Friday, March 30, 2012

Let - It - Out!

The other week I took a day trip with my mom to go and visit my good friends parents who were dealing with some health issues. It was my friends dad and his battle with Cancer that was the main focal point of the visit as he had been struggling with it for some time already. But I said health issueS because his mom also has had, and still has, her fair share to deal with. She has been living with Diabetes her entire life and throughout the years it has progressed so much so that there have been days she cannot walk; she's doing better now but still has trouble moving around.
We all shared lunch together and talked over looking at photos, but my mom spent most of the visit with her while I talked with him. The conversation started off between the two of us as everyday chit chat about whether, and jobs and such, but slowly moved into a more serious discussion around the big C. As I have known this family for years it was not too difficult for this man to open up to me about how he really felt and the frustrations that grew under his skin.
When dealing with something life threatening it is not too difficult to understand how even past issues can become a current struggle.... because they are part of a life that you may inevitably be losing. We spoke in the basement while the ladies remained upstairs, which ended up working out as a good buffer zone between us all. There was no crying, no yelling, but there was definite frustration! After he had spit, trembled a bit, raised his voice and swore, (fairly often and loudly) he apologized to me. Like most people who want to be polite and kind and not make a big deal, I said, "It's okay, don't worry about it."

On the drive home from that afternoon visit I thought about some of the things that were said and the ranting and venting and swearing. I realized that when I told this man (who was groomed and dressed up pretty well but still looked very tired) "It's okay." I wasn't just being polite or passive, I really wanted him to feel that he could let it out.

I remember back to when I was still living in the big city, finding myself on the subway or bus listening to some stranger (maybe even someone homeless) going on about his or her problems. They had an accident at some point in their life or they got sick and they had to visit the doctor for this medication or go through that treatment. I remember working as a Security Officer at the hospital, or visiting a friend or family member, and some poor fool that I had never seen before telling me their sob story.
I would always be thinking in the back of my mind, "Why the hell are you telling me this?" But I wanted to be polite and kind and not make a big deal.

I'll admit that some people out there go on a little too long, rant or vent when they shouldn't, share too much personal information, go over-the-top with the self-pitying. But ever since that discussion with my friends dad I've been thinking that people really do need to let it out. Keeping things in can sometimes, I think, be worse than the disease or disability itself.
There are two problems to this. One is, some people (a lot even) tend to think the way I once did, "Why the hell are you telling me this?" And that passive, politeness, doesn't necessarily give way to listening. Some can't even be bothered with the politeness and just leave. The second dilemma is that we, including me, (very much so) tend to be afraid of sharing and/or burdening others with our struggles.

I've recently decided to join, or at least  test out, a local Brain Injury support group. We'll see what happens. What I do know though, is that not communicating, trying to resolve issues on your own, (any issues really) and  keeping things bolted up inside, never really do justice to you or anyone else. And just having someone to listen (although helpful) isn't always the trick, you need someone who can also understand......... not always, but sometimes.

There is nothing wrong with every so often letting - it - out. Both givers and receivers need to know this. And by the way, my friends dad was, shortly after that visit, diagnosed Cancer Free! Yay!!

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