Life has been so hellishly busy I’ve barely had time to do more than watch a bit of TV before I fall asleep for an hour or two and then tend to my one year old who seems to require comfort and/or nursing every two to three hours still. Sleep is at a premium and certainly not something I get enough of, nor do I get time off, and the worst part of it all isn’t even that I haven’t gotten to much writing but rather how very alone it’s felt at times. Everywhere I look people are chattering away on facebook with some kind of ease between them. An ease that I rarely if ever feel and often feel excluded from despite these things involving people I know in real life. Truth be told I hadn’t even acknowledged to myself what space I was inhabiting when a hurt that made no rational sense to me would come up.
And then I received an email from a friend of my husband’s, now a friend of mine, discussing what it was like to be a small business owner (this friend is one) and, in my case, being the wife of one. The hours are excruciating, the pay sucks (the ultimate in ‘pay it forward’), the stress of making it work, and the recognition is varied. Except for me. The wife. It’s such a unique experience in the world of public sector or corporate employees that very few seem to understand the totality of the sacrifices involved. This very lonely and relatively unacknowledged place is where I reside and until the words “How are you holding up?” were uttered I had no idea how bereft I had been of true understanding and compassion.
It’s a simple question to be sure and for once I felt like someone gave a shit about the answer. I almost cried over my keyboard when I read it and actually did shed tears when I responded with the awareness I had previously been missing. So many conversations are had wherein a question is asked and the subsequent silence given while waiting for the expected answer seems to be only a pause in between times for the other person to talk. I think it’s fair to assert that many of us have been guilty of it, but that doesn’t negate how this short changes all of us. That genuine connection, that acknowledgment and understanding, is missing when we seek to rush through anything. And even if time is given it simply isn’t enough. Being present, being THERE, wanting to be there – to listen, is what matters.
And it’s so damn hard.
The world is riddled with distractions, more so now than ever, and that keeps energy and intent scattered about, flitting from one topic to another. Space, it seems, is a vortex teeming with many thoughts and no real capability of inhabiting an emotion or thought for any substantive length of time. It’s hard to sit and observe this and ponder if perhaps this is merely a result of my pretentiousness – that the ostracism I feel is merely a backlash for what I don’t put out, my Cassandra like presence when it comes to talking politics, or just that I fail in typical social norms of behavior. It would be dishonest of me to play a complete victim when there are certain factors I might contribute to my own loneliness and disenfranchisement.
What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt, however, is that there are three people in the last few weeks who asked me simply and genuinely how I’m holding up with the current stresses and energy draws of a growing business (and a rather reluctantly absent husband) with another in the works while I manage the homestead with limited energy that must be pushed to limitless and finances that are excruciatingly tight in an economy that is forever making things more expensive. And a world that seems to think the job of a stay at home mom should be reward in it of its self. That time away from kids and house should be unnecessary if you’re doing it right.
What this really is a failure to acknowledge the true difficulties of the situation that may be present for these individuals. No specifics should be necessary for compassion and empathy to be summoned. Being present doesn’t require money, it doesn’t require a genius level IQ. It requires heart. It requires effort. It requires the very priceless things we have to give. This, not love, is, in my opinion, what there’s just too little of in this world.
To those who embody this, those who ask with present and loving sincerity how someone is – I thank you, for all you are and all you do.
I guess it’s time to read “Miracle of Mindfulness”…