â€œThe worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.â€ Â â€• Mark Twain
Yesterday, by simply listening, I made a friend cry. It certainly was not my objective, and yet the tears may start the ripple that washes away her years of self-doubt. I fervently hope that is the case.
My friend is a marvelous woman. I never fail to smile when Iâ€™m in her presence, and trust her advice when given. She is a healer, and a life-long learner who has amassed files upon thick-yellowed files of studies relating to health through various methodologies. I think of her as a wise-woman, a soul born to give compassion and empathy.
Her outward beauty remains luminous as she explores her sixth decade. Long dark hair frames an emotive face, and her eyes are bright with curiosity.
She is the type of person who delivers more than asked of her, and carries the load of others without complaint. I never knew, never guessed, she was also deeply wounded. Therefore it took me by surprise when she allowed me to see beyond the day-to-day facade, but I was honored by her trust.
At first all was routine. We sat enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, chatting about this and that, nibbling our way around gentle topics. At first I thought I was mistaking her watery eyes for an oncoming sneeze or the reaction to a hot pepper, but no, there was somethingâ€¦ more. I invited her to share with my silence, and she RSVPâ€™d quickly.
Like me, she is the product of an unhappy mother. My friendâ€™s early years were filled with a soundtrack of blame, emotional withdrawal, and esteem-bashing words. The damage to her identity remains, although she has tried desperately to caulk the cracks with behaviors that do not serve her. What she presents today is a mosaic of calm and strength to the world, but what she feels are those tiny, jagged, disjointed shards.
Listening to her story made me mourn for all the damaged little girls walking around in adult bodies. We live in a culture that implies women are beings who need to correct their faults before love will arrive. It seems particularly cruel to have our mothers deliver that message long before we have a chance to know better. No wonder the pain sometimes seeps from us in the most quiet moments.
My friend cried for all the yesterdays she was denied loveâ€¦by her mother, by her male companions, and from the woman in the mirror. She cried because sheâ€™s afraid itâ€™s too late, and she cried because a seed of hope survives…aching to grow into love given and received.
We sat together, poking at the fires of our truth. Fires that even tears cannot extinguish.