Over the last few days, I've found myself in the position of doling out personal advice. I've blogged about this before, just last week, in fact. I have friends, both that I can readily see and those of the computer game kind, who have come to me with problems. Generally, all they seek is an ear and, if there is one thing I can do, it's listen and listen well.
I have been the beneficiary of friends listening to my tales of woe. Of late, they seem to come fast and furious and I sometimes wonder if another tale of a pothole is one tale too many. Still, you come back to see what I'm up to and I'm eternally grateful for that. The least I can do is listen to others.
I've heard some heart-wrenching stuff of late. I have the friends who are unemployed, going on years, not months; good, honest, talented, smart people who cannot find a job. I've listened to the fears that this is their lot in life and they are, truly, scared. I've listened to friends or family of those unemployed; their fears that this trial before them will tear their family apart simply because of the stress associated with lack of income and forced togetherness.
I've listened to tales of familial distress. Some things we do to those in our family are amongst the cruelest, most hurtful things I've ever heard. I know I am hearing just one side of the story, still standing up at a Saturday evening barbecue and calling your sister a "whore" to her face in front of 15 other people is not designed to do anything but hurt and she was massively hurt. I know. The sister poured out her feelings to me two days later.
Lately, I've been hearing the stories about broken hearts. I find this rather ironic. I have long since swept up the remains of my shattered heart and moved on. The people talking to me know I'm divorced and have been for a long time. They also know that while I would love someone in my life, I haven't found that person. I hardly feel in a position to comment on someone else's love life, yet here I am, listening and then being asked to provide advice.
The tales I've heard, of dreams dashed and betrayal and lies and deceit, have caused me to reflect on my life. It's very little consolation to tell someone, "There are more fish in the sea" when they have just had their heart stomped on. "They weren't the right person for you," also isn't much consolation when you thought they were right when you were together.
I have decided to take the tact that none of the sayings anyone tosses your way when you're going through a break-up makes you feel any better. As I've learned with finances, it is what it is. I have recommended people spend time finding something each day that makes them happy. I have suggested they pick a time each day to go into the bathroom, close the door and just wallow in their grief, because it is grief. You are grieving what you thought would be a relationship. Set a timer and allow yourself that amount of time to wallow, wail, cry, carry-on. When the bell goes off, you're done for the day. Move on to something else.
I tell them, there is no harm in being alone. Alone-ness is not a scary spot to be in. In that alone-ness, you find out things about yourself you never knew. I didn't realize I was as resourceful as I am. Things aren't working out the way I had dreamed my life would, but I'm doing the best I can. Yes, it would be nice to share this journey, to come home and have someone there to chat with. But, as I tell those who have come to me seeking an ear, if the alternative is someone who will lie to your face or cheat on you behind your back, isn't alone-ness preferable?
So, my can that collects nickles is always out and, like Lucy, I just need to take my position behind the desk. I think I'm astute enough to say that you need more help than just my ear can provide. Sometimes, however, a stool in front of a friend is all you need.
That will be 5 cents, please.
Beverage: Dr Pepper