Compassion

‘There’s no quick fix. There WILL always be a next panic attack, a next day of self-harm or cloud of doubt. I started to feel I wasn’t enough for him. I couldn’t pray away the dark times.’

“There’s nothing I want more than to see his beautiful smile. But part of being in love with someone struggling with mental health is dealing with the ugly. It’s true what they say. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. But there’s also a damn dimmer switch in that tunnel too.”

‘I need to tell you something.’ He teared up. ‘How do we fix it?’ I took my sweet little girl to the car, and buckled her in. ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re perfect!’

“The schools just thought she was lazy. They would dismiss me. My sweet daughter’s personality started changing drastically. Kids were mean, teachers were hard on her. She was scared. We would try to help with homework, but she would cry and pull her hair out. One teacher actually put her outside and FORGOT about her.”

‘The self-talk has to stop. Motherhood is not sunshine and rainbows. It’s mundane many days. I lose my patience. I screw up. I have unwashed dishes in the sink, crumbs on the floor.’

“There’s guilt. Pressure. Unrealistic expectations. How many times have you lain awake going through the to-do list of tomorrow while thinking about everything you didn’t accomplish today? All of the ‘should haves’ replaying in your mind. How are we ever going to get ahead when we are stuck in the guilt of yesterday?”

‘The ambulance will be here soon. Want me to go with you?’ He was a stranger, all alone, with a bloody gash above his eyes. His friends were nowhere to be found. ‘Well, if you don’t mind.’

“‘I’ll pretend we’re dating.’ When the ambulance got there, the EMT suggested I get his number. ‘He’s cute!’ I hadn’t gotten a good look at him under all the blood and sweat. Maybe she was on to something. As they wiped away the blood, I could see his sparkling eyes.”

‘Are these seats taken?’ He smiled kindly. ‘No, ma’am.’ His wrinkled hands are bruised. His bride, in a cable knit cardigan and white Keds, sits across the aisle. It’s a full flight.’

“I opened the pretzels for my daughter as he fiddled with the slick, shiny wrapper. I couldn’t decide how quickly I should offer my help. It was clear his violently shaking hands were not able to open this bag. ‘These are not senior friendly,’ he says. I know nothing more about him, but I need him to know this.”

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