Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When the Words Won't Come

I don't know about you, but for me, sometimes things happen that are just too hard, shocking or painful to fully grasp. When that kind of event happens, I am taken aback, left speechless, often stunned and just can't wrap my heart or head around what has happened. Even if I try to intellectually analyze the event or the circumstances leading to it, I just can't put all the pieces together, and have to just sit with the reality that what has happened is something that at the present time, I just can't understand.

I may feel sadness. I may feel scared. I may feel numb because it is all too big. And I may feel overwhelmed, knowing this is too big for me alone, and wishing there was someone I could turn to for connection or understanding or perspective or comfort, or all of the above.

But sometimes no one is there. I am alone. Much as I would like someone to come sit by my side, there is no one who I can actually call to do that. And I have to find a way to slow myself down, take some deep breaths and try to ground myself in the moment, so that I can create the internal space to ride the waves of what is so overwhelming, and hope that with time, I will have more internal space and feel less overwhelmed.

I have found that having even one person understand what I am going through makes all the difference in the world. But, when what I am facing feels really, really hard, and perhaps involves something I have not talked about with many other people, then it is hard to find the words to express what I am going through, how I feel and what I need. What if what is happening is so big that most people I might share it with will get overwhelmed themselves, and rather than just hear me and support me? What if a trusted listener will react, distance and judge me for what I have shared? That makes things worse, not better.

So, I have to be very selective of who I might consider sharing what is so hard with. Who can actually hear me and understand what I am wishing to share without judgment or overwhelm? Who can hear me with compassion, so that maybe I can actually feel into my pain or fear or tears? There are times, where my work is to reach out to God or a higher power, praying that the person or people in my life I am concerned about will be safe and watched over by a higher power. Can I find comfort in knowing that spiritually I am never really alone, even if practically, I am? I can also find comfort in the presence of my dog or cats, who are sources of unconditional love. They can offer love and empathy even when I don't have the words.

Initially, it may be hard to find words. But then later, even if I have done the internal work to find the words, what if there are not many people who might be able to hear them? Learning how to turn to my inner strength, and deepening my capacity for riding life's unexpected and often painful waves is its own kind of personal training. And hopefully, if I work hard with what is difficult, what will follow may not be so hard. And maybe I will be fortunate enough to find a person or persons who can actually hear my heart and hold it, like a messenger sent by God to remind me I really am NOT alone.

What I really need to do is be gentle with myself when the words won't come.