I rarely feel the sting of tears in my eyes these days. It’s not for lack of pain, not the physical kind anyway. I’ve become accustomed to aching although it wears me down at times, to the point of wishing I could wobble out into the street and scream at the top of my lungs in frustration and anger. Would anyone hear me? Would anyone care? People like to feel sorry for someone in distress so I’d probably get some tea and sympathy until it all blows over and the neighbors go back to their TV shows. Or maybe some guy would yell at me to shut up. You never know. It doesn’t make much difference in the long run. I would end up dealing with my dragon, my pain, behind closed doors.
From a young age, we were taught to keep our hurts to ourselves and to stop crying so as not to bother other people. This is especially true for boys who had to be strong. Girls were taught not to be crybabies. In many societies, crying is seen as something shameful to be avoided at all cost. That is very likely why most of us are reluctant to open up and be honest about our pain and sorrow with our friends and family. We have been conditioned to fear judgment. And, we have been conditioned to judge. It’s a cultural manifestation of our difficulty and often our inability to make authentic connections with other humans.
This disconnect begins in the home and spreads into our communities, governments and nations. Humanity has never been more isolated as earth’s population reaches critical mass. In the modern world, the days of close community are slowly disappearing. One exception is the virtual kind of companionship and compassion one may find online among fellow sufferers and survivors of similar struggles and trauma. However, one real, authentic human connection is a treasure beyond measure. To hold the gaze of another human, to see who they are and listen to them without judging is an experience we too often deny ourselves. We need to be heard and yet we hold on to the fear of being a burden and of being judged. Why can we not just be still? And listen? Maybe if we listened to one another, we could remain open to possibilities and access a whole new level of communication capable of healing old wounds or forging new, more fulfilling relationships.
The tears are silent in private online support groups but we hear them every day. I am often moved when someone is afraid to “waste” people’s time with their problems, something they’ve learned to avoid in the outside world. That’s when group members rally with supportive responses, love and advice; with reassurance that this person is in a safe place, that they can go ahead and rant all they want, complain at will! Group members will chime in with their own stories that validate a person’s fears or sorrow and surround them in an enormous, soft hug. Then, you can almost hear a collective sigh; another broken heart has felt heard and loved.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take the plunge, share thoughts, ask questions, listen and experience a real connection face to face?
Although chronic pain never sets us aside for a single moment, those managing it will tell you that a sense of humor goes a long way to make life worth living. Any excuse for a laugh is welcome and we are more than willing to share a giggle with any human who crosses our path. But just like crying, laughing for no good reason is frowned upon in the outside world, so we tend to keep our silliness among ourselves. And what a joy it is to see someone set aside their pain for a few moments long enough to share a silly cat video or a picture of their pet in a funny situation, or a joke or a story. Laughing is so very healing and needs to be done several times a day to keep us in good spirits.
Wouldn’t it be fun if we could feel free to laugh out loud with friends and family, to look at them with smiling eyes that show them that we are open to engage in silliness?
Whatever situation we encounter, when we are in the company of another person and make gentle eye contact with them, sans agenda, simply embracing openness, we give them and our self an opportunity to engage in sharing not only ideas but also a little bit of who we are under the surface.
See you on the path of healing and beyond,