Behind the Eyes –
I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.
The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.
I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.
Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.
My Siberian Husky, Trooper, is a nut. He’s always in a hurry to go somewhere, fast! He feels left out if you leave him inside while you do a task outside. He wants to be in on everything I do, tagging along, “supervising.” He’s especially not fond of being chained up when I use the riding mower to cut the lawn.
The reason I place him on the chain out-of-the-way is that he wants to be near me. His desire for closeness results in him being in front, on the side and behind the mower. Its dangerous and so he’s put in a safe place until I finish. However, he doesn’t understand the reason so he expresses his displeasure by pulling the chain as far as it will go and then standing on his hind legs and howls, loudly! If you’ve never heard a Husky howl, click here for a few YouTube videos of Huskies getting their howl on! (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=husky%20yelling) I can hear his protestations over the lawn mower and ear plugs. In spite of my empathy for his plight I know the reason he’s there and, until the proper time, his screaming doesn’t dissuade my resolution.
Wisdom teaches us that limits and boundaries in life are necessary. There are times when we want to go further, harder, reach the summits of our dreams and desire yet something seems to hold us back from achieving what we so desperately want. We complain, scream, cite unfairness and simply don’t understand why we can’t have everything. Perhaps we can’t see the whole picture. Maybe there’s a danger we can’t see. Possibly acquiring our highest aspiration would lead us down a path which would threaten us and all we hold dear.
Sometimes working with people can be exhausting. You think you’ve reached a turning point which will make all the difference only to discover that around the corner leads to a dead-end.
I was speaking to a group of dads today and explaining to them each family, similar to individuals are unique. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to helping people get well and healthy. It takes time, effort and a willingness to listen, get to know, build trust and a relationship. Only then are you able to guide folks toward choices which benefit them and those they love.
Too often we approach people and life with a predetermined way of how things should be. We allow our biases, judgments and limited knowledge to build a lens which distorts our view. If we are to be of real service to those we love, our neighbors, those in need ,we cannot skip over respect, listening, building trust and relationships. If we only have a part of the picture and proceed to “fix” what we believe to be the problem we may end up causing more harm than good.