Thursday, March 03, 2011
The Illusion of Confusion
You know the scenario. A loved one is struggling and comes to you to talk. You catch a glimpse of a vulnerable heart and your own heart surges forth to meet theirs. All you want to do is help. It's stressful.
At least it is when this happens to me. My chest tightens. I want so much to provide a thread of hope, nuggets of wisdom, and black and white crystal clarity. I strive to confidently and capably save the day.
More often than not, however, as I hone in on the issue at hand, the person I am attempting to rescue recedes into themselves, wrapping that vulnerable heart in layers of their usual coping facade, obscuring the kernel of their pain. Even when they tell me my advice is spot on, or the information and resources I am providing are useful, somehow I rarely feel I've given them what they need most of all.
On the flip side, when I am the one asking for support, I am often frustrated by well-meaning attempts to help. I feel compassion for my well meaning would-be helpers. I don't know what I want from them either.
Recently, I have been sharing my worries about not having a port catheter, a surgically implanted device that makes the infusion of chemotherapy an easier task. There are risks to getting a port, including serious infection, and two surgeries to endure: one to put it in, one to take it out. Though my doctor has been adamant that I shouldn't have one unless it's needed, I have wondered if ultimately I will regret not pushing for it. When I admit my worries about painful failed needle sticks almost everyone tells me, "Get the port." And here's where the frustration hits.
I recorded a vlog about it. It's kind of raw. I didn't think I'd post it. But in the process of making this video I unwrapped my own vulnerable heart, found the kernel of my own pain, and came to a conclusion that feels right for me. And in so doing, I was reminded that, given the opportunity to explore our own minds and hearts, we find our own threads of hope, nuggets of wisdom, and black and white crystal clarity. We'll expose and melt the offending fear or shame or grief and our own clear thinking will be restored.
And so, a new resolution: In the future, when someone approaches me for support and I feel that familiar tightening in my chest, I plan to take a few deep breaths, relax my neck and shoulders, and remind myself not to buy into the illusion of confusion. I will make it my primary objective simply to listen, to trust and validate the mind of my struggling loved one. Because ultimately, we are all uniquely qualified to solve our own problems.
But it helps to have cheerleaders.
And I will cheer with all my heart.