sometimes, it’s not even about the crisis

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My friend shared a story. She’s an emotional person, empathetic, thinks with her heart. Also happens to be a hard skills, no nonsense, get the job done career woman. But– she has a soft spot within a relatively hard exterior, I think. Like a caramel M&M.

She just pulled over, in her car, today. And she cried. She didn’t even know why (well, she did, but not the precise reason).  I wonder, though.  Because she has different problems than mine, but she has problems, too.  

Because, you see, I did the exact same thing.  I don’t need to get into the details, but I remember I was driving and listening to Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time.”  And the tears started pouring down my face.  I had to pull over, because I couldn’t see.  I cry, yes, but I rarely cry that hard.  I couldn’t stop it, didn’t want to stop.  I kept listening to “It’s Time” over and over again.

I wonder if our thoughts were the same.  I had felt alienated, strange. I know she feels alone, unwanted. I didn’t want to admit it. I was in a good place, living in this amazing place with a job you might easily dream of.  She, is, too.  She isn’t worried about supplies or dying from this new virus that’s sweeping the world. Even her hometown (and probably mine, soon.)

But I sat in my car and the tears flowed into my lap.  I didn’t want to think about why I was crying, I only wanted to let the tears flow.  

Years apart, we both acted on the same impulse.  We took the same action.  I don’t know what went through her mind, but…I do wonder.  Odd how life works.

I think about how this affects us, not physically, but emotionally.

When life is tough, sometimes our cups simply overflow.  Not in a good way, either.  All the frustrations, fear, anger.  We think it must be because of all the people dying. Trapped in their homes. Cut off from their families. But you also wonder, “Why should I feel bad? I’m whole, I’m safe, I’m healthy. The world is hurting, but I am not. Why am I crying? Why do I feel bad?”

Except it turns out it’s not about that. You aren’t upset by the crisis.  You’re simply…upset.  And the added pressures of the crisis is too much for you right then. 

Maybe it’s about the fact you are lonely. You don’t feel worth much. Something else happened to you. You’ve been patiently waiting out a hard time. Whatever it might be.

No, you are not at risk for what you think you ought to be at risk for. You are managing life fine, but you are hurting because something else has been hurting you for a long while.  And now you’ve got the hurt of many on your mind.  You feel for them. And perhaps you are not in the most wonderful, stable place at the moment.  Normally you could handle this, no problem you’re perfectly willing to help, but right now you just can’t.

Be kind to people through this craziness.

Always be kind, of course. But, perhaps now, be a little more so. It costs very little. A few extra moments of your time. A thoughtfully crafted message.

Please don’t ignore the friend that has it all together. Somehow, nobody ever asks them, “Are you okay?” Because of course they are. Because that’s the person who pulls over to the side of the road and cries alone.

Right now, with the problems of the world, it can feel like a very sad, weighted blanket that cannot be shrugged off. And it’s not limited to a few of us, it’s all of us, feeling that collective worry and strain as a whole.

Please be a little extra patient with folk. Maybe they saw a post that pushed them a little more than they expected. Heard a tough news story. Experienced -another- small disappointment. And every little thing can push them closer to the edge. Your act of unkindness might be just what pushes them over.

Don’t be the reason someone cries today, please.

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