Yesterday morning was a good morning . . . that is, until I shit myself.
Most people don’t know what to say to a statement like that.
And that’s okay. I am going to tell you that sometimes there truly is nothing to say that will make anything better. And that often, in situations like that, the absolute best thing we can do is simply bear witness to or acknowledge one another’s suffering. More on this later.
Back to crapping yourself . . . doing so, particularly involuntarily, basically never becomes less disturbing. As a nurse, I have taken care of many patients who are 84 or 94 years old and who still get incredibly upset over this experience: let me tell you, it isn’t any easier to handle when you’re only 34. This phenomenon is just one of a constellation of symptoms – recently increasing in severity & frequency – that are leading my team of physicians to believe the systemic effects of my autonomic nervous system dysfunction might be even more severe than previously thought or that perhaps I am suffering with an additional, equally-serious disease. Crapping myself without even feeling it has happened 5 times (including yesterday) in the past month alone.
But yesterday morning was completely different from my usual oh-look-you-crapped-yourself-and-didn’t-even-know-it-yay-experience in that I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel scared. Or depressed over it. At all. In fact, I felt seriously ANGRY. Like beside yourself angry. Seriously, super duper angry. The emotional equivalent of siracha.
I hated my body in that moment. Hated it for not working properly whenever I least expect it. Hated it for betraying me. Humiliating me. For acting like my selfish, embarrassing drunk uncle – the one who ruined literally every Christmas I can remember. Sorry if this is over the top, but boy was I mad. And I really didn’t know what to do with all this anger.
So I chose to walk to the pharmacy, as man-flu (ugh) has hit the homestead. Boyfriend is down for the count & I was in need of supplies anyway. As I walked, hot angry tears streaked my face. I was breathing in hard angry huffs. And I am sure my sticky, wet cheeks were at least a few shades of red. But I was completely blindsided by what happened next. What struck me next was something Boyfriend’s been saying lately – that god sees our every tear.
And while I vehemently dislike most organized religion (because of how people so often can use religious words to alienate or divide people, or even hurt others), I love and trust Boyfriend. And I do connect deeply to spirituality. So the prospect that my every tear – no matter how hateful, angry, lonely, frightened, happy, or pained – is observed and valid was the only comforting thought I found myself being able to cling to in that moment.
My burning, angry tears – the ones where each drop is filled with fresh, hot resentment and deep disappointment – were okay. They weren’t morally less just because they felt like they wanted to jump off my face and punch a wall. They were valid to the situation. And every tear was seen . . . by at least me, by perhaps others (oh hey, everyone shopping at the pharmacy! just another public meltdown for yours truly.), and perhaps even by something greater than any of this. The observance of my tears simply in and of themselves was enough validation that they and the pain behind them were real. And it felt oddly comforting.
Being present. Seeing it all. Every last tear. Not judging, just observing. Witnessing. Acknowledging. Such simple, wordless acts. And my comfort in a space of anger where I doubt even the best-intentioned words would have penetrated.
The next time you encounter a person in a situation – illness, death, crisis, loss, trauma – that is just so incredibly devastating you don’t even know what to begin to say, take comfort that – in order to comfort – you don’t have to say anything at all. Just see and know that what you are seeing is real. Acknowledge. Observe . . . every last, hot tear. A moment that is as full of love as it is also empty enough to be whatever we need it to be. Offer that moment. Be one of the ones to witness the pain. That is enough. That is actually even more than enough.