“Time heals all wounds.” ”Be strong.” “Time is/is not your enemy.” “This is a learning experience.” “Maybe it’s for the best.” “It’s time to move on?” (or move up? Quick, what was the show where “we’re moving on up?).
Having spent the better part of 4 years learning, coping, and dealing with the aftermath of a difficult divorce, I have heard more than my fair share of life’s little tidbits of wisdom bestowed upon me from various sources including friends, relatives, clergy, or random strangers. Some words I had heard before, and some were new to my ears. During the divorce, I didn’t share a lot with friends and family about how I was feeling. In fact, I probably became somewhat of a recluse, hiding out in my fortress of solitude. But when I did open up to friends and family and really listened to the advice given, I heard only words. It wasn’t that I didn’t care to listen or that I wasn’t being appreciative of the attempt; I was craving solace from others. It was as though the words seemed to me to be so shallow and trivial. I found there was little passion behind the words spoken. While listening to this person give me this sage advice, I often asked myself if this person had spoken these same words before to someone else in the same situation?
The same could be said of me I am sure. I have lots of conversations with many people every day. I am fairly confident I repeat the same phrases and words. But why? Is it in an attempt not to open up and possibly look foolish? Is it because I don’t have a genuine interest in what I am saying? Or is it because I don’t really know what to say, and I am attempting to fill the empty space with empty words?
It reminds me the last time I actually went to a doctor for a major procedure. My ex and I were in the room waiting. The doctor came in holding my chart. Without looking up, he sat down on a chair across from me. I was sitting on the table in a hospital gown with my backside exposed, and again without looking up from his chart, he asked me how I am doing? I made a self-deprecating joke, and he didn’t laugh. He continued to stare at the chart, and we sat there in awkward silence. I received no indication that he really wanted to help. He then proceeded to look up at me, smile and give a 1 minute 26 second explanation of the procedure he was going to perform. His words were vapid, and any movement of his face was non-existent. It was if there was a teleprompter behind me, and he was reading it directly from it. When he finished, he asked me if I had any questions. I said yes, and asked him if he had ever had given that speech before? He asked me why I asked that question. I told him, with tongue firmly implanted in cheek, it was because it seemed so personal and heartfelt. He stared at me for a moment, gave me a half-smile, and went on with the appointment. In all honesty, I could have received more benefit if he would have simply handed me a printed copy of the words and read it myself. Here I was, in a completely vulnerable position, and my doctor gave me no indication that he had any empathy or understanding how uncomfortable I was. He did not have the secret to communicating with me.
Have you found that when you are in a life-funk, you could open up a book of quotations, find the chapter on whatever ails you, love, happiness, depression, loneliness, recite it to yourself out loud, and it may be more meaningful than having an actual conversation with someone? (Please note, if you find yourself doing this more than once a day, you should be honest with yourself and throw away the book). If someone is seeking companionship and is wanting advice, why is there oftentimes a lack of passion or humanistic element in the voice in the person giving the advice? And when there is passion, why does it sound so preachy and demanding and so vacant of emotion? When one is angry, zeal is certainly present. But how about when an expression of love is needed? Or when support or consolation is really needed. Or how about conviction of expression? Is that same zeal present?
Do you have passion in the words you give to others? Next time you’re presented with a difficult situation that involves someone else, whether it be in marriage, divorce, or dating, would you be willing to open up your heart and share it with that person? If you are unable to freely express your true feelings, then maybe you’ll know you don’t have the conviction. And if you don’t have the conviction in your words, but want to get your point across, I’ll give you the number of my doctor. His oratory skills were superb.