Wednesday, February 1, 2012
out of the fog
I spent some time this afternoon with a woman that I used to counsel. She has a history full of loss and betrayal and drug abuse and mental illness. She tends to be hyper-focused on the parts of her life that are sad or difficult, and to tell you the truth there's an awful lot of sad and difficult things to focus on around her. I realized that it was hard to stay engaged because no matter how much effort I put into listening with compassion and gently redirecting her, she wasn't listening to me. She's extremely well defended. And then I realized how very close I came to being this way myself.
It's so easy to walk into the fog and never emerge again. There's a comfort in the hazy light and the permission it gives you to hide. After a while, the fog becomes a friend, maybe your closest friend. It's terrifying to become vulnerable and step into the full light of day.
Frankly, I don't know how I escaped that fog. I was lucky or blessed or however you'd like to frame that. I had friends and family who loved me through some ugly years. I made a few decisions along the way that helped. I learned something about the grace of God and the way he loves me. But honestly, I can't really account for the difference between this woman and myself.
I don't want to squirm out of this too easily. Sometimes it's good to be uncomfortable. Every answer I try to tell myself about how I am here and she's there feels flimsy. They all feel self-serving or blaming. The search for a comfortable explanation is just another form of fog. It's meant to keep me safe, imagining that I'm so very different from this woman who is stuck and miserable.
The truth is, I'm not that different. And it's important for me to remember that so that I can stay compassionate. The truth is, it's hard to walk out of the fog. I get it.