Thursday, July 15, 2010

Honesty Is the Best Poltice

There's a reason that I very rarely use the word hate. For one thing, it is so overly used that it has little impact any more. However, the greater reason I don't use the word is that there really is very little that I hate. I might dislike, loathe, abhor, disdain, etc., but I rarely hate. Hate, to me, is the extreme opposite of love, and should only be used when the absolute opposite of the depth of feeling that love engenders is felt.

That being said....

I hate pat answers. The other day a friend (on facebook) was lamenting an issue within an issue, one that included a lot of heartbreak. It was something that really, I thought, required some good compassion were any response given. Instead, the first person to respond to her post merely said, "Nothing worth doing is easy." Well... DUH! I don't know the respondant, but I wanted to reach through the screen and slap her for her lack of intelligence and insight. Instead, I muttered, "Bitch... you are lucky you didn't throw your trite crap in my direction!"

I hate, hate, hate pat answers. The gods know, I've been on the receiving end of enough of them for my vitriolic venom to be justified. I hate these phrases:

-Time heals all wounds. No it doesn't. It just plain doesn't. If you really believe that, you're deluded, possibly a sociopath, or you've somehow skated through life without being hurt.
-This too shall pass. Maybe, but so what. That doesn't lessen the impact. Just because lightening is only supposed to strike once doesn't mean it always adheres to that rule, and doesn't make it any less painful when it does.
-Try not to worry / don't worry. Impossible. If I care about something or someone, I am going to be concerned.
-I know how you feel. No you don't. You haven't got a clue. You can't know how I feel any more than I can know how you feel... any more than either of us can know how it feels to be plankton.
-Nothing worth doing is easy. Sometimes a thing worth doing is very easy. Sometimes I can work my ass off for something worthless. Regardless, this particular phrase, in my mind, is the same consideration as saying, "Sucks to be you, Dude," as you walk away eating a sandwich.

If you use these phrases, and there are others but, you see, I'm on a controlled rant just now (*cough*). If you're using these phrases, you are not helping. You're not even consoling. Yes, I'm aware that your "intentions are good," but (face it) if you're using these phrases (or any like them), your intentions are really about as heartfelt, realistic, and useful as a square bowling ball covered with honey.

I know, now you're all confused. Hey, I know how you feel, but don't worry, this too shall pass. See how horrid that sounds? You're wondering, "So... what do I say?!" Well, gee. Try speaking from your heart instead of reciting a worn phrase. That's right, try honest feeling. A couple of months ago, when my friend's twenty year old son died, all I could say was, "I am without words for this. Please know that I love you."

If you're reading this... if you're still reading this, that is... please... no more pat answers, no more trite recitations. Honest feelings only, okay? Please? If you don't know what to say, the appropriate response is, "I don't know what to say." There is nothing wrong with that. We are all blessed and cursed with The Human Condition. Like the song says, try a little tenderness.


  1. +1,000.

    And I don't mean that in a trite way AT ALL.

    Thanks for this.

  2. You are very welcome... sincerely. ;-)

  3. You know what I want to hear when something bad happens? I want my support group to say, "Man, this sucks. Life can be so shitty sometimes and I am sorry that this is happening."
    I don't want someone to make it all better, I want someone to commiserate WITH me! I don't want answers (well, not always anyway)I want down-and-out honesty.
    Like this post. Which I love.

  4. This is why you are one of my more enlightened friends, Dana!

  5. Barb Black...once again you have drawn me into your world and made me think. And I am all the better as a result. Now, regarding your post.... and a good post at that, I hear ya. I do. But I often think that people who use those easy to say, trite things are really saying "I have nothing to say and don't know what to say or how to respond so I'll just use what everyone else would say "this too shall pass." I think its a knee jerk reaction without any real thought or emotion. No thought or emotion is how we have been programmed to respond. After all, its safe and requires little if any work.

    I think that emotion, thought and work, however, is where we "connect." We connect and say (even absent the words) "I CARE." Caring is what we need more of. Thank you, Barn for caring enough to have reached out to me tonight. You really are a gem!

    Be well......



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