Heart Sinking, Hurt Growing
She’s staring back at me. A pretty face, short brown hair, white skin with pink splotches painted across her face. Her eyes are a soft blue set above bold cheek bones and a sharp jawline. When I look at her, I see the scar from the surgery on her lip in middle school and the contacts laying atop her cornea. I see the weight of…. something, I’m not sure what, but I see it laying on her shoulders. She looks tired. She looks sad and tired and disappointed. She’s waiting for me to give her clear direction, to tell her what to do. She’s staring back at me, waiting for the words, but I’m not sure what to say.
So, if that girl staring at me was my best friend, what would I say to her? I use a question similar to that frequently in calls with my clients. What would I say to dry the tears welling in her eyes? What wisdom can I give her to help release the weight on her shoulders?. I look at her, offer a soft but welcoming smile, and ask her the question.
She responds, “I’d tell her to take a breath and stop thinking. Stop over-thinking. I’d tell her that she is absolutely capable of doing all the things she’s ever talked about. I’d assure her that she’ll eventually be grateful it didn’t work out. I’d remind her that I believe in her and that I want to help her if I can. I’d remind her that I’m her cheerleader. I’d tell her that she is smart, kind, sweet, silly, loved, fun, funny, talented, capable, stylish, well-spoken, and more. I’d remind her that she has always been able to work hard and that I’ve always admired her for the way she does all the things she does. I wouldn’t allow the cruel negativity and I’d cheer her on and up relentlessly. I’d be her friend and her support system. I’d tell her I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but this is a good thing for some reason we have yet to know.”
I lift my eyes from the sink and look into the mirror one more time. The girl with the pretty blue eye and the scarred lip meets me there. “I believe in you”, I say to her. “I believe you can figure this out. I believe you can do more. I believe you can create the life you’ve dreamt of. It’s going to be hard, you know it is, but you’ve done hard things before. You’ve failed at hard things before and lived through them. You kept going. I believe you can do this. I believe, one day at a time, you can build this. I believe.”
She smiles back at me, the tears are drying in her eyes now. She takes one deep breath, holds the inhale for just a moment and exhales as I watch her shoulders drop. As I open my mouth to speak, so too does she, and our voice fills the little bathroom.
“I can’t feel it right now, but this is a good thing. Right now, I’m sad. And that’s okay. Right now, I’m disappointed and confused and impatient. That’s okay, too. These emotions will pass and, after they do, time will reveal the thing I get to say ‘yes’ to because they said ‘No’. I’m still proud of me. I’m still proud of the work I put in and the vulnerable position I placed myself in. It was hard, but I’m still standing. Feeling these emotions is not fun, but I’m still alive. Something better, something more meant for me, is coming. I’m okay.. and it’s going to be great.”
My body turns away from the mirror and I leave the bathroom to tackle the rest of the day.