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Saturday, April 4, 2015

What it actually means to be loving



Last Saturday, sitting in an empty restaurant with a bad internet connection, I got off Skype with a client, getting ready to do what I had to do next.
I sat with my head in my hands for a moment, feeling guilty about the thoughts and emotions inside of me, before I wrote this Facebook post.
I thought about deleting it. I thought about just leaving it in my personal files and never letting it see the light of day, because, after all, the restaurant is in Costa Rica, the Skype session had gone well, and these emotions—well, they just seemed a little too selfish.
A voice in my head said, “Maybe people will think you’re not as loving as you pretend to be.”
That was my cue. That’s the voice of my inner perfectionist. Now, I had to share.
My fingers trembled as I pressed “Publish.” And I’m so glad I did. Since I shared it, this post went wild on my Facebook author page and in my private community.
I think we all feel what I felt that day, especially those of us who provide support to people—even when we do it by choice, even when it’s our work, and even when we love it. We try our best to give and give. We try our best to be kind. And still, we are only human.
I think this is something we all need to hear.
Confession:

Every Saturday, after I have a session with a beloved client, I call my grandfather. He lives alone.
My family is very broken apart and, through a series of terrible events, he’s wound up alone, not only physically, but emotionally. He does get food and all provided for him, but everyone dislikes him, and he only perpetuates that cycle by putting up this jagged personality to them.
They say he started it. He says something different.


To me, he’s a different person. No one sees him like this. Have you ever had a kid or a dog that just lights up when they see your face? Well, that’s how he is to me. His voice just changes when he hears mine. He sounds like a man who’s just won the lottery. His joy when he hears it’s me on the other end is like the joy of a child.

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Then, he tells me the same stories over. I think he’s got some brain damage from a previous stroke, because he retells things and he lies a lot.

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I guess my confession is—I don’t always want to call. And, when I don’t, I feel guilty. I feel like I should want to call, want to be there for him, want to be, as he says, “his only joy in the world.” I’m trying to get everyone else in the family to see him in a different light, to invite him over, to be kinder, but it’s slow—grueling.
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Seems like everyone’s got something else to worry about.

But, right now, I’m going to call. And I’m going to spend that hour. Because, sometimes, love is hard. Sometimes, love isn’t exciting. With my client, I get so excited, because she grows every time, and then I take that excitement to my grandfather, and it withers as we speak, because it’s all the same. And then, I have to forgive myself for this loss of enthusiasm and release my guilt over it. I’m just a human being. I am not a martyr. I am just a human being trying to do the right thing.
Not just with my grandfather, but this work in general, sometimes supporting people is really hard.
Sometimes, I’m going through my own things and I don’t share them and it builds up and I feel guilty for it building up.
Other times, I’m a self-care superstar. Sometimes, I am not.

At the end of the day, I’m just learning this as I go, just like you are. And I hope that, if my confession has any value to you, it’s to say that it’s okay—it’s okay to be where you are.

I’ve learned that, no matter how far you get, new challenges arise. New ways of being thrown into self-judgment and guilt and shame will always be around.


What matters is how we respond. What matters is our choice to love. And, honestly, I’m starting to think that doing it when it’s hard is what makes us into better people.
Because, anyone can love when it’s easy. But it takes work to love others when it’s hard and love ourselves through not being the perfect caretaker.
It’s not easy, but it is worth it. And so is being honest about how human I really am.
I hope you will do the same

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Link to the article on elephantjournal: