Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guilt is not sympathy.

Earlier this year, I got a request from violence unsilenced to do a post for their survivors video. I didn't respond. For several reasons. One of them is that I don't want my face on the video. Yes, there were more anonymous options I could have pursued. But, I didn't. I also just still feel like I don't "belong" to that community. I am fine. I don't have flashbacks or any real residual problems. Yes, I hate being touched. Yes, I have issues with intimacy and trust. But, not TERRIBLE issues. I function. I feel fine almost all of the time. I told my story because it felt like the right thing for me to do to move on. And it was. I told the story because I wanted 16 year old me to read it and say, fuck. That wasn't right. And to do something about it. I didn't really do it for 30 year old me.

I don't comment on the site. Ever. Because I feel like "I am so glad you posted here, you are so brave and loved" is just contrite. Of course those women (and men) are all of those things. And I never know the right thing to say.

As I was reading today's post, I was texting with Big Jed. I was reading it thinking about loss and tragedy and how I really have not had a whole lot of either in my life. Yes, there are those years, those incidents, those times that happened to me, but I don't know what loss is. I have never lost anyone I truly, truly loved. Big Jed's babies are the closest I can come and they were just an idea. My heart was broken more for her than for them, if that makes sense. I didn't know them like she did. I only knew the image of them in my head, the idea of them, their story that was unfolding. Kobi was the biggest lost I have ever faced personally.

So, I read these stories thinking these things week after week.

Big Jed and I talk almost everyday. We haven't talked for a week or so because she was out of town and my job hates me. Well, loves me. Either way, it was a 65 hour problem last week.

During our texting she brings up that a coworker and friend of her and Krackle's died last week. Then she tells me that this woman was 7 1/2 months pregnant and that the baby was lost too.

I don't know this woman, I am not telling her story or the story of her death, although I am not sure a greater tragedy could befall someone. 

I find myself once again, with my best friends in the whole world, stuck in this awkward state of sympathy. All I want, all I ever want in these situations, is to make it better. To fix it. To make them laugh like in the movies where they forget all their troubles.

And I can't. I know I can't. But, I am not good at sympathy. I say all the wrong things. I awkwardly pat people on the shoulder. I say, "you are in my thoughts" because saying you are in my prayers would be a lie. And it feels wrong to lie to someone at a time like this. I hug and I listen and I show up with food, because I do food. I can do food. 

But, it all feels contrite. It always has. It's not that I don't care. Because I do. I care so much. To see someone I love in pain is heart breaking. But, the bottom line is...I don't understand. I just don't. I don't know what that feels like. I feel guilty, so I say these things. I feel guilty that they feel this way and I don't.

I realize that none of these moments are about me. And please do not think I am making them about me. And believe me when I tell you, I am so grateful that I don't understand because it means I have never lost anyone that means THAT much to me.

I just always want to say to people, no bullshit, how do I help? I have no kind words for you. I suck at those. I am better at action. I will cook for you, clean your house, wash your hair, hold your hand, drive you anywhere you want to go. I will BE THERE. But, I will say all the wrong things. Because the right things are fake coming out of my mouth. Not because I don't mean them. Because they are just not me...just not things I would say. 

I will make dead asian baby jokes at the funeral home. It's just who I am. I am the girl to bring in when you want to laugh in spite of it. I am the girl you bring in when you can't cry and you need to drink and watch terrible reality TV and judge everyone. I am not the girl you bring in when you want sympathy. Not because I don't genuinely feel bad. Not because I don't want to understand. I just don't. And I really, really hate contrite.

And that makes me feel like a horrible person.


zeghsy grrl said...

All of that is exactly why you're not horrible. I always feel like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. "Social convention requires me to offer you a hot beverage in your time of need. Would you like a hot beverage?"

Ann said...

Things like this are WHY I love you so much, though. I know that if something horrible did happen that the words or actions you offered would be 100% genuinely you. I would much rather see that than the contrite and generally bullshit responses that so many give in times of grief. The reason you DON'T suck is because you ARE genuine, and anyone who is lucky enough to call you friend knows just how far you would go for them (aka, to the ends of the earth, if asked).

Seriously. We are LUCKY to have you as a friend. There is no reason for you to feel guilty.

J o s e y said...

"I hug and I listen and I show up with food, because I do food. I can do food." - that is not contrite at all!! That is NEEDED. Actions of help are NEEDED. It's way better than a b.s. comment and no help. You're a good person and a good friend, obviously!

Krackle said...

**hugs** You do great at comfort, you just don't know it.

Big Jed said...

Oh, my dearest Erratic.... I am so behind on my blog reading.

The beauty of what you say and do is that it is you. I made it through the day at the funeral home and remember laughing at the fucking dead asian baby joke. It was the most inappropriate thing anyone has ever said and I almost peed my pants. That is your beauty. That is why I love you. That is your comfort. As fucking crazy as it is. I love your crazy.

I hope that it's a very long time before you know loss. But it happens to all of us. And when it does, I will be there to make an inappropriate comment or joke.

I love you.