Perhaps a bit intoxified, but these words must be written now before I forget the impression that was made upon me tonight.
Yes, I went to a bar on a Tuesday night. Yes, I had a few beers. I met a small group of interesting people and had a very fine time. However, two heart-breaking stories sat before me tonight and for very different reasons.
One woman was there drinking her sorrows because she had suspected her fiancé of over a year to be cheating on her. Tonight she confirmed that. She was a mature and beautiful woman, who had much going for her. It was unbelievable that any man could not find this amazing graceful splendor enough to satisfy him. She dealt with the situation with unbelievable grace despite masking the serious pain she felt deep within her soul.
The other story was an angst-ridden young woman who thought her world was horrid. She too was quite striking in appearance, and on the surface she was to be desired by many in the establishment. However, within just seconds of conversation, the scene from Shallow Hal where the nurse comes to berate the helpers came to mind. She was so angry and ugly, and with little cause. Obviously there was much hidden to her story, but what she revealed for the purpose of gaining sympathy did not merit any excuses for her retched behavior.
At one point, I violated the trust of the first woman – because everyone who had been paying attention knew. I told the younger that the woman next to her was suffering worse than she. What I witnessed next was both pathetic and appalling. The younger started to lecture the graceful woman about how “he” wasn’t worth it, blah, blah, blah – but instantly, it turned to her own examples and her own pain – and without any compassion, the consoling became a personal pity party for the younger woman. It was both sickening and difficult to watch.
I watched the mature woman handle the conversation with dignity and never retaliated. I saw the annoyance and sorrow paint itself across her face. The younger woman’s help was causing much damage, and youth didn’t even know it.
Then, an epiphany struck me. I questioned – how often am I that younger woman, pretending to console another person when really I am just expressing my own pain. I act like I can draw on some great well of wisdom from my personal experiences, while in reality I am simply turning the conference into what matters to me!
I hope to never forget this. I hope to remember it when I am called to be the listening ear to someone in pain. I hope to recall that I am there to listen – not preach, teach or leech.