Thursday, January 03, 2008

something more than fear

I recently met with someone who hides their pain by the tactic of never trusting anyone. Believing that all good things end, will eventually cause them pain and loss and abandonment, they choose to not let anybody know what they really feel inside.

Sitting with the second individual not long ago, I offered up the observation that their approach never let them test out who was potentially trustworthy and who was not. And they looked at me with this haunting gaze, staring at me silently for what seemed like an eternity, as if they possessed some eternal truth that transcends language.

In my mind, I wondered if she was screaming, "don't you get it? This will end. You won't be here for me. Nobody will. I'll be lost and alone and hurting. Again."

But in response to her silence, all I had to offer was my presence...and my inner prayer that somehow in sitting with me, she could begin to experience some measure of stability, of healthy beginnings and endings, and choices about relationship based on something more than fear.


more cows than people said...


Gannet Girl said...

I'm not sure that those (of us) who have survived terrible loss ever experience painless or even marginally healthy endings. We just learn to tolerate them so that we can go forward.

steve said...

gannet girl,

Please say more. Why do you think that is (that people who have survived horrible loss "...just learn to tolerate them....")? What makes endings harder? Less difficult? What would a healthy ending mean?

Gannet Girl said...

I don't necessarily mean that they are hard"er" -- harder than what?

I think that for me virtually any ending of significance feels catastrophic -- and the feeling is simply a reality that has no rational explanation. The emotional explanation -- in my case childhood loss of a parent and sibling, followed by some other stunning losses in other forms in adulthood -- is easy to see, but so is the fact that the endings that occur in a normal and productive adult life are not the same thing. The experience, however, remains quite similar in nature.

Now that I think of it, "healthy" in this context strikes me as something of a judgmental word. We all experience things however it is we experience them. The important thing is to build on the bad ones and to accept that they while they are part of your history and affect your responses to other situations, you're not required to wallow in them but in fact can put them to good use one way or another.

The most obvious example for me would be that the constant spectre of loss (usually) creates a concomitant capacity for appreciation of the present.

Wyldth1ng said...

You are a smart man.

Diane said...

I liked what gannet girl says about the appreciation of the present. so few of us really have that, haunted by the past and the future as we are. and I think that even those of us who trust more, don't trust completely... we always hold something back, whether a little or a lot.