This article starts out a little sad, but most good stories do.
You see my new website didn’t start out smoothly. Even after it was uploaded and everyone else seemed to be able to see it, the site kept showing up on my browsers (all three of them) as 404. I checked browser settings, shut off my firewall, my antivirus. My tech helped me mess with a bunch of windows settings, we changed files and added lines of code, all to no avail. After more than 6 hours messing with it all I was a total mess. I gave up and sent my tech, who is a day sleeper, back to nap and walked away from the computer.
I was crying by the time I gave up and I went to the living room and opened the drapes. I was cold, the sun was shining and laid my head on the back of the couch and just started sobbing. I let it all come out. I was tired, frustrated, my site opening wasn’t going the way I planned, I couldn’t fix it.. it seemed that no one could. So there I sat, sobbing my heart out, feeling like I’d failed at everything.
Quietly, with no noise at all, my little cat Chloe got up on the back of the couch and laid down by my head. She started to nuzzle my hair and purr as loud as her little body could purr. She laid there patiently just purring till her little body shook, nuzzling me, sniffling in my hair, just patiently laying with me while I sobbed.
Eventually I calmed. I stopped shaking and Chloe stayed with me, still purring till I finally stopped crying. She gave me kisses and when she was satisfied that I was OK she got down off the couch and went back to her cat business.
It got me thinking about our jobs as “supporters” in an often volatile community, in an even more volatile world. Life can be very hard of those of us who call ourselves empaths, vampires, donors, community supporters. We always want to “fix” everything that we see hurting other people, breaking their hearts. We want those we care about to stop crying, to take heart, to cheer up. That is not always a practical solution, nor is it always the right thing.
Chloe seemed to know, somehow, that I needed to cry it out. She didn’t tell me it would all be OK. She didn’t try to bring me toys or make any effort to be silly in an effort to distract me. I was sad and overwhelmed and stressed. She just stayed with me and sat beside me till I could stop crying and move on.
“But CG when I’m sad I don’t have a cat to cheer me up!” No, maybe you don’t, but you don’t need a cat. What we often need is just a friend. Someone who is willing to sit beside us in the dark till we can see the light again. Someone who will just nuzzle us and purr and let us cry till we stop. Chloe made no effort to leave me. She just sat with me, letting me know that she cared that I was sad. Sometimes that is all it takes.
Tears are not always bad things. They do not always need to be fixed. Sometimes the best things we can do as community support people is just BE THERE with someone who can’t see light. Sit with them right there, in the dark so they know its OK to cry and it doesn’t necessarily NEED to be fixed, just released.
There is a great deal to say for just being there for and with someone. Sometimes its enough. Maybe Disney was right when they created the Aristocats… maybe everybody wants to be a cat, or maybe we all SHOULD.