Day 97: The other day it felt as if the world was deliberately inundating me with Qs. Every license plate in traffic was QQQ-something, There were an unusual number of Qs on my Alpha Bear board. My son complained because he ran out of Q-tips. It was bizarre. Then the same thing started happening with information about authenticity, truth, and compassion.
Over the weekend I met a woman who was bright, funny, artistic and recovering from cancer. We hit it off and had instant stories to tell one another and ideas to share. I was able to give her ideas about some things she could do to help herself heal, tools that I had used–visualization, battle statements, paying attention about expending energy. She seemed eager to do anything that would take her forward and shared some like information with me. And I could not remember her name. I struggled with it for days. Her name is a bit unusual and when I was reminded of it yesterday, there was a sharp tug on my heart and memory. About 10 years ago I called to a close an important friendship with a person by the very same name. This person was bright, funny, artistic, and suffering from a debilitating condition. I pulled every tool from my toolbox and offered to help her learn to use them and pull herself from the place she was in. I tried doing things for her, asking, and stupidly, tried to fix issues for her. It was a hard lesson. Nobody can fix anybody. We cannot love someone well or bully someone into a happier place in life. Love and friendship do not conquer all. We have to want to fix our own stuff. Someone else may lend us tools or a map, but it’s up to us to put one foot in front of the other on the road to Change.
One of the things Jean Shinoda Bolen writes about in Crones Don’t Whine is the difficulty of balancing truth and compassion. I don’t know if I balanced those two thing well when I parted ways with this friend. I do know that my word for the year afterward was Compassion and I spent a lot of time developing a better grasp on that. After writing here last night, I continued my slow read of Crones Don’t Whine and read the following: Are you polite or cowardly? Women are inclined to withhold truth from those emotionally most important to them and in doing so nurture and sustain their weakness. (Well, ouch.) To not want to embarrass a friend and withhold the truth does not serve her; friends tell one another the truth. Whoever described truth as a double edged sword had a limited imagination. Truth has as many facets and perspectives as any gem. Have you ever noticed that gems are always presented on velvet? We touch the soft surface before the hard stone at the center.
This is the second hard lesson. We must address our own truths before we can address them with others. It requires the courage to ask yourself if you are enabling weakness in someone else with your good intentions. It can require hard questions like ‘Do I hold on to this person or relationship as a means to an end in my own life?’ It is not very lovely to consider how disrespectful it is to hold someone back for our own comfort. The thing to remember is that whether you are facing an unpleasant moment parting with someone else or facing the unpleasant truth in the mirror, both situations require compassion.