Hidden in Plain Sight

You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Most people are dialed into the blatant suffering of others, because we are not callous barbarians, after all. People who are publicly suffering are easy to spot: Someone with a physical injury, a death in the family, a person going through a divorce, someone who lost their job, etc. – these are all obvious situations that we are responsive to. By asking people questions, not being self-absorbed, not listening for what you want to hear…Basically being engaged in the conversation, or relationship, for long enough to see the plain truth. Reacting would be bonus points and extra credit.

There is another category of suffering. This category is the ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ suffering. The one characteristic that sets apart this person from the standard recognizable sufferer listed above is this: It’s chronic. It doesn’t go away with time. It’s not a “season.” Telling the person it’s a season, makes the person on the outside feel more comfortable, but this can actually be inaccurate and even harmful; causing the person in pain to withdraw, become quiet, build walls, and sadly the people in pain will toss you cushions so they can help you feel good about their situation and pain. How incredibly sad is this. (Rhetorical – question mark is silly.) It numbs the sufferer to the reality, but not the pain.

The latter category is private. This type of suffering is abominable and cruel to the person in pain because there is shame attached, which keeps the sufferer quiet and withdrawn. You’d never identify the person in a million years because these often tender-hearted people are adept at smiling, making nice, and often times, they can even be the “helpers.” (See the cushion example above.)

These are some examples, although there are many more: The nurse with the eating disorder. The neighbor enduring domestic abuse. The functioning alcoholic/addict. The caregiver neglecting their own needs and self-care. The sex-trafficking victim. Your friend with the chronic auto immune disease. The pastors wife who cannot conceive, despite your positive and peppy chorus to her to “have faith.” (Making her feel worse because she must not have enough faith.) Important point to mention: This perceived lack-of-faith does not explain why the person is going through x, y, or z. Sometimes it takes a very brave person to call a time-out, a B.S., and a foul. Seriously!

Back up to the friend with the auto immune disease: This is not hypothetical – Nor are any one of the examples I’ve given in each category. I have a precious friend who lives with Lyme disease. Lyme disease is not curable. Don’t get me started on faith again…. She is living with both chronic and acute pain. She is separated from her 5 year old daughter to be hospitalized, intermittently. She is smart and educated, and has given up her career as a labor and delivery nurse because of this unfair, insidious disease. She doesn’t feel like a normal mom. Because she doesn’t get to be. She does not wear a badge announcing her Lyme disease and suffering. As a matter of fact, what she does wear is a huge, genuine, beautiful smile. She prays out-loud, on-the-spot, for any one who she sees needs it. She devotes herself to caring, healthy relationships. She loves women in her sphere of influence. She is my hero. And she is fighting silently.

Problem (aside from the obvious) is this: she shares her heart, her hurt, once (because how many times does she need to say it, for you to believe her pain)….time goes by…people see her smiling in Instagram photos, and think to themselves, “Welp, she must be fine now!” Praise the Lord.

SHE’S NOT. Enjoy the cushion she gave you.

There are people currently fighting a daily battle. But people absolve and remove themselves from the hard stuff. Because it’s hard. People are assholes. ***To everyone now worrying & fretting themselves about my salvation, because I said a bad word – get over yourself, and your legalistic religion. I can’t with you. I love Jesus Christ, I have been baptized, my life bears tasty spiritual fruit, I can quote more scripture than your aunt Ruth, and I’m going to heaven in a sugar bowl. My Daddy says so 😉 So there. (Sticking my tongue out at you also.)***

A support system for people suffering (insert 92% of the population)(non-scientific for those ostentatious & statitious-minded folks that are gonna hold my nose to the fire on this) is everything. Let me repeat. In case my parenthesis were distracting. A support system for people suffering is EVERYTHING.

This applies to you. If you are reading this, you are now accountable. Too late. I see you. If you were blessedly chosen to help someone, YOU CANNOT TAP YOURSELF OUT. That’s all kinds of lame. And pathetic. UNLESS YOU TAP SOMEONE ELSE IN, who is perhaps more helpful, more educated, or otherwise better suited and equipped to deal with hard things.

How do we help the people if we don’t know??

Here’s the thing: Some people are born sensitive to people’s hurts and hang ups. We can smell it a mile away. We don’t know specifics, we aren’t psychic, but we know somethings not copacetic. We feel it. And we are genuinely surprised and caught off guard that other people can’t. We feel all the feels. We feel all the things. It’s both a super power and a curse to be an Empath, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Because we rock. We are the helpers. We move. We hustle for other people.

If this isn’t you – Here’s what you CAN do!

Practice being present in conversations. Really listen. Stop looking over people’s shoulder when their talking. Don’t use your kids as an excuse! Meet people without your durn kids. Eventually, your excuses grow up and move out. Ouch.

Gain people’s trust by being trustworthy. Don’t gossip about the person’s pain because your just “trying to get other people to pray, too.” No, you aren’t. Be vulnerable yourself. You go first. Create an atmosphere of safety. Create an environment of give-and-take. It’s called friendship. You can. You’re not gonna die. You’re not busy. You just have creative excuses. I see you. Rise up is not just for the Atlanta Falcons! Ya, I said it. Dropped that bomb like a Boss.

And lastly, if you really care to care – FOLLOW UP with the person who’s suffering. News Flash: They are not okay because, #1) They haven’t brought “IT” up, #2) They are smiling, #3) They seem fine. Confirm, and confirm again. And then confirm some more, and repeat that until they verbally tell you that they are OUT OF THE WOODS, and you believe them. You have to believe them. Remember, the cushion? They can be throwing you that proverbial cushion to make you feel better. So, confirm. Repeat.

I am so passionate about this crap, Y’all.

Life is CRAY. If you have to put down your latte, or yoga mat (I hate you) to go over there – Do. It. If you have to throw a hat on because you look like a frumpy, homeless, hot mess – GO!!!!!!

Caring is not for the weak. But it is for all human beings. We were created and designed to authentically care. Not to put it on a resume, not to check it off our stupid To-do list, not to say “we tried” when we only did half-heartedly. Just no. No.

We are so selfish. We have been so blessed but we can’t be bothered to get dirty in someone’s life. I’m so mad about this.

We need to be willing to sit on the floor and cry with our neighbor, for as long as it takes, without worrying that our coffee’s getting cold, without looking past their eyes, until they are ready to get up. Not you. You sit there. Cry. Hold their hands in your warm hands. This is life. This is my whole life, personally. I would not ask you to do something that I would not do, or have not done.

Practice love. Over and over. Love like a wave, washing over and over. It never ends. You are never done baby. The ocean does not end. You do not end. You do not tap out until you die. From your death bed, love. I will. I promise. I will also say something funny from my death bed that you do not expect. Because I am Sarah.

 

Warmly, Sarah

 

 

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New Years state of mind

Scrolling through Instagram feeds, it becomes apparent to me that there is a recurrent theme – People are so OVER 2016. And ready for a fresh start. Admittedly, I’m also feeling this same exact sentiment. 2016 has me all, “Bye Felicia.” There were some good beginnings, to some very good relationships (personally speaking, as well as a wonderful young man for my oldest daughter), several friends who continued to inspire me and feel like home, and always, laughter. But – If I have to be honest here, I’ve also experienced a loss of translation in 2016, confusion, heart hurts, and miscommunication that has injured and in a couple instances, completely cut off relationships that I loved. I believe in grief. I do. It sucks, but you can’t short cut pain because if you try to stuff it down, it will re-appear later. Loss of self, loss of a relationship, a friendship, maybe seeing a situation with clean eyes, hurts. But grief and pain, if you let it, will build such strength of character and empathy, that it will change you, and you will change others around you, by your growth. It’s gonna be okay, Babe. I’m gonna be okay. Life is funny that way. Not “ha, ha” funny. But just, you can’t control some things that happen around you, or to you, but you CAN do a lot.

I haven’t written on my blog in a good bit, because I’ve been in such a place that I considered myself frozen. Waiting on stuff. Sometimes, other people. Sometimes, stuck in…hell. Authenticity is super important to me, and frankly, I just haven’t been in a space where writing about fashion and fluff seemed appealing to me. I didn’t feel it. So, I stopped. I’m good at real. Sometimes, too good. Y’all know I’m going somewhere with this.

People cannot change you. They can certainly mess with you. They can steal your joy. Rob you of your best, most fruitful life. But they cannot have your core, your essence. You are still you. Your mind is still intact. You are sharp as a whip! Your desires and passions, do not die. Even if frozen, Darling. You are in there. I see you.

Here’s the beautiful thing. Add good stuff to your plate. I mean, don’t worry about the stuff that you cannot take off right now. And just add good stuff to your plate this year. Go back to school, cultivate and nurture good friendships, build a strong support system, serve others in their pain (yours will still be there, but magically will dim), and for craps sake, be YOU. God, you have no idea how people will love you for this. If you are you, people will think that they can be brave too, and you will free them up to be THEM. 

I haaaaate New Years resolutions. But I like adding good stuff to my plate because it chokes out the bad. If you concentrate on adding good, you are focusing on the good, and pretty soon (NOT by accident) your plate is overflowing with good because that’s what you are mindfully creating for yourself. Dream big. Don’t stop there! Keep going. Go further with the good crap, Baby! Pass it on, like a marathon baton, and keep running.  Gooooo!!!!

That’s what I’m doin’ this year. Holla.

 

Warmly, Sarah

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Stay on the platform

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Life with kids can be a roller coaster. It’s a twisty, turn-y, fast-paced, fun, heart pounding, thrilling ride! At times, it can be a wild adventure. That’s where you come in. You, the parent, must chill. That’s right. Chill. You are not steering this thing. You are merely a chaperone, while your child lives. Living involves messiness, mistakes, moments of epic success, and plunging heartbreak. Take heart! You do play a very important role though. A vital, life-giving opportunity to allow your child to grow, while you keep your sanity. Are you in?! I thought so.

This analogy will blow your mind. If you make this small tweak in your perspective, you will be an elite parent immediately and have so much credibility with your child, it’s not even funny. Except it is. Because it takes epic amounts of self-control, but it’s funny because it’s so effective. Why haven’t we done this before?!

Here it is:

Life is happening all around you, when you’re not even looking. You are sailing through, skipping through lines, flying past problems, jumping over speed bumps with your kids because you are awesome!!! This is so easy. What’s everyone complaining about??! Terrible Two’s? Nope. Scary teenagers? What’s that?? Meltdowns? Past that – Over and done. But then all of a darn sudden your kid grows some cojones (and this is so scary because I have girls.) So, just what the actual crap. Nowwwwww…. the nitty gritty. Apparently, your child hears a loud “ALL ABOARD THE CRAZY TRAIN!!!!” in their heads, because it becomes evident to you, rather quickly, that they are about to climb into the big wooden roller coaster and let it rip. All over your house. Fun times. Here’s what you do:

DO NOT GET IN THE ROLLER COASTER WITH THEM. STAY ON THE PLATFORM. STAY. BACK.

You are Ice Cold Mother Theresa. You show no feelings. You remain on the platform, letting them ride the feelings, feel all the durn feelings. Flash them a peace out sign, you’ll see them at the exit. In the meantime, they’re really enjoying that ride, aren’t they? But you don’t laugh. God no. Bite your tongue. You are Ice Queen. Elsa has frozen you. When they are done, you may now parent. Now…you are Madea: It’s about to get real. Did they sin in their anger? Then they have a consequence now. Sass? Backtalk? Disrespect? Ohh heeeeeeck no. You rebuke that behavior and correct them. Yes Mam! You are not having any of that. Remain calm, firm, but lead them. Lead by example, Gorgeous. Are you prone to freak outs? Stop it. Your home is a soft place to fall for your people, and their people. You want your kid’s people to come over. Because you are so unfathomably awesome, that you will breathe life and love into every last one of those “littles” and “bigs” who become the purpose for your life. That, and your kid’s people are so much fun that you want to continue to pee yourself when they make you hysterical with laughter. You are a life giver, in and out of your home, not a life-suck. You can so do this.

Listen, I have been incredibly blessed with my children. My Girls make parenting mostly easy. They are so good. So amazing, these Girls of mine. It’s ridiculous. But I have done this Stay on the Platform thing for many moons now. I know stuff. I have street cred. I am old. Trail and error. Praying. Seeking wisdom from older moms, who’ve been there.  < These were my steps. If you see a woman with older kids, whom you admire, take notes. Ask questions. There is no pride in parenting. If you are prideful, you lose. Your kids lose, more importantly. And that’s just sad okay? But you’re gonna win here. Your kids are gonna be all kinds of okay, and leap over okay, and into STELLAR SPARKLING AMAZING MODE!! People gonna be jelly of your new skills 😉

Stay on the platform.

Peace out.

 

Warmly, Sarah

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