We all know that person. The one who breaks into sobs while shopping for cabbage at Safeway. The son holding a lump in his throat until it can no longer be suppressed--in row 17, seat C. The mother dabbing tears before they fall at her son's fifth grade graduation, hoping no one will notice. Maybe their sorrows ignited your own, so you pushed them away with judgment: "Some people really oughta learn how to keep it together."
We know that person because we are that person.
So many times, we shun grief or sorrow that could not wait for a convenient time to be felt. In these moments, it is as if life has stolen our undergarments and hung them in the public square to dry. We feel exposed, raw, ashamed--if only our feelings would show up right on time, in the privacy of our homes or the folds of our most trusted inner circles.
Feelings can be messy. There will be moments when the thread unspools faster than we can wind it. This is okay. In fact, it is when we are vulnerable that we are most deserving of compassion.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who have been that person and those who will be. If you are that person, offer yourself a blessing of loving grace. If you are a witness to the unspooling, offer your fellow human the same blessing: I see you. I hear you. I love you.
Dr. Jill Gross is a licensed psychologist, dating coach, and writer whose therapy practice is located in the Phinney - Greenwood area of Seattle, Washington. She has been providing counseling and dating consultation services since 2000.