I received an email last week from a dear high school friend detailing the failing health of her mother. I immediately picked up the phone and called her. My plan was to let her know she is in my thoughts and prayers + how much I love her and her family.
But as soon as I started to speak, my words turned into a hot mess of jumbled words and tears. I choked up as I realized the depth of my love for my friend, her family and the role they all played during such an important season of my life.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in myself for my ramble as I had wanted to be “strong” and a rock for her during this tough time. I felt a bit like my message was a burden and that did not sit well with me. A few days later, I wrote my friend and apologized for my hot mess of a voice mail message and more coherently articulated my sentiments.
Minutes after I fired off my apologetic email, I received a voice mail message from my friend. She was so gracious and noted how touched she was by my expression of emotion in addition to being encouraged knowing how her mom had impacted me.
(Note to self: authentic and sincerely expressed sentiments are ok. Lighten up on yourself for not being “perfect”. Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist.)
And then my friend said something so beautiful and brilliant.
“When you have things like this happen, you just want to divide the pain. When I sent the email message to those I love sharing the bad news, there is some comfort I received in dividing that pain and having others hold it with me. So, thank you.”
My friend shared more about the path that was ahead of her and her family as they seek to make her mom comfortable while her body slowly shuts down. This led my mind to race with memories of how our lives and families intersected over the years:
- time at her childhood house;
- getting ready for homecoming;
- sleep overs;
- sneaking out and skipping school during state tournament season;
- late-night swims;
- eating at their kitchen counter;
- getting in trouble at their kitchen counter;
- practicing our cheer routines;
- going to her cabin;
- flying to California for my sweet sixteen/golden birthday birthday;
- double dates;
- mean girl drama;
- jerky boy drama;
- family weddings;
- and few other memories that are best to remain private. 🙂
I love my friend’s statement about dividing our pain and am very aware of how so many people I know personally and professionally keep their pain silent within themselves, often for fear of being rejected or a ridiculed. And some do not feel like they can manage the vulnerability of being seen in their pain. Then there are those who do not have safe community they can reach out to and trust when they are struggling.
I really believe lasting healing happens when we divide the pain by giving witness to our hurts and invite others into our experience to share our load, our burden.
And for many of those I work with at Potentia, I have had the honor of giving witness to their pain, struggles, shame and fears.
The power of sharing your story, receiving support + respect instead of shame + judgements is medicine for your soul.
Let’s be honest, it is risky to be open about your heart struggles. To allow yourself to be seen – with safe and boundried people – as not strong enough, tough enough, perfect enough allows the lies of these negative beliefs to dissipate.
I really think we miss out on incredible healing opportunities when we do not divide the pain and instead put on masks telling people, “It’s all good.” or “It is meant to be.” or “It could be worse.” My friend could have minimized things but instead she leaned into her safe and loving support system.
I wonder, what are the negative beliefs that are keeping you from reaching out?
What one risk can you take today to reach out and divide the pain?
Never forget: Real+Safe relationships heal.
Having a safe and sincere relationship with God, yourself and others is crucial to managing the curve balls of life + experiencing the blessings in life to the fullest. Shame says, “stay hidden”. Truth says, “You are worthy to be seen”.
PS – Thank you Mrs. A for raising an amazing daughter who blessed my life richly and for loving me – along with the rest of the young women in your world of influence – as one of your own.