Thursday, January 1, 2015

Lines of Connection

In the last couple of days, I was told about the devastation of a family, after the death of a son in an accident, and about an uncle who is older, lives alone, and is in need of help.

On the surface, neither one of these things may seem to have anything in common with me and my situation. However, in speaking with those affected, it was very clear there was a distinct line of connection.

A part of me wasn't surprised. I have been saying that we are much more related than most realize for quite aome time now. When I wrote my book (SometimesitSuckstobeHuman.com), I said that it was about LIFE and LIVING more than it was about cancer because it addressed aspects of life that were relatable - regardless of whether cancer was involved, or not.

I see these connections everywhere. I am able to relate to so many people in so many situations. Odds are we all have that ability much more than is realized when we stand in a limited box.

I could say you have no idea what I am going through, but on some level you do. You know what it is like to be ignored. You know what it is like to be disregarded. You know what it is like to be told what to do. You know what it is like to be judged, and judged lacking. You know what it feels like to be misunderstood. You know what it is like to feel something about someone or a situation, only to have others in disbelief or trying to convince you otherwise.

There is a lot more you can understand about me and my situation when you can see the human connection that we share.  How you react to me - or anyone else - is  going to depend in great part on where you are standing at the moment.

Are you standing in a place of relating or of fixing? I think there are those who think they are relating, when in actuality, what they are doing is using what they think they know - relating-wise, as a springboard to a fixing conversation.

"I have experienced this...I know exactly what to do." Ironically, perhaps, those who have dealt with cancer often think they have answers for me because they have been there. The fact is, while we may share the label "cancer," we do not share the same experiences in that realm. 

I am trying to sort out in my head where the line of understanding is, and where the insight of experience is helpful. After all, I share a lot about what I think all the time. Am I trying to fix things, too?

I am often mindful when talking to someone, wanting never to say, "I know the answer you need." The fact is, I very likely do not. What I seek to do is offer perspective. "This is where I stand in relation to this. This is how I think it relates to you and your situation." And then, I leave it open for more discussion at some point, or leave it be, knowing that the person needs to work out things for themselves.

I think this is an important key for anyone. And, in the process, so is having the support and respect of those around us. It is invaluable. It also is often hard to come by when so many try to tell us what they think is good for us - frequently they are in the process of mitigating their own discomfort about things.

We want the freedom to be ourselves while simultaneously we can be attached to a particular idea/perspective in regard to another - or their situation. But, of course, our blindspot rarely allows us to see the irony of this aspect of our nature.

We do not have to like something in order to appreciate it. In a recent conversation I was told over and over that I did not understand something. In actuality, I did understand. However, my desire for things to be different, and my sadness around what was was interpreted as a lack of understanding. 

It was not. 

We are allowed to be unhappy.  We are allowed our feelings. But things get jumbled and confused when other oeople's feelings get involved. If you understood my feelings - you would feel as I do. 

We need to make room for contrasting feelings to co-exist without it automatically being labelled as something problematic, without others being labelled a certain way in the process. If we are entitled to how we feel, why isn't the next person? Likely it is only because it doesn't fit our idea of how things should be or go - and it is inconvenient to have things that way. 

We are so good at protecting our blindspot that we make it about ourselves when things don't go the way we want them to. We don't feel heard. Our feelings get hurt. We don't feel appreciated - or feel taken for granted.

It is not likely that we will see the other person's perspective, when we are caught up in our own. If someone doesn't agree with me, or see things my way, they aren't saying anything about me. They are saying more about themselves, and what they feel is important to them. You may not agree, but there are times people won't agree with you, either. Are you going to want to be badgered? Are you going to want to hide how you really feel? Are you going to want to compromise what you want/believe because of what another wants/believes?

It is a sucky conversation because it is so uncomfortable to look at this stuff. That is why we love our, "yeah, buts..."

Dealing with as much as I have the last couple of years, I have learned to let go a lot more easily than in the past. I don't often have the time, nor the energy, to go to places I used to. I have also gotten a lot more clear about the murkiness of our interactions. It helps me to be a lot less reactionary. 

I still have my moments, though, as if you pay attention to what I say and write you likely know. I always wonder if in the process of speaking about something I am going to come across as contradictory in some way.
All I can say to that possibility is that - like you - I am human, and will have my human moments. I am just doing the best that I can in the moment with what I got - just like you are.

It is my hope that at some point we can do a better job of loving ourselves and each other through the stuff we don't like or appreciate. That might be at least a part of THE answer we are all looking for.

PS if you haven't yet voted for my blog today, would you please? I could win a much needed $1000, but I need votes to get there. The contest only runs two more weeks, and you could potentially give me 2 votes each of those days between Facebook and Twitter. Thank you.  http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest?badge=105


  1. This is such a beautiful, articulate, and thoughtful post. I love what you wrote: "I see these connections everywhere. I am able to relate to so many people in so many situations. Odds are we all have that ability much more than is realized when we stand in a limited box."


  2. I think it is natural to want to "fix" even when we try to relate, after all if you relate to a person, if you care about them, and you HAD a solution there wouldn't be anything wrong with sharing that solution, it would in fact prove that you care. The problem comes when you have no solution, or when there might be multiple solutions and the person is wanting to try something else, then sharing your "solution" seems pushy, or in the case of not having one at all, you just don't know what to say.

    1. I agree, that fixing seems to be natural, Vick. I don't mean to say it is inherently a "bad" thing. However, "fixes" of any type are much more likely to be welcome/appreciated/acted upon if asked for, and not volunteered. I think many who are in my type of situation especially, would agree that unsolicited "fixes" aren't as welcome as you might think. I also think that focusing on the "fix" can get in the way of truly connecting with someone - and wherever they are at. As far as the not knowing what to say part goes, I often find, "it sucks!" to often work quite well. Sometimes an acknowledgment of what is is all we need. Sadly, some things just can't be fixed. Thanks for your comments, and all the best in 2015 :)

  3. So very true... we are indeed often too caught up in our own perspectives that we fail to truly listen and appreciate the other's perspective. Yet we keenly recognize this when it's done to us! True connections with others is what we all truly crave. Beautifully written and articulated!

    1. Thanks Pauliina :) I appreciate you taking the time to stop by, read and comment.