Like opposing ends of a magnet being pulled towards each other, I felt drawn to her. I approached slowly, studying her face, her body, her eyes and her surroundings. She is so sad, I thought to myself. I wondered why her face was painted black and her hair cut short unlike any of the other women that I saw when I look around. I know that hurt, and I see you. I see your pain. After having a moment with this statute, I looked around to make sure no one saw my antics and marched on. A few minutes later I found myself in a room adjacent to the village and saw the woman again. Here, they told her story. This woman is morning the death of her husband. She has blackened her face and cut her hair to express her sorrow. Her period of mourning could last up to a year.
I look at her and instantly wish I could paint my face black. I study her face, her eyes, her pain once more and tell myself that a painted face would most definitely make life easier. I wouldn’t feel like such an imposter. My outside would match the inside and send a message to anyone around that says, Here is my pain. Remember. See me, sit beside me and bear witness.
In the wake of last nights blog, and my decision to each day, re-introduce myself to myself as a check in of sorts, I have decided I will capture it here and share it. Part in effort to normalize grief and the grieving process, part in an effort to let all you who are weary know that you are not alone. I see you and I share in your pain.
Those were the exact words I said to my friend today as I held her hand, our glossy eyes looking at each other with a both knowingness and a brokenness for our present situation, and also with a sense of gratitude to have someone to sit with and bear witness to our pain.
I see your pain and it’s big. I also see your courage and it’s bigger.Glennon Doyle
Because, really, that is all we want. I don’t want advice, or pity, or a strategy or game plan or a tissue. I want someone to see my pain and not try to fix it or heal it or make it better. I want them to see my tears and let them fall. I want them to have the courage to sit in silence as they bear witness. But people are uncomfortable with pain. Experiencing it personally, or watching it happen to someone else. We don’t like it. We want to run from it, escape from it, numb it, treat it, mask it, hide it, wrap in up in a box and shove it wayyyy back in the deepest, darkest part of our being. We want to coat it with something cleaner, prettier, and less messy. The pain reminds us that life is precious and fragile and yes, this can happen to anyone.
I write to you wearing the same “salty” sweatshirt I wore all day yesterday. The sun came up, a new day started, and here I am showing up in my dirty sweatshirt, with my courage, writing about my pain…again. I decided that for as long as it is helpful to me, I will do my best to start my day with truth telling. I would love to hear your truth telling as well. Feel free to share in the comments and together, we can bear witness.
Hi, I’m Christa. Today I put on clean pants and feel a tinge of hope. Today I decided that I can be in pain, and still show up. That’s courage. I can be scared and still show up. That’s brave. Even in this dark place, I can show up and bring what I have to each day and be honest with myself and others in the process. That is honesty and vulnerability. I can see your pain and stand beside you in silence. That is bearing witness. I can be angry and sad and mad and not feel like me, and yet still love the person I am. Because that person was thrown into the fire and came out the other side. And I think that deserves a celebration… and possibly a clean sweatshirt.