When a helper needs help…
A couple of months ago, I found a little dead bird outside one of the large plate glass windows at work. The windows are slightly mirrored on the outside, and birds fly into them from time to time, breaking their little necks. This bird was exquisite and tiny, with greenish-yellow feathers on his back and wings, and a whitish breast.
Outside he was intact, with no visible injuries. So beautiful and small. But inside, he was broken.
I’ve been feeling like that lately. Today was the 17th anniversary of Mama’s death, and the days of the week this year are the same as the year she died. I remember things like this. Plus, two days ago was a full moon, which in my experience brings on more vivid dreams. Mama’s anniversary and the moon waxing toward full have brought on a lot of dead people dreams. I’ve had dreams of Mama, Aunt Ruby and Aunt Martha and Lola clustered very close together in the last couple of weeks. Even Ernie The Wonder Beagle showed up in a dream.
The people I am closest to know that I have a sensitive side; they’ve been subjected to it throughout our lives. But, while I consider myself to be pretty transparent most of the time, I don’t expose my tender places a lot. I’m a good listener (so I’ve been told, anyway) and more often than not, I am the person who offers the shoulder to cry on. Even my Enneagram research bears this out. I am an Ennea-type 2—The Helper.
And that’s great. Most of the time. But it is a mixed blessing.
Most of the time I am a jokester, a clown. I laugh easily and usually I try to bring others along for a ride on The Goofball Express. That is the side of myself I am most comfortable with other people seeing, and I think it’s the side they are most used to.
It’s hard for a clown like me to even NEED help, much less to ADMIT that I need it. It feels naked, exposed. It feels vulnerable. I tend to be much more comfortable with the vulnerability of other people than with my own.
But clowns like me cry sometimes. Our tender places need to be soothed and comforted. I have struggled the past couple of days with grief and sad memories, feeling weepy and lonesome. I told Sweet Pea a little while ago that sometimes I just get so tired of missing people. He listened to me with loving concern and compassion, telling me there was no need to apologize (which I always do when I cry. Old habits die hard, I guess. My tears were generally not accepted very well as I was growing up, except by Aunt Ruby.). He has dealt with many tears of mine over the years, and while it hurts him to see me hurting, he listens without judging. It’s a priceless gift.
My bouncy, clownish self will return soon enough. There are gag Christmas presents to give and ugly sweaters to wear. There is music (and cake) to be made. But this day…this day has witnessed the tears of a clown.