I wasn’t going to put it off anymore. For weeks, I’d told myself I would call in to Alan Cohen’s Hay House radio program, Get Real. He’s one of my favorite authors, and I wanted his advice on a rift that had occurred between me and a family member that was causing me a lot of sadness and confusion. So before I could chicken out, I dialed the number and within seconds was talking to the call screener.
“Hold the line,” he said, after I explained my issue. As I half-listened to Alan talking to another caller, I rehearsed what I would say.
Some history: I once wrote a blog about my frustration over the way callers say, “I have a question for you,” and then never actually ask a question. They launch into a lengthy personal story and, rather than getting to the point, get lost in a clutter of details.
I was determined that this would not be me. I would be an exemplary caller, impressing Alan with my ability to be articulate and concise.
I heard Alan thank his first caller and say, “Now we go to Tammy in Chicago.” I took a deep breath and jumped in. I thanked him and told him how much I admired him, and it was just like talking to anyone on the phone. There was nothing to it.
The question I’d prepared was: Once I surrender a relationship to God and trust God to transform it, what actions, if any, do I take?
I opened my mouth to give Alan the pertinent details about how a perceived slight had led to an unfair attack on me and….wait. What were these words coming out of my mouth? I felt a cloud of confusion overtake me and, worse than that, I sounded confused.
Thankfully, Alan broke in and asked if I would be willing to roleplay an exchange with him acting as my family member. He told me to tell him how I was hurt and what I needed from him and that’s when the unthinkable happened: I started to cry. On international radio.
Whatever came next is mostly a blur. I know that Alan expressed appreciation that I was willing to share so openly, but all I could think of was how listeners were surely judging me as messy and incoherent. Afterward, a friend happened to be listening and called me.
“You already told me about that issue,” he said, “and I knew it bothered you, but I was really surprised at the depth of your pain.”
So was I. I thought I had reasoned my way into forgiving this person and situation. By calling Alan, I simply wanted him to tell me that I’d done all I could. Or if there was another action to take, I wanted him to tell me what it was. Instead, he listened to me cry.
I thought of this call again when my sister, who suffers from PTSD, was in a situation that triggered intense anxiety. She didn’t share what had triggered her until later, and that’s when the emotion came up.
“But wouldn’t it have helped if you had spoken up?” I asked. “Wouldn’t acknowledging the anxiety to the people who were there have helped?”
“No!” she said, “I can’t talk about it yet without crying.”
“Maybe you need to cry while you talk about it before you can move through it,” I said.
She shook her head, unconvinced, and I understand. We don’t want to share feelings until they are already neatly boxed and presented with a bow.
But sometimes we’re messy and we don’t do things the way we hope. Sometimes we blather and we weep. We become confused and inarticulate.
Shouldn’t we do it anyway? Whether that means sharing the hurt, or giving ourselves permission to bring up a problem before we have a solution, can we allow life to be open-ended?
I’m going to practice here and now by allowing this blog to be open-ended, because, truthfully, I don’t have any pithy wrap-up here. And I’m thinking my time may be better spent by listening to the recording of Alan’s show (which I’ve avoided doing) to hear what exactly he told me. Maybe it will bring up more confusion and tears. But maybe it won’t.
Thanks for letting me share.
[bctt tweet=”Sometimes we’re messy and don’t do things the way we hope. Sometimes we blather and weep. We become confused and inarticulate. #oktocry” username=””]