We never know what another person is going through. Let’s do our best to be compassionate, kind & loving today.~ Aimee @ awakeningaimee
As I look around at so many of my friends and people I am meeting all the time, I often hear the phrase in my head “I never would have guessed, that xxxx”. The scenarios are endless, pregnancy troubles, IVF, considerations for a second child, career changes, mid-life crises, severe depression, bi-polar disorder, divorce, marital problems, affairs, sick parents, sisters, friends, special needs children and the list goes on. Most of these people are outwardly friendly, smart, educated, put-together(even though some of us routinely have vomit on our clothes like me today:)), and successful whether they are in business, work from home, stay at home parents, or are in the field of public service. When I stand in front of the same mirror and look past the vomit on my pants (I mean seriously, my dry cleaning bills will go down significantly once E starts eating real food) I often see a young awkward girl who was desperate to fit in. I was always the girl with lots of friends but that could go from being popular to bullied in a heartbeat. I was a sensitive and empathetic soul and often wise beyond my years. My parents had both been remarried multiple times between them and while they were good parents they too struggled as young parents to find their own way as people. As I often felt like I was mature yet more vulnerable I looked around me at all the “popular” girls which whom I was friends and wished I could slide into their lives, their families and their skin (not in a creepy way but just in the way that you would love to have their bangs because they sweep perfectly or their body because they looked much better in a swimsuit at those horrendous swimming parties). They were pretty and smart and well-off and I was living in government subsidized housing. My 13 year-old self was often embarrassed by this, but my 37-year-old self values it beyond words. This lack of perceived perfection turned me into who I am today and these people who I thought were so perfect for so long became my best friends in life. Once I looked past the outer package, I learned so much about each of them as people who in their own ways struggled with so many of the same things I did as a child or as an adult.
As it is reunion season and thanks to social media everytime I go to my news feed I see faces from the past and learn more about my own 20 year reunion which is coming next year. This coupled with my annual reunion trip with my best girls from childhood has put me smack back in the past and for some reason feeling mildly anxious. Not for seeing my girls, for that I could not be more excited, but perhaps just old insecurities resurfacing. I literally could not love these girls more, and I know the feeling is mutual it’s just completely bizarre how deep seeded events from childhood can lay dormant and even through they are no longer relevant they still exist. The best part is that I can safely say, I am not alone and that having these insecurities in some ways is still good for it does allow me to still self-reflect on what’s important to me now and how life does prepare you in its own way for what it will deliver you in the future.
This morning after I changed my pants for the third time based on the aforementioned issue (and I still managed to walk out of the house with vomit on my pants!), I held E in my arms and looked at her as she sat there smiling and watching Q. After focusing on him for a few minutes, her eyes would then dart to the ceiling and the right one would wander out before coming back to focus on the cup I was waiting for her to grab from my hand. Sitting on the couch in my new house, with my adorable babies (I can say this and acknowledge that I am bias:)), I thought about how the cover of my book must look to most people now and how most of it is perfectly illustrated but how quickly if you turn the page you will see some of my deepest fears. For the fear no longer rests in if I was or am pretty enough, or if the right boy will like me, or if I have enough money, it’s now about other people and how they will treat my precious baby girl. The other day, I was on the phone for business and after the call, the internal team had a regroup call. One of the people on the phone was frustrated with the response of the person we were talking to and said, “I can’t believe how retarded xxx was….”. In that moment between being dumbfounded, furious, hurt and wanting to jump through phone to scratch his eyes out, I felt sad. Sad, that people use this word so carelessly. Sad that people don’t think before they speak. Sad to know that even though this man is familiar with my situation he did not think that my daughter is considered special needs and that it did not occur to him that that word may not only offend people on the phone but go straight into their heart and make a giant tear in it. In this too I know I am not alone and in this I know my purpose for in some ways I am prepared for this moment.
First off, retarded is a word that should be banned from society as a descriptive term but beyond that, as a whole, the carelessness with which we use words and actions to describe others and tell stories or give advice should be given at least a second thought when we are delivering them. You can be angry and mad and frustrated but categorizing people, or not thinking about what you say and to whom has effects that go well beyond the cover of a book and right into the plot where people are dealing with things you can and may not ever know anything about. My personal experiences with this are many through my family with depression, my own divorce, IVF, preemies and now special needs. Empathy breeds compassion and curtails judgement and it is a beautiful thing when you find that you are not alone or that when something happens you have someone to turn to. Much camaraderie is gained simply through life experiences but we all go through things at different times and in different ways. As I have experienced so profoundly with this blog, IVF, with E & Q, which the special needs community and as with any situation, you are not alone so don’t be embarrassed by what you feel, for we are no longer 13 and simply knowing others experience the things we do brings great comfort. And lest we forget the man who helped to trigger this post, he is actually a lovely person so it’s my challenge to let this moment go and to remember I don’t know exactly what he goes through either so he may have been having a rough day himself and didn’t choose his words wisely.
My lesson for myself today is to use and practice kindness and compassion in thoughts, words and actions, and it may go a long way to help someone who you may never know you helped or to make you feel better about someone that has hurt you in their words or actions. Today, whether it’s the kind word or gesture of someone to your 13-year-old self (I told my 15-year-old picture today that my extra bronzer, big hair and denim tuxedo was not so bad, before I put the picture back in a memory box to bury in my closet), to you today, to your children, these all make a difference. Doing this yourself and remembering that what’s inside goes well beyond the cover of the book can make each day yours and someone elses’ ‘newfavoriteday’.
Thank you Aimee for the inspiring Tweet. It is truly a lovely sentiment.