There’s a brand of tea I drink that has little sayings attached to them. They are always meaningful, but this one had me really thinking.
Several months ago at the beginning of the quarantine in the United States, I was invited to join a group of women for a Sunday afternoon zoom meeting. I was excited at the chance to form community.
Something a woman had mentioned resonated with me, so I went on a limb and texted her individually. She sent me very long texts planning for our future friendship and asking numerous questions about my anti inflammatory diet as she wanted to try to go down that path. She invited me to her birthday party where her extremely large family was there. I got along with them wonderfully. This new “friend” asked if I had family. I just replied, “not really” (it’s not something I broadcast as I technically have plenty of biological family, they have either rejected me for telling the family secrets or I choose to live free from the shackles of their abuse), so in these situations, I just make it seem as though my family is all out of the area and that my mom died.
So very exuberantly, this new “friend” says, “well welcome to our family. We will be your family”. I left that day elated. I felt I was going to belong to a family!!
Shortly after, her texts stopped. I kept checking in. What was once pages of texts turned into 3-4 word replies. I felt stupid. Of course her family isn’t going to just embrace me. Whatever this friend is going through, I don’t know. Maybe something I sent could have felt like the meaning was off as we have all encountered that texting feeling can be confusing if you don’t ask for clarity. Make she isn’t interested. Maybe maybe maybe.
It hurt SO much that I left the group. I’m not interested in that kind of “community”. In my final text to the group to say I was leaving, I ended my message with “take care of yourselves and each other”. I genuinely meant it as within that group of women, many had things happening in their lives where they could use help. Take care of each other. It’s so important to have compassion to not only give to a community project, but to individuals you know are struggling. That is real satisfaction for me personally.
This “friend” put in the group text when I goodbye something along the lines “I’ve been busy. You’re still my friend”. I’m busy. You deal with so much that I’ll leave you alone… and so the excuses continue. I haven’t heard from her since.
Where I say compassion will make you beautiful is that sometimes we don’t want to have compassion for those who most need it. Have you ever been one to send “thoughts and prayers”? I’ve been guilty of it and while it’s nice, it doesn’t really do much for a person in desperate need of community, genuine compassion.
Someone from my life reached out several days ago. She and I have some similar history as far as childhood trauma. It ended kind of ugly and was done, except she sent a text saying her mom had died. My compassion kicked in. Her biological mom died decades ago, but this one hurt. The mom that chose her died. She sobbed and sobbed saying, “this was the mom that chose me and she’s gone. She actually loved me”. My friend had a mom similar to mine. I cried with her as when you have no family and you genuinely get chosen, those losses hurt—a lot.
My exes mom, who I will just call “B” chose me. She died in the not so distant past. When she passed, there was no service and have no idea if there’s a place I could visit her. I did request something of hers to remember her by. I was given two very special objects of hers. One was a sleeping disc she put under her pillow for years. It hangs in one of the posts of my 4 poster bed.
When she passed, I was sick. I had a lot going on. I was sad, but I couldn’t properly grieve her. Tonight, the tears have been flowing for my friend who lost a mom who chose her and for the one that chose me. I’ve been reminiscing a lot throughout the day about how much she did for me over the years. Unfortunately, so much of it was confusing as loving kindness didn’t make much sense when I met her around 24 years ago. Even after things ended with my ex around 11 years ago, she was still loving and kind to me.
The last time I really saw her was in March of 2018. I had no place to live and only needed a place to stay for one night. She was compassionate. Despite being blind, she had put fresh sheets on her bed. She asked which side was more comfortable for me. She set out clean towels. She hugged me goodnight. She told me she loved me.
As she went to sleep, I went to her living room and cried. She was SO loving. She chose me.
Perhaps the pain of that “friend” welcoming me into her family to only disappear dashed my hopes at humanity a lot and certainly jaded me to her brand of Christianity was painful, but I also recognize it wasn’t meant to be. I left the group so I wouldn’t have to deal with that pain week in and out. It is ok.
Becoming chronically ill and generally living an atypical life of someone in my mid 40s has made me extremely compassionate. My circle is much smaller than it has ever been, but it’s solid as I know the world doesn’t have to accept me as that would make me a chameleon, a people pleaser. I’m done with that chapter of my life.
As I grieve B and for my friend who no longer has the mom who chose her and returns to the ranks of those of us rejected by our biological family, a club we never asked to belong to, I understand that we are strong. We are compassionate. We are loving and have to remember all that compassion we dole out to others, we have to look in the mirror and send it back to ourselves.
Better stop. I have a sunrise hike I want to do so I can sit and talk to B and thank her for choosing me when no one ever did in a genuine way as family as I didn’t get to thank her on this earth. I will thank her properly as the sun rises.