Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I know I tend to make things about me even when they're not (*cough* codependent *cough*), and I try to catch myself when I'm doing that, but here's one that really does seem to bleed the line.

When someone's going through a tough time, I'm a terrible listener.

I listen, yes. I truly empathize. Then it gets to the part where I want to fix everything. And I want to say Just the Right Thing. Instead, I just sit there and stare at you because I'm mentally composing the Right Thing to say that will make it all better. And then I'm rejecting each half-formed composition because it's not right. My hands sweat. My throat closes up. And I blurt out something like, "That really sucks!"

Sometimes "That really sucks!" works passably well. (Not so much if you're distraught over your broken Hoover.) But it feels woefully inadequate, which makes me want to try even harder to find something better to say, and need I tell you what a vicious cycle that is?

Instead, here's what I'm proposing. I'll offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for as long as you need it. Vent all your frustrations, whatever they may be. And then, rather than trying to fix the unfixable with words that never come out right, I'll match your problem to the perfect handknit item, which I will then knit it for you. Wouldn't a new pair of socks or a beer cozy go a long way toward improving anyone's outlook?

Please don't say no, because I'll have no response to that.


kara said...

i have to say i do the exact same thing. i did it today, even.


i'm kinda glad i'm not the only person who's like that. :)

Carole said...

Sometimes saying "That really sucks!" IS the absolute best thing you can say. After my Dad was diagnosed with stage-3 lung cancer and I began telling friends that my father was terminal, I got lots of "I'm so sorry" and "are you going to be ok?" and "let me know if I can do anything". I hate the sorry thing cause it makes you feel like you have to say "oh, thanks, that's ok". And the answer to "are you ok" is...duh!...um, no. And if you really want to do something thing for me, then could you fix my Dad's cancer (or whatever the crisis is)? So, when one of my friends just looked me right in the eyes and said "Wow, that really sucks!", it was so refreshing and honest and EXACTLY the right thing to say that I have never forgotten it. It's simple and actually has poignancy and was spot on. Yes, the situation sucks, thank you for recognizing that! Enough said.

So see, here you have been feeling woefully inadequate when, in fact, you might just be brilliant! Perhaps all your hesitation and silent mental composing is actually some sort of unconscious intuitive mastermind on your part and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it AT ALL.

That said, knitting something as a gesture of any sort of an expression is never a bad thing. Oooou! Maybe you could write a knitting book full of projects for different situations. Say a friend gets fired—here’s a hand knit voodoo doll of your boss! You just wrecked your car? I made you a knitted file folder for all your estimates, bills, and receipts! Hey, that divorce thing really sucks, but I knitted you a pillow with an intarsia that says “Brad is a dick!” I bet it would be a best seller!