I was 11 when my father’s mother passed away. We received the news over the phone. I remember standing in the doorway of my parent’s bathroom. My dad was working on pulling up carpet. I had been in my room being sad about the loss of a woman I didn’t know that well. Then I became sad for my dad having lost his mother. That was a hurt I could make personal.
“I’m feeling better daddy.”
” um…good?” Was his response
I was too young to understand how that may have come off. That it was all about me. What I meant was that I’m sure he was sad, but he didn’t have to worry about me. I was feeling better.
It is a vignette I have relived over again many times. It’s what some call a teachable moment. My first view into what people see when they see me. How perception can be different than intention. It took an organic response to a stressful situation and some time to learn this lesson. A lesson I have to relearn with every new person I meet. With every new stressor. I must learn to temper my urge to make sure people know they don’t have to worry about me. I am still learning what reaching out just enough looks like with most people. I am learning that what people perceive as the tough talks just aren’t for me. Sharing isn’t hard. NOT over sharing, that is my struggle. I don’t mind the work. I lament the loss of relationships that couldn’t sustain through the process. The reality is that most people aren’t who you thought they’d be when you get to know them on the inside. Some are pleasant surprises. Some are heartbreaks. All can teach us about ourselves.