by Laura Lynch, LCSW, Life Coach
First, I want to express my appreciation to be a part of this writing community. I love reading the thoughts of others. In fact, I love reading so much I sometimes find it hard to justify (excuse?) to write. I mean why write when I can enjoy the work of others?
Second, when I recently started this blog I came up with a personal deadline of every Monday(ish) and I have been pleased that until this week I was able to keep this goal, or at least do one blog a week. However, I have multiple “jobs” and for whatever reason it was a busy week all the way into Saturday.
Third, I also struggled with how I was going to explain something I realized this week. I am a private person who listens and helps others in their most vulnerable and sometimes most desperate times, and the role of trust is so important. But I don’t often let my guard down with other people. Does this mean I lack trust, or am I being prudently cautious? I worry about being exposed. But without trust and vulnerability, where is forgiveness?
I realized (although I really knew this before) that while I value honesty (and am almost amazed at people who say whatever is on their minds, unfiltered) I have an underlying, distrust of others who want to pay me a compliment. Well maybe not distrust per se, but a feeling of hesitation and doubt. Perhaps a tinge of left-over “low self esteem” mixed in there too. I am not cynical, nor bitter, or vengeful. But like many of my clients, and fellow readers and writers, and heck humans and animals, I have been hurt, and in fact have lingering effects of traumas and betrayals that put me on guard. Perhaps I also have been perhaps bred to the bones bent to be stoical-suck it up-don’t complain-and most of all don’t make it about me. Which also creates some internal tension as a blogger. I mean, is confession always good for the soul? What is the line between reflection and self indulgent blather?
I have been witness this week to people in urgent crisis and it is hard sometimes to not get caught up in their pain. I am humbled to be a witness and to have their trust, so quickly given. While they are asking why and how, I admit I ask the same thing. Life is so often a struggle. (Way to state the obvious, but it is true). My work in the ER is unpredictable and I often don’t know the final result.Things can easily go south. [Although I was taken aback when one of the ER doctors I work with asked if I ever sold cars (?!). He meant that I am good at persuading people. It is not easy to trust a stranger in the middle of a crisis, but when you are desperate, you sometimes have to grab the closest life-line.
I had a life changing trauma at the age of 17 which, leading to other traumatic things, led to another life course. I am not one for spending a lot of time ruminating about the past, but it is important to understand oneself if you want to help others, and especially if you are a writer. On the other hand, I have a sense of gratitude, because this different course also led to many interesting things and changes. (A person can go nuts considering all the things that could have happened. You can even play this game thinking about your parents, and so on). Anyway, the real point is that the betrayal when I was 17 was paved partly by the giving of compliments. In short, while I value kindness, I don’t necessarily trust “niceness”. [Sadly, the person involved , only 24, committed suicide not too much later]. I have been able to move on, and understand that traumas and betrayals do not have to define us, but they do leave marks on us. I realize that all of this has been expounded on by many people in many writings and teaching, but this is my take on it.
Part of my self reflection and awareness is trying to understand if my natural reticence is part of my life long tendency for introversion, or if it’s partly rooted in earlier hurts. Being a private person has many advantages in my profession, and in this age of instant connection. But I must not let fear overcome my reticence and tendency to keep to my own counsel. I do feel like my reticence seems closely tied to my resiliency. I may never figure this out.
We are such a mix of strength and weakness. We take our individual pathways, but also need each other. I absolutely should be practicing what I preach. So I will keep practicing. I am always telling people we cannot do it alone. Let me humbly accept others into my life, and if I need a life-line, reach for it, without fear, with gratitude and forgiveness. It is important to show that we value others enough to trust them. That trust should be a two way street. I did forgive him the day he came to see me to apologise, before he took his own life. He had showed me his own vulnerability. Perhaps I did not forgive myself.