In the safety of the corner on my large gray sectional she took a shallow breath, exhaled and stopped standing guard. Her walls crumbled and we said nothing, sitting by her side and allowing, but not absorbing her pain. We watched as our strong and steadfast friend gently unraveled. The hurt, fears and burdens of her life formed in the corner of her eye and ran down her cheek. She gave a voice to the weight she carried and shared what we could see but deftly danced around.
“I’m sorry y’all. I’m having a come apart”
I didn’t want to laugh, but as an Army brat transplant living in South Georgia I thought I had been privy to most Southern slang; come apart was a new one for me. Though I hated to see my friend hurting I adored the phrase, and I smirked to myself knowing I was skilled in the art of the come apart.
After a few minutes she sniffled, took a deliberate breath and began to piece herself back together. Sometimes it is the safety of a friend’s sectional that allows us to admit we are shouldering more than our fair share. Admitting is hard but silently struggling is even harder. My generation was not known for deep diving on feelings. Or maybe it was just my family. Either way, I was stunted in expressing emotions that were not positive and sharing sadness with others was definitely not an option.
Then I had children. My oldest daughter, Ellie, has always been my observer, shrewd critic and cheerleader. She sees the world in a similar vein but her lens on life allows me a glimpse of myself I sometimes need. One day my, wiser than her 21 years, daughter looked me in the eye while I was desperately trying to make lemonade out of the lemons life sent her and said,
“Sometimes it is ok if I’m just having a horrible day, Mom.”
I feared my children’s sadness and vigorously cleared and insulated the path they wandered. I felt as their mother it was my job to protect them from all things harmful or hurtful. The creation of a perfect childhood was my benchmark for motherhood but in my attempts to sanitize and orchestrate I learned I was denying my children the beauty of pain. Yes, beauty.
My personal credo is everything in moderation and even pain needs to be felt and dealt with moderately. I have found it staves off arrogance and intensifies your humanness. My pain has given me the gifts of wisdom, kindness and a greater understanding. Some of the most beautiful souls I know have suffered greatly. Pain is a gift you do not want to give or receive, but you appreciate when someone says, “Oh! I have that too!” It is in sharing our come aparts we grow together.
Pain can take many forms and be released in numerous ways, but I find a good old fashioned come apart is preferable.
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”
― Oprah Winfrey