I’ve missed several days of blogging, but my darling has been sick which throws my world upside down. It’s gut wrenching when you’re trying to nurse your son, and you just see him writhing around gasping for air because he can’t breathe and nurse at the same time, too congested. He’s always been super mellow and not one to easily cry. When he’s sick he breaks out into a crying fit. He’s also teething. I just stare into his tear-filled eyes scrambling through so many possibilities as to why he may be upset. Is it his gums? Is it because he’s congested? Does he need to cough? Is it his stomach? Sore throat? Headache?
So I held him the other night and rocked him in my arms and whispered to my little child, “I’m sorry I don’t know how you feel”.
Because I don’t. I don’t know how he feels. I don’t even want to pretend to know how someone feels when I have no idea. He – in whatever circumstance he is in right now – is unable to articulate exactly what he’s feeling and that’s okay. He’s not required to communicate that because what he’s feeling, he’s feeling. My job, as someone that loves him, is to continue to be with him and sit with him in his pain and just be there.
Honestly, it hurts me so much to see him hurting. Anyone that has empathy, knows that feeling – literally. I recall times I’ve prayed or sat with someone listening to their story and I end up weeping and feeling so much, that the person ends up apologizing to me for making me feel that way. Ironic! Ironic and… no. Because it’s not about me.
I feel like often times in our efforts to be there for people and with people, we’ve learned what it means to “listen”. How important it is to listen. Yet when the person is unable to communicate or say what it is they want or need to say , when we are unable to fulfill the appropriate task of “listening”, we fill in those gaps. We make assumptions. We assume how they feel based on experiences we had that were once similar and project those feelings on them. We then feel empowered to “diagnose” and complete the task. But what if, WHAT IF, the assumptions we made to fill in those gaps of communication are just that – assumptions? Assumed and incorrect? The unfortunate truth is is that many of us listen for the sake of responding. We want to have the answer, the advice, the experience. We want to feel empowered. Maybe, even in my situation here and now with my son, want to be the healer. The one that can fix things. That’s not my job. That’s not our job.
Because sometimes people- in whatever circumstance they are in right now – are sometimes unable to articulate exactly what they’re feeling and that’s okay. They’re not required to communicate that because what they’re feeling, they’re feeling. Our job, as someone that loves them, is to continue to be with them and sit with them in their pain and just be there.
So as my son writhes and twists and gasps for air with tear filled eyes unable to say what he’s feeling, I continue to rock him and confess without agenda that I don’t know. I can’t demand that he tells me what’s wrong, he’s unable to. But I’ll continue to sit with him, be with him, wait with him. I’ll hold his hand, I’ll catch his tears, I’ll listen to the sounds he’s able to make and wait. Maybe that’s all I can do right now and maybe that’s the best thing I can do right now.