I had a very interesting human exchange yesterday that wasn’t pretty, but afterwards made me think long and hard. I’m working in a retail establishment and a woman came up to the counter asking for a manager. Our policy is to first request what the matter is about before passing it on to the manager of the store. She asked if I was a manager and if I wasn’t she didn’t want to speak to me. I responded that it wasn’t necessary for her to be extremely rude. Her response was once again rude, loud, and obnoxious. She asked what I was going to do about it and I responded I would need to call the police and have her removed. Once again she became mouthy saying that her sister had cancer and was treated poorly and did I want the news station to come down. I passed her off to the sales manager because we were at an impasse.
After the woman left the counter I saw her sister who was obviously going through treatment, evidenced by the hair loss. It was clear that the woman who came to the counter was feeling overwhelming emotions and as the Buddhists discuss, she was leaking. Her emotions were too much for her small body to hold and it was oozing out of every pore. The eruption was probably a result of her powerlessness to save her sister’s life; at least that’s what I would like to believe. We all know that walking around that angry is a date with health disaster.
When I got home and reflected on the exchange I felt a deep sense of sadness for the woman who was drowning in a wave of powerlessness. Watching a loved one become increasingly sick and incapacitated is devastating. Knowing that the only thing you can offer is love, support, and compassion may feel like you’re not doing enough; but it’s a tremendous amount. You may not have the cure for the disease your loved one is facing, but if a spoonful of sugar can make the medicine go down, imagine what buckets of love can do.
I wish this woman comfort in her own journey as a caregiver. I can see that her anger wasn’t directed at me, I just happened to be in her line of fire. Illness is stressful and stress makes us do crazy things. If you’re leaking please find some support, or way to relieve the pressure building up within. It will make you a better caregiver and may improve your own health!