The Kindness of Strangers

There’s something to be said for the kindness of strangers.

Earlier in the year I found myself dealing with the consequences of a 10 week encounter with a narcissist. I cannot claim faith to accuracy and call it a relationship but the aftermath can be likened to wading through a quagmire of tepid feces. It was that good. On top of this, my dog fell suddenly ill with auto immune disease. The process of tests, financial draining, her fast deterioration into an ongoing illness, watching the light in her eyes dim, the energy in her limbs fail, pushed me beyond the brink of any sadness I had experienced up to this point. This is surely my year to learn some lessons, as two days before my birthday, I found out I was pregnant. To the narcissist. Bleh. Just when I thought my basket was full.

I spent my 35th birthday at work. Thankfully a place that has a few precious stars who blink at me through the darkness, let me share their radiant light, and hold my shoulders to help me get me off the floor, look me in the eyes and tell me that I’m strong when I had forgotten this was ever a word that I could apply to myself. One of these wonderful girlfriend’s of mine introduced me to her regular customer and he took a shining to me. He’s a tricky one to be booked with for an extended period of time. In general conversation he begins on a subject but doesn’t wait for a reply, barrels over the top of you, completing 32 segways and 33 subject changes by the time he takes a breath for air. He is a sweet soul but somewhat disconnected. Literal. Confused by the patchwork of social mores, the tones and rhythms of conversation. My girlfriend left the room to go and do her 20 minutes on the stage and I was alone with him. He made the observation that I looked sad and asked me why. I told him about my dog who is the closest person I have to me. I told him that nobody in the whole wide world, loves me the way she does. That she is the only person I have who would put me first. Take a bullet for me. Lay starving next to me, rather than eat my arm to save herself. That I don’t know how I would face a day, in the current climate of my world, if she were to die. That this is what I truly believed. That is how I truly felt. I’ve never been so terrified of the possibilities of my own action unto myself, should her heart stop beating.

In this moment, for just a few minutes, the customer changed. He suddenly became a friend. He engaged with me in a way many of my close friends hadn’t been able to. They once made jokes as I sat with tears running down my face, squawking about how big my tits were now. How amazing! What a coup! What a silver lining! I couldn’t even keep company with most of my own girlfriends during this time. They meant well, but I could not laugh at the situation I was in. I did not know what choice to make. I felt like an anchor of sorrow attached to a decrepit dingy, that had already been dredging the bottom of a stupid shitty pond for 7 weeks since I found out my dog was sick. How could people not be tired of my tears? I avoided dinners and celebrations. It was all too loud and overwhelming, enhancing my already hormonally enhanced anxiety. I was alone no matter where I was.

In a small room, at my place of work, this stranger looked at me, and spoke to me with such genuine love and kindness. With the innocence and well wishes of a child who understands the feeling of sadness, but doesn’t understand why it has to be a part of life. He did not seize the opportunity to overstep the mark and touch me. He did not try to take what he could get, while the getting was good. Nor did he condescend to me, or raise himself above me to give sage, unsolicited advice. His human heart spoke to mine with such compassion and truth. The likes of which I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered from a stranger before. We are pen pals now. He never fails to surprise me with the words he wraps me up in. The most comforting embrace. The most gentle tendrils of kindness permeating my every cell, to make me feel the ‘ok’ is in there somewhere. This man has been a gift to me. He is special. If someone had suggested that the kindness of a stranger whom I met at work, while I was pregnant and naked and feeling so very alone in my heart, would be the thing that would resonate with me, I would have broken at the suggestion. But he appeared. And thankfully my heart was still open enough to accept his love.

He writes to me,

‘Hang with the ones that are positive and positively reinforce you and your ideas, the ones that make you feel free… Be amazed and bedazzled by all the cool aspects of life, interact with truth and the beauty of all your skills and entirety of your shining being will beam out.

Billie the Legend can do anything and everything by looking after herself and her pals and embracing intelligence, empathy, and day after day braveness

And as I said in an earlier screed:

“take care,

sleep well…

remember to think of those that love and care for you when you lie in bed,

feel comforted in their embrace…

and you will sleep….

plus talk when you need to,

to the ones that will really listen (and not judge),

the ones that really do support you 100%”

All the best and thanks for your email esteemed buddy.”’

It’s these encounters that make me wonder “How lucky am I?” and to know that I would rather reveal myself in both sorrow and joy, than to stay hidden and let these people pass me by.

There are not enough words to give thanks to the strangers and friends, work mates and  birds flying overhead, fleeting moments of beauty, acts of kindness, that have supported me through this year. Coming out at the other end with a smile on my face is a testament to all of those people and little things that were there for me the whole time. Even when I wasn’t ready to open my eyes and see them.

  

 
* Thanks for the tattoo D.Ferguson, another kind stranger. Two words that always help me from an old friend from across the sea C.Lambert

* Image of “Big Bird Alone Under Lamplight in Central Park” by another angel of mine A.Rovedo

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FAITH. A BLAST FROM THE PAST.

Faith. A blast from the pastI found a piece of paper scrawled over with the brain zap of my 19 year old self falling in love for the first time. The first part was romantic as all hell. The usual treacle drenched musings of a teen in love. The last part made me realise that I’ve lost something important.

The first time I read it, the words sounded like someone else’s. Reading over it again I recalled those feeling from over 16 years ago. Sharp and hazy at the same time. I became aware that I held my breath as I read. I’ve always found the process of falling in love terrifying. But that very first time… I can feel that memory. Eyes open. Cheeks flushed by the cold, fast air against my face as we fell into the abyss together. Reckless. With a faith that I don’t think I ever had before or since. And today I am doing my own head in because I realize that I haven’t let go of all that pain, still harboring sadness from the actions of a boy who didn’t know what he was doing any more than I did.

It’s times like this I wonder how much damage I’m doing to myself walking into the doors at work? How many encounters can this little heart take? One after the other, with men who just by being who they are, no intent or malice, provide countless exhibits in the case against faith.

We almost got married. I was 19. I still have my wedding ring somewhere. We eloped to Rome, but I bailed 3 days before the wedding. I didn’t want to have that day without my family there. It didn’t feel right. I remember when I told him, we were sitting in the hot sun together, sweat running down the back of my calves as our legs dangled in unison over the stone blocks of ancient ruins in a park near the Colosseum. All he said was, “I feel like someone just cancelled Christmas.” His face was upturned and he squinted into the sun, before lowering his gaze to stare at the ground and take my clammy little hand in his. He was adorable. He loved me so very much.

Turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

My first love chose liquor and lies in the end. Let me travel 32 hours back to Australia alone, to have the jelly bean we made on the bottom bunk of a hostel bed in Dublin, vacuumed out of my uterus. Abortion was illegal in Ireland in January 2001. I had no option but to come home. He stayed over there to drink himself into oblivion, and didn’t come back until one year later when I said I knew he’d been banging someone else and that it was over between he and I. That slap in the face. It’s the slap in the face that reminds someone that they have something to lose. Sometimes too late.

Wasn’t too late for him. No way. I was still brimming with faith. I took him back, as you do. It didn’t work out, as it doesn’t. Took another 2 years to drown. I never long for, or mourn  the 14 year old child I could have had. I never long for, or mourn the relationship I had with him. But I long for, and mourn that faith. I don’t know how to get it back. I don’t know who is deserving of it or if I’ll ever find them. I still love that guy who saw it last. We are friends to this day, and I will always, always love him because he did the best he could, he never laid a hand on me, and he is a good person worth forgiving. We were young. We didn’t know any better. But somehow I knew this…

“I am terrified that we will sooner or later turn from each other and I will never be able to have back, or to give again, exactly what he has of me now.”

Faith….