A simple question often asked, a nicety, exchanged as a way to kill the silence, friends who know me will know my motto of don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer to……
As I waited for coffee this afternoon, I exchanged this pleasantry with a young woman as she made my coffees. I talked about the coldness of the weather and how sometimes it was nice to be at work out of the cold. She said her day was ok but she had seen something she never wanted to see again in her life. Boom an explosive, unexpected answer that left me speechless, (oh alright I know that is hardly likely, ) I drew breath and went in. In my head I wanted to say what did you see but I know better. I have no idea of what she saw it could have been anything but it was clearly traumatic.
We have an obsession with the macabre the horrible, the unspeakable, it is presented to us as entertainment, with the internet you can see any manner of things, from executions, dog fights, vehicle crashes, and far worse in the black world of the really nasty stuff, snuff videos, rape, its all there in its disgusting fullness. I have experienced some horrible things, heard horrible things, read case files of unspeakable cruelty, photos of children’s beatings, heard it from their mouths. Some days I just have to turn the nes off, not read the papers, I just don’t need to hear it. Not that I want to deny its existence but it can trigger old memories and I can become so angry that I want to hurt perpetrators,just not a place I can go, post traumatic stress they say.
So as this beautiful young woman shred that she had had this experience, I didn’t ask her hat it was I said, I don’t know what you have seen but I know and have seen things that are unspeakable, I asked her if she had someone to talk to that would just listen, I wanted to ask her if they would listen and hold her but I didn’t want to come cross as some creepy old guy. You see there are some things that cannot be fixed and sometimes you just need to tell someone, hear them say can I do anything for you and to know that they will hold you and love you.
She said she thought she had someone to talk to, I gave her my card and said if she didn’t I could find her someone. If she had asked me to listen said I need to tell someone I would have, it is the only human thing that i could have done. there are people who do this every day and somehow manage to maintain their integrity and compassion and do it day after day. It is extremely difficult to do so but it is a rare gift that is a blessing and a curse. I hope that I made some impact for this young woman. I told her that I had experienced such things, I didn’t tell her that sometimes these things are triggered in my head, that they are sometimes indelible, I told her it is ok to be sad, to be affected and above all else it is ok to reach out and ask for help.
I am not a hero, no super human being, I just know that the dy I cannot offer those words is a day that I become an oxygen thief on this earth, I pray that I never become a bitter hater in this world, a surly grumpy old bugger. I don’t believe that will ever happen because I have people who love me and care for me enough to tell me the truth and to challenge me and speak into my life. Some of these are old friends and family some are new. You know who you are and I want to express my deep love and affection to all of you.
In closing I just want to say to be prepared for people to be honest when you ask how they are and to know that you don’t have to solve anything that sometimes it is enough to just hear,acknowledge, and encourage,