A few weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook that got me thinking. I'll be honest, I don't know the whole story behind the post, it was a post by a friend of a friend, someone I know, but not well, and what I conjecture from the post is that she is currently out of work and was very upset that she did not get a job, a job she was one of the finalists for. Her emotions are understandable, the comment that struck me was someone trying to be supportive.. the comment was .. "oh honey, you have such potential."
I read those words and I thought what a horrible horrible comment. I am sure it was meant to be supportive and encouraging, but I read that as.. you aren't ready... you have potential to get a job.
I started thinking about the pieces of advice or words of encouragement that we give each other in those low times, often times when we don't know what to say but we want to say something positive because that is our nature and I was reminded once again that we all come from different places and with those different histories and experience we hear things different. I told myself, don't use those cliches any more, you just don't know what someone is going to hear. And that very next day I used one of them.. "it will all work out". I hit the send button on the text message and I wanted to reach through my phone and grab it back.
I started to list in my head the things we all say out of kindness, out of empathy and sympathy that actually annoy me more than help me, and I say that knowing that the person delivering the words wants nothing more than to be supportive.
* Everything happens for a reason- this one makes me want to scream. Perhaps sometime in the future this may all make sense, but right now, in my pain, my angst, and being a person who is so completely rooted in 'why', this does nothing but piss me off. My brain goes to- really everything happens for a reason? This broken heart, the miscarried child, the young Mom who died from cancer? The person who didn't live along enough to receive an organ transplant? That? Every single one of those things happened for a reason, I really want to call bull shit on that one.
* You're better off with out him/it's his loss. Now unless you are being physically, emotionally or mentally abused, at this moment that the relationship has ended and you weren't the endee- it doesn't feel anything like his/her loss.. it feels totally, utterly and 1000% my loss.
* It will all work out in the end- really? How do you know? And work out, what do you mean it will all work out? In the text message case I referenced above, people's lives will be disrupted for weeks, lots of people will be inconvenienced and the person most directly affected by the events is completely stressed about the effect on her support system. How? How will this all work out in the end?
* This is God's plan- I am sure my response to this will tick many people off, and trust me, I am very spiritual, but am not an avid church goer. I was raised Catholic and have my own issues with what goes on there and am trying to figure out just how I feel about organized religion as a whole. But back to the point at hand- I once read a brutally honest post from a women who had lost her child- I am paraphrasing tremendously here, but I think her point was, do you understand what it feels like to someone like me who prayed that my baby would not die and you say that your baby lived because of your prayers. Does that mean I didn't pray enough? That I didn't have enough people praying? I can't even begin to understand her pain, and I hope I never have to. But I do understand her words, and how it must sound to her or anyone else in her circumstance.
This post has sat idle for awhile because I felt like it wasn't quite there, it didn't really make sense, and then I had a conversation with a friend, who suggested that we should have a word in our language that means a very polite STFU (Shut the eff up), for those times when you are receiving advice, or comfort, and you just aren't ready to hear it, you don't want another condolence at the funeral, or another I'm sorry you got fired, or what have you. A quick and easy way to get your thanks and please be quiet across at the same time; "Thank you so much for your kind words. Now, unless you want to do any
more damage to me emotionally, I humbly ask that you STFU.'
It seems to me that most people, when they see someone in pain mentally, emotionally or physically, the general human trait is to help out, to try and comfort, to have empathy. And the person who is hurting, even though they may want to push the other person away, wants to be polite and thank that person for their comfort and understanding.
Just the other day I was telling my friend who came up with the idea of the polite STFU about something that had me pretty upset, and had hurt me emotionally, and he started to tell me why it would and how it was going to be okay. I just looked at him and said STFU and we both started laughing, because we knew. He knew what I needed was to just spew all this yuckiness that was making me really sad, and I knew what he needed was to make me hear that I wouldn't be sad forever, to make me feel better. And I also knew that at that moment I didn't want to be comforted I wanted to be sad, but that there would come a time when I wanted to be comforted and hear his reassuring words.
It is an interesting dance we as humans do in our interactions. I guess if nothing else, if you can have a few people in your life, who you can say STFU to, you've got some good dance partners, and maybe the time will come when we can all say- thanks for your support, but not right now and no one will be offended and everyone will understand and the polite STFU will end up in Webster's Dictionary.