faith… God brought you this far, and he’s not going to leave you now because you are putting yourself first, for a change! You deserve to take care of you… you are worth it!
The tears stopped, her face is a light, she’s smiling from a place deep with in…
My friend is being her own best friend!
This is based from a session I had with my therapist. I am the friend in need and she was the one listening.
The compassion we hold for others … give it to yourself… you deserve a friend like you❤️
Much love and God Bless