The Crying Man

One day on my lunch hour I went to a large hardware/lumber store. I was in the garden section looking for a pot for a plant. Along comes a tall white haired but hearty looking man. His curly hair and build made him look younger than I suspect he was. He towered over me, a profusion of white chest hair spilling out of his shirt. As he approached me his lovely Aussie accent came tumbling out of his mouth, “Hey you look like you might know something about plants. I got a question for ya.” In fact, I do not take after my mother, The Tomato Queen, who can grow anything. I have ten brown thumbs. I said “Well I am not sure about that but I’ll see what I can do. What do you need?” He proceeded to tell me… “I need something drought tolerant. I am making a memorial….. of sorts…. for….” At that point he burst out crying on the spot! Large loud crying, wracking shoulders, bent over his large garden cart. He continued walking this cart forward all the while crying and bent at the waist. I think he did not know where to go or what to do.

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Compassionate or doormat?

Being compassionate and being ‘the wounded healer’ and wanting to help others is a good thing to do. But be careful you don’t overdo it in terms of being a doormat. You should never come away from an experience in compassion feeling used, spent, foolish, tired, or drained. And certainly you should never feel you have been taken advantage of.

Several years back, a local I knew and liked came knocking on my door in a rainstorm. Let’s call him The Farrier. I knew, as did everyone in town, he was recently on the outs with his boss/landlord. He had been kicked out of the place he had been staying, and lost his job. He was at rock bottom. I could not turn him away in the rain. Looking back, he had it timed just right, how could a person turn someone away in a downpour? Once I realized he needed more than shelter from this storm, I made it clear, this was to be temporary. I offered him three months stay, as long as he helped himself to get ahead in the world, not just lay around sleeping. He needed to earn his keep in working toward his future. I stressed it was more important that he work toward his future, than do chores around my home.

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Where compassion is born

When I hear someone is having a hard time with life, miserable, or suffering through a painful experience, I also experience pain at the empathy level. I can almost feel it, viscerally, inside my body, emotionally, and mentally. How did this happen? How was I softened? I can tell you, when it was time to end a relationship that was over 18 years long, it was difficult. I held on to the bitter end. It was me being foolishly loyal to someone who did not have my best interest at heart. It felt like torture to be in this relationship every day. I seemed to do something wrong, not make my partner happy, and no matter how hard I tried, I was made to feel that everything was naturally my fault and I failed at every attempt to ‘fix’ things.

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