Feedback to Bumps in the Path, etc.

Bumps in the Path: an Experience of Listening hit so hard that the feedback comes from phone calls instead of comments here on the blog. It is an emotionally charged, difficult subject, one that needs some help getting to a point where specific reactions can be identified and worked through. I find this understandable as I think back on the struggle I had to write the post.

My friend called this morning on her way to work. She said, "I read a lot of your blog this weekend." I hadn't had the chance to tell her I had written about our last conversation, so I asked her if it was OK. "Yeah, yeah," she says, "It was sweet. You're right about how hard it is to help someone close to you. You don't know how many times I've been afraid to go home, afraid of what I'd find." I came away from this morning's conversation feeling that she felt the support I offer, and that she can now forgive herself a bit for the "oughts", her expectations of herself in her roles with the person in crisis.

I watched Tim's face (my son, who is 22) as he read the post. In his usual, witty way, he said, "That's constant reader, chief. Stephen King calls them constant readers." When he got to the purpose of the call, his face went white. It hit home hard for him. Recently, he tells me, he has been helping a friend of his who has talked about suicide quite a lot. He said, "It's more important to help the person helping the suicidal person. I have no patience for someone who thinks suicide is the way out, and it's been hard for me to try to help my friend." He said, "It's just selfish. It's also selfish to grieve over the loss of someone who committed suicide." Though I was surprised by his seemingly unfeeling reaction, it launched us into a long conversation about the stages of grief and life stresses. In the end, he said, "It's the terror. When you said you were terrified, I was terrified too. I've felt that many times trying to help my friend."

Another person happened to call right after I had written Bumps in the Path. She tells me, "I can't read your blog. I get halfway through a post and give up trying to understand what it is you're trying to say. If I feel this way, other people reading it must feel this way too." Drilling down, she says that what I relate things to, like Buddhism and Zen and actualization, are things she knows nothing about and therefore can't understand.

She's right. If she misses the analogies, then others must too, so I started polling: "Your writing style has always been great, and I always look forward to reading what you write." And, "If I can understand it, anybody can. You don't have to know about Buddhism and Zen and actualization to understand what you're saying. I don't know about those things and I can understand you just fine." And the response that ended my polling came last night: "You are writing about self-evaluation and growth and becoming a better person. Some people either don't want to do that or have no idea that it is an option. In a way, it's like music. To some it's noise, to others, it's beautiful."

Yes, we all walk a different path. I remain hopeful that I can help smooth out some of your bumps. If you've a mind to, that is.

Thanks for reading, dear reader!

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