I remember nights in junior high school, lying in the hammock on the deck in my backyard with my best friend...crying over a certain young man who had broken my heart. You all fondly know him as Josh. I remember being completely honest in that moment. I felt like I was drowning, and talking with L made me feel infinitely better. She just sat with me, armed with sympathetic head tilts and hugs, and the act of her just listening relieved my pain. She didn't have to say anything, although when she did, it was always perfect. "What a jerk. I can't believe he did that to you. I'd kick his ass if I saw him again." It was more than I could have asked for.
I've been thinking about it often lately, because I've never felt more emotionally needy than I do at this moment, and I cannot make myself open up like that. I've attempted to open up, but I sit in silence. At times my mind is screaming so loudly with the need to tell someone how I feel, that I can't even make small talk anymore. I just sit there silently, holding my breath. I've written emails, honest ones, to people I love and have always trusted in the past, but I delete them. I don't understand why I can't do this. It was so easy as a child. What is the difference? Do I think I need to be strong? Or that I will be judged for how I feel? Where does this subconscious self-censoring impulse come from, when we consciously know that we need other people in our lives?
I've agonized over this for days now, days filled with silence and deleted emails. I think I am afraid. I'm not afraid to be seen as weak, I'm afraid of what someone I love will say. I know the pain of what I am going through is unavoidable, but the added wounds from well-meant words are avoidable. The beauty of those moments with L was in her ability to listen, without saying much at all. She did not try to fix how I felt or explain it to me. She did not tell me that God had a plan. She did not give me advice at all. She just listened and accepted how I felt. She knew she was helpless to change what had happened. Somewhere in our growing up, we lose that ability, the ability to listen without trying to help or to change things. But in the moments of our deepest need? All we need is a listening ear and a warm shoulder to get us through.
In those moments when someone bares their soul to you and you can't think of a thing to say to them? It is because you aren't supposed to say anything; there is nothing you can say. It is enough to simply be there, listening and loving them. That is all they need. When we grow into adulthood, we feel like there HAS to be something we can say or do to fix these things, but there isn't. If you know someone who is hurting, remember how to be 13 and helpless; because they don't need help, they just need you.
PS- I love you guys. You have been my L during these rough days.