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Every week, usually on Unconscious Mutterings Sundays (when I bother to post even that much), I tell myself and whoever is reading this, that I will be back to share more tomorrow. A few days at the most. A week at the outside. My intentions are good. I fully intend to write … tomorrow. Something always comes up.

Frankly, I haven’t wanted to share anything in the last two years, especially my thoughts. My opinions are poured on your head whether you want them or not, but my thoughts are awfully close to my soul – and my soul is bruised and hurting. Instinctively we wrap our arms around ourselves and go fetal when the thing to do is talk. Share. Write. Time may heal all wounds – eventually – but time takes time. Even though it goes completely against my nature, the thing that helps me most (and the fastest) is reaching out. If I have learned anything from writing this blog over the last 8 years, it is that when I reach out, someone always reaches in.

The simplest way to express it is just to say: I miss MoC. I wish she were here, I wish she could know some of the things I’ve learned. I wish she would make fun of me when I talk about the shape of Missouri and say “boot hill” instead of “boot heel.” I thought she was one of the few people who “got” me – and she was, and she did. But there are more than a few people who get it (me) – lots more. I just became very good at refusing to let anyone reach in.

So I’ve been thinking about that and some of the reasons behind it. The biggest reason is, of course, that I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to get hurt. Well, who does? It is difficult to earn trust without first giving it. Everyone has pain. Everyone has something they regret, something they wish they had done differently, someone they’ve lost to death or – perhaps even worse – to stubborn pride.

This week in my shrink time I was talking about how judgmental I can be. But there seems to be a line I draw somewhere. There is a deep well of compassion in me that I rarely tap, except for individuals with mental and/or emotional challenges. As a very small example, there is a young woman who works at a drug store near my house. She is always, without fail, kind and cheerful. And even though it always takes about ten minutes longer to get through her cashier line, I never lose my patience. She tries hard and I respect that. In my dealings with her I am, without fail, kind if not always super cheerful. (I’m a Capricorn. Baby, I was born this way).

She always asks me, “Did you find everything good?” And I always cringe a little on the inside, suppress the urge to tell her that Mr. Clean and the Scrubbing Bubbles are misbehaving on Aisle 6, and tell her that yes, I found everything I was looking for. The other day, she said, “Did you find … everything … um … well?” And, while I can’t tell you the rule, I know that not only is that not correct, it is actually a little bit worse. At least it sounds worse to me. Someone had obviously tried to correct her but I couldn’t figure out a kind way to say “An easier way to ask that is just to say Did you find everything you wanted?” without hurting her feelings and making her feel dumb. Which I truly did not want to do. So clearly, I am capable of compassion and empathy. Sometimes.

All of that made me wonder what the difference is between people I easily find compassion for and the vast majority of people I encounter. Like the person I saw as I was walking in the building the other morning, who heaved a sigh and started to say something, but I interrupted her with, “Could you at least let me time in and get to my desk before you start complaining?” What? The? Fuck? Was that? That was neither compassionate nor kind. And I don’t want to be that way anymore.

This is a journey for all of us. For those we lost, one way or another, they found their destination. We all have struggles. Most of us have some demons we still try to fight. Who am I to say whose struggle is worthy and whose is futile? And that question brought me to these two posts by my friend Wende. If I just stew on it and wait long enough she always says what I am thinking.