I'm cranky today. A little snarky. Is it a good time for me to write a blog? Probably not. There's a better than average chance that I'm going to offend or hurt someone. This is your warning. Proceed with caution.
Don't you just love unsolicited advice? The way everyone around you knows exactly how to fix your life? No, me either.
Do I believe their intentions are pure? Sometimes. Do I think they are trying to be hurtful? Not usually. Do I find what they say to be helpful? Very, very rarely. Usually it comes across as self-agrandizing, holier-than-thou preaching. At least to me it does. Especially if I am really having a hard time.
I am not going to tell you how to talk to someone who's having a hard time. That would be exactly the problem I'm talking about. I am going to tell you how I would like people to interact with me when I am having a hard time.
1. Don't assume you know what the problem is. My life is multi-faceted. What bothers me one day doesn't the next. If you think that the one problem you know about is the only problem in my life then you are delusional. One day it's my health. One day it's my relationship with my husband. One day it's my past. One day it's hormonal. And some days I don't even know what it is, so how could you?
If you want to know what the problem is (because you are concerned, not out of a morbid curiosity or need to know for your own selfish reasons) then ask me. Talk to me. Express your concern and your willingness to listen. And be prepared for a brush off. If you are not a person that I am comfortable talking to in that moment, respect that. These are my feelings and I get to choose who to share them with.
2. Don't you dare tell me that you know how I feel (or how I should feel). You don't. Even if you've had a similar experience, your life up to and around that point are not the same as mine. You do not have the same temperment as me. You do not live inside my mind and body. You do NOT know how I feel. Nothing will alienate me from you faster than that.
But it will ingratiate you to me if you admit right up front that you don't know how I feel. Maybe you have an idea, maybe not. Express your own personal sorrow at seeing me in pain. Or express your frustration that you can't make me feel better. Or express your willingness to listen. Again, listening is the key. Which leads to number three.
3. Don't try to fix me or my life or my problem. These are not yours to fix. It is not your job to make me feel better no matter who you are. And when you try, when you tell me how to fix it, you are saying that you have no faith in me to overcome it on my own. You are saying that you know better how to live my life than I do. I'm sorry, but there is no chance that when I reach final judgment I am going to be asked how well you lived my life. It's my life to live and I need to do it. I need to figure it out for myself.
Listen. Just listen. Cry with me. Hug me. Comfort me. Whatever. But don't try to take my problems away from me. They are mine. They are how I become who I am meant to be. They are how I grow stronger. They are mine and I will not surrender them. They are a part of me and I am less without them. I need them. And when I don't need them anymore it will be because I overcame them. I chose to give them away. I got everything I needed out of them and gave them back to God.