Sunday, November 14, 2010
A grey Sunday morning had me at the library. It’s dirty and worn, like carpet in a Greek restaurant. On the faces of those I walked past, there was introspection. There was heated discussion and contemplative staring both making me curious to perch for awhile and listen. As I picked a plot where I could ponder myself, I faced a final dirty and worn surface where words were etched: “Please help. My boyfriend hits me.”
Of late I am struck and in love with the interminable unknown of people I encounter, mostly their struggles. Years ago, my mom would sit in our front window, watching cars and feet go by as my dad lay heaving on the couch, and wonder, “When they look at our house, do they guess what is going on inside?” I imagine part of her wanted them to know.
The same wonder makes me marvel at the resilience I encounter when I am privileged enough to go beneath someone’s surface; to knock on the door, walk in and sit a spell. This curiosity is at the epicenter of my ambition to be a therapist. I am always thinking of what I don’t know, and want to stay and inquire, or be silent until it bubbles up. It’s allowed me to learn from a friend whose spirituality is precisely what you hope to find in every Catholic, but a life tenet she keeps carefully close. I saw the remnants of someone’s writhing self-esteem following years of sexual abuse, all hidden beneath the veneer of name brands and financial wealth.
We all wonder what others think when they see us. We often hope we look put together, relevant, successful and aware. And most of the time we do, which is precisely the rub that I’m careful to acknowledge when my inner critic trumpets “I wish I had. . .” Because all of us are walking around with the weight of silence.
We have secrets, and sometimes I wish we could all share, just so I know I’m not alone. Instead of etching a plea on a bathroom stall, that a woman could feel empowered to speak or scream because it’s nothing to ashamed of and everything to be enraged and hurt over.
I told a new friend one of my secrets today. I’ve known her a year or so; known her to be astute, loving, careful. . . thin. I sat with her for a while, narrating my insecurity and personal path; depression and critique. It turns out she has the same secret.
And then the sun came out.