There I was. Hiding away in my head. Words circling with nowhere to escape. When you’re having an off day the last thing you want to hear is, “we are all going through something.” In our weakest moments we want someone who understands but also someone who can make it better.
I run my hands under the water. As hot as it will get. Maybe the blood will move from my overactive heart back into my fingers. Turn faucet off. Dry hands. Hit light switch. “Hey!” Oops. I had just turned the light out on someone in a stall. Flip switch back on. “Thanks.”
Words. We rely heavily on words. When we experience silence in conversation we feel we are ripping the other person off. Like their words deserve to be reciprocated with more conviction. But maybe what my words need most is action in silence.
So we stew when all we hear is, “Oh honey, it’ll get better. We’re all facing something.” Or even better, the whole “are you okay?” That one gets me. What if I’m not okay? I either say yes and you call me a liar or I say no and you say sorry. But it doesn’t fix me.
I personally struggle with saying I’m not okay. Of course, not on here. It’s easy as pie when the words fly straight from my head to this page. Never having to be filtered by breath. But when they have to experience the foot of air between you and I? They anticipate the travel. They freeze and change form. “I’m not alright” turns into a smiley, “Yup”. The pain moving from my voice to the dull glow in my eyes.
What’s the point of saying I’m not alright? Like I said before, it will probably be greeted with a “everything is alright. We’re all blah blah blah.” No amount of words fix anxiety or lack of motivation. I just want action.
And it rarely happens. Oh, one sec. I’m getting a call. Ah it’s just my hypocrisy. I know people who struggle everyday and my actions never go farther than a hug with a few pats on the shoulder. Or a text.
We need words. But you know that old saying…Actions speak louder than words. So how do we get the action we so long for? I’ll tell you.
The person in the bathroom was silent. And what happened? The light was shut off. That’s me and you. Struggling to make it through our days. Hoping no one sees us. People pass us by because we are silent. They leave when we are in need because they don’t know what we need.
But when the light went out, the woman immediately spoke up. She knew if she didn’t speak soon enough I would be gone and she would be left in the dark desiring action with no one to give it. “Hey!”
Her hey told me she was there. She needed my help. Did I say, “oh, are you okay?” Nope, that may have been weird, haha. I didn’t speak a single syllable. I knew exactly what she needed by her squeal. And so I did it. Flip. Lights back on. “Thank you.”
Did she get angry that I turned the lights off? No because she knew it was because of her silence. She knew I didn’t do it on purpose. And by reacting to her cry for help with quiet action, she was grateful. Now if I would have bombarded her with questions after her plea…she probably would have been a little more annoyed than grateful.
Society tells us we should expect to be treated a certain way. And when friends, relatives, or significant others lack action, we are told to leave. But friends. We have to speak what we expect and that also means when we are hurting. God did not give the people around us super powers to know when we are hurting. They are not studying our every move waiting for our silent pleas. They need us to speak up.
We can’t go around sulking and believing people will only give empty words. We have to give specific direction.
“No, I’m not alright. Could you sit with me for a bit?”
“I’m okay but I’m feeling a little lonely. Do you mind spending some time with me?”
“Do you mind just listening over some coffee?”
I know. We feel like we shouldn’t have to tell people that we hurt and we need them. They should be intune with us. They should sense it. But I have a question. Do you really believe you can tell what everyone around you needs without any direction? If so, can you be my friend?
We have to speak up. Be vulnerable. You’ll be amazed by the action that follows. Afterall, you don’t want to be stuck on the toilet in the dark do ya?
From Her Fortress.