An email arrives, and unthinkingly, automatically even, I open it. Open it, and read it, and feel a wound split open within me, spilling out the rubbish from 2012, disciplinary meetings, exclusion, rejection. Rejection repeated. And, it hurt. Really hurt. I folded in two and cried. I went from calm, composed, in control, to that, in an instant. Like that email flicked a switch, and all was suddenly bad. Bad, and I was angry, imagining the replies I would like to send, what I would like to say in retaliation to an oh, so polite, but oh, so loaded email message. I can be spitefully “polite”, too.
I didn’t reply. I left the office, in tears, and walked to a lunch meeting. And instead of saying, “yes, fine”, in response to how was your morning, I said “crap” and explained. And support was offered, and I could breathe again.
And there have been so many other times, like that, when I’ve gone to someone, close to tears, and they have given comfort. There have been people who have had late-night ‘phone calls with me, who have drunk tea with me, prayed with me, In Locus Christi, and who have gotten me help when I’ve needed it. I have been blessed with so much kindness. God isn’t just there for me in strangers, but in those who know me.
And this kindness is real. It is so easy to dismiss. To say, well, of course you got help from them, you asked for it. Or – prayer was their duty, it’s their responsibility to care. Or, they don’t really like being with you, they just feel they have to be.
But they don’t have to be. They don’t have to send postcards, or meet that often – not if they don’t want to. They could avoid meeting up altogether. Why bother telling me about lunch at all? Could have happened with out me.
My office walls are decorated with things that have been sent or given to me voluntarily.
People do care. That is so hard to believe. Much easier to think that I am universally despised, merely tolerated by some. I was told straight that I was being put up with as a teenager: I was otherwise avoided. But that’s not true anymore. So, reaching out from behind this illness, I’m daring to believe differently. That’s a risk, and it’s scary. What if I’m wrong? The pain of that would be devastating.
But, shaking, I dare to believe.