Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Anatomy of Heartache

Sunday was typical except that no Sissy meant we could sit up front in the chapel at church instead of the back on a side pew.  We like to trap her in so there's no running up on the stand or rolling around in the aisle.
I can pay attention better when I am up front.  In the back, I get busy checking out who's wearing what, coveting someone Else's beautiful dress, or what kids are being so cute.  Basically my ADD kicks in and I'm generally a lost cause.

Yes, the speakers were great this week, but unfortunately I found my mind wandering again.  I happened to look at a woman sitting a few rows ahead of me.  I know her, but not well.  I am aware of a few of her trials, but not in detail.  We exchange pleasantries but don't share secrets.  This time, I happened to look at her, but a little deeper.  Somehow, I could feel her heart ache. 
I thought about the things I DID know she struggled with, and they are many of the same every day issues we all have.  But, for some reason my heart hurt extra more for her.

You see, I know heartache.  I know it up close and personal. We've been acquainted too many times in my life for my liking, but that's a part of life.
 Most of us do in some form or another.  I felt compelled to help her.  How could I though?  We aren't good enough friends for me to just approach her and say something.  No..... my assistance would be silent for now.  Prayers on her behalf.

My thoughts focused on heartache.  You know that feeling that your heart is going to burst because you are in so much emotional pain?  The feeling that it's even hard to take a breath because your chest is swollen up and breathing seems so taxing.  The loneliness of not being understood.  The isolation of keeping it all to yourself, for fear that if you verbalized your feelings, someone might haul you away in a tight white coat to a padded room.  That kind of heartache.  The kind you think will never, ever end.

I thought of her.  I could feel it.  I started to think of so many others that I knew of or had an inkling of their struggles.  Some friends, I know first hand of their trials, having experienced similar things, and others I can only imagine since I haven't been called on for that particular trial.  But, I think the heartache might be the same.  Crushing.  Overwhelming. All-consuming.  The despair that it oftentimes brings with it.

My thought was this:  I might not know YOUR particular heartache, but I know heartache and can that be enough to help you?  I know the feelings, can that be sufficient to succor you in some way?
  I also know that it will end.  The pain will lessen, the hurt will soften, the sting will appease.  Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it does and WILL get better.  Can my knowledge of that be enough to give hope to you?

The thought of someone dying on the inside, alone and feeling isolated, is too much for me.

So again, I implore.............I don't know YOUR specific heartache, but I know heartache.  Can that be enough?


Teachinfourth said...

There is a huge difference between sympathy and empathy. Sometimes, just knowing that somebody else out there can understand can make a world of difference.

Thanks for your words...

Heather said...

I loved this, and love you all the more for writing it. Honestly, it seems as though this post was meant specifically for me today.

Missy said...

This is a very powerful post! Love it! I pray nightly for the broken hearts!

Garden of Egan said...

That was beautiful.
You are amazing.
Yes, I think that might be enough for now.
Never underestimate prayer.
Pray to know how you can approach her and let her know you care.

tiburon said...

I am not really sure what to say about this...

Thanks for the thoughts. It is nice to see your chewy center from time to time.

Pedaling said...

from another who knows heartache.

yes, your knowing heartache cCAN be enough.

Mrs. Organic said...

I think so. I really think so. Remember that talk that mentions to never suppress a kindness? I believe that.

Sometimes a reassuring hug/prescence goes a long way - it helps to know you count, you matter to someone - even if they can't possibly understand everything you're dealing with

The Blanchard Family said...


Last year when I was at a low I didn't know was possible I heard something that has really stuck with me. This is a true story that I was told from my social worker at Primary Childrens. She said there was a mom in one room whose child was stable, but recovering from a pretty hefty heart surgery. In the room to the left was a mom who was losing her child. The baby was dying of heart failure. And in the room to the right was a mom who was waiting with her child after a quick in and out procedure. The woman whose child was dying was so gracious, appreciative, and strong. The woman waiting to take her healthy child home was angry, bitter, and rude. The mom in the middle asked this social worker a question. She said, "How do you deal with people like that? How are you able to treat all people the same even when you can clearly see that some are going through something so much worse?" The social worker had a simple reply that I hope I can always remember. ALWAYS. She said, "I just try to remember that the trial each person is going through is the hardest thing they personally have ever been through or dealt with."

So cool. It is true. While I have had my trials in life that I felt I couldn't possibly bare. . .others have also. No matter what it is. Everyone has to deal.

Java said...

You are such a compassionate person...very much like myself! I agree with you and yes that is enough! Feeling empathy for someone else whether you have anything to do with them is not is huge and a characteristic that not many people are able to have. You have a gift and instead of it making you sad, take what you have use to it your advantage. I have a saying that I often remind myself, "There is always someone worse off then myself" are stronger then you think you are!!


tammy said...

Sometimes the only thing we can do for another is to pray for them. The Spirit spoke to you and you listened. How many of us feel promptings and ignore them because we don't know what to do? Sometimes the trials that we have in common with others is the thing that binds us with them. I have a few friends that have become even better friends because we've been able to empathize. You have a good heart. But I already knew that.

Gloria (The Mamafamilias) said...

Love this post.

That's been one of my blessings of getting older. When I was a young mother, I would look around at church and think that these other women had the perfect lives, perfect husbands, perfect everything. Older age has taught me that every single one of us has some crud that we're dealing with, sometimes the crud is worse than other times, but we all still have crud. And I tried very hard to get that point across to my girls when they became old enough to understand. I remember teaching a Relief Society lesson one time and fully realizing for the 1st time that sympathy is when you feel bad for someone - empathy is when you feel bad with someone. Big difference.

This post is why I love blogging. It has brought me wonderful, understanding friends that I've never met.

Cherie said...

I think you are dead on right! YOu CAN help.
This is why we have our own heartaches and struggles to a certain extent. Once we get through our own we can relate to and help others through their heartaches.
Great post!


That can be enoug. Just knowing that even though some ones trials may not be the same as mine, I know everyone has felt the refiners fire in some way and deserve that chance to not feel so alone.

Just SO said...

Melissa. Thank you. It can be enough. It definitely can.

Mae Rae said...

i know that I can not catch up on all that I am behind with and sometimes I just have to let go. I was about to delete all of the unread google posts when I was drawn to you for some unknown reason. Today, i needed this. YOU are a reason! Thank you for these powerful words today.

And on the lighter ADD kills me in church. Especially at communion and I end up watching people's shoes.

Lene said...

Why yes, yes it can...