How in the midst of darkness, can we find comfort? How in the midst of darkness, can we touch base with the light? Sometimes when we are in the depths of despair that light can be so very, very hard to find, most especially if we have been traumatised and gone through the very real and common experience of being ignored, sidelined or misunderstood, or found ourselves repeatedly a victim of the shallow, insensitive comment.
Last weekend I was asked to attend a lunch with an old family friend. I was little wary because in the past she has never really shown much sensitivity to me. At the lunch three times she told me how tired I was looking (well yes, I have just been through five weeks of radiotherapy for breast cancer) and how if I didn’t put on some weight soon, I would get really sick. I sat there and took it, when I left I cried a lot of the way home.
When I got home I rang my therapist and cried and shared with her. I found some things I love to do, I made a nice dinner, I watched something I like on television and went to bed early.
Yesterday as I was about to leave with Jasper for the dog park the phone rang, it was the family friend ringing to apologise. “I am really sorry for what I said to you on Saturday”, she said to me. “I realise it was pretty insensitive, you have gone through so much and I was not aware that you had so little support. If there is any way I can be there for you please let me know.” We had a long chat about things and I was able to share with her honestly how I felt, no blame.
Receiving this call made me reflect. Do we think much about how our comments impact on others going through a hard time? When someone is going through something really dark, it is important to empathise, but does it really help to add to the darkness with a darker comment? Wouldn’t there be more light if we found the way to show love within that moment and give comfort?
Its not just an external issue, its a deeply internal one too. When we are feeling low, sad or down do we add to that sadness by heaping on ourselves more criticism or blame, or do we find a way back to love, to giving to ourselves a helpful or nourishing comment, adding something that will nurture and soothe, rather than tear, hurt, wound and damage ourselves more? Can we reach deeply enough to find the love and compassion that will soother and heal?
On Saturday I didn’t really take my friends comments too much to heart, although they did make me sad. I was able to speak positively to myself, and know that in time with the right nurture the tiring impact of the last weeks of treatment will subside if I take care of myself. I was able to reach out to someone who could validate how that had made me feel. On Saturday I realised that I needed to look where the love was in order to find the necessary soothing and comfort.
We have a choice in any situation to look for the love, if it isn’t coming to us from others we can still find it from deep within. We can support, care for and nurture ourselves, even when others cannot or will not. There is always a source of love we can turn to within ourselves.
We can also make the choice of surrounding ourselves with others who can be a positive force in our lives. I am not saying we should avoid those who honestly confront us, but we should be discriminating, most especially after we have gone through an ordeal, have been traumatised and are healing with those we surround ourselves and with what we do and do not take on board.