He sent me a note to say that he didn't want to talk with me about any of it; mostly, he said, because he wanted to be a joy in my life, not a burden. This kind of took me by surprise. For lots of reasons. But I had this feeling in my gut that it had more to do with what was going on in his marriage than it did anything else. Like he didn't want to talk with me about that part because he didn't want to dishonor his wife AND he felt some kind of apprehension about getting closer to me and further from her. My gut works well. I trust it implicitly. And, as it turned out, I was dead on.
So I sent him a message saying that I was no "fair-weather-friend" and that even his pain would not diminish the joy he brings to my world. We've been friends for a very long time. Several decades. I know this man to his core. And I know that he is one of the kindest, most considerate, passionate people I've ever met in my life. Good people, all the way around. So his trepidation was not lost on me. The note (I sent) also said it was entirely his choice. Whatever he wanted to do was A-OK with me. At the end of that note, I pasted this: (with a caption that read: "hang in there")
Not 3 minutes after I sent the email, the phone rang. I giggled the moment I saw his name on my caller ID. Took a deep breath, and answered the phone. I had a big grin on my face and a smile in my heart. I knew that no matter what he chose to tell me (or not) was more than OK. I also knew that he'd taken a pretty large step in overcoming some very hard-core control issues. Truth be told, we're two of a kind. So I get it. All of it. Anywayz....
He began by telling me about some serious skin rash he's wrestling with. And the whole time he was telling me his story, he was doing it in his usual hilarious fashion. That's how we are. We make jokes when things are too uncomfortable to deal with. Works for both of us. So, the conversation went on for a while; me listening, him talking. I gave him my full attention, without judgment or thoughts of what to say back. Just listened. When he was finally done ranting, I started giggling. I wasn't laughing at him, I was giggling at how he'd taken himself from utter angst to a place of ease. It delighted me to feel the change. I told him so.
He was silent for a moment, and then he said, "You know, you're the only person I know who can make me turn my attention to the opposite direction. Nobody else can do that. HOW DO YOU DO THAT???"
So I told him about a little "trick" I'd learned along the way. I gave him his own words back and asked him if they were in any way helping him to shift. And then I shared the trick:
It's only hard because you say it is.
You don't need to fight yourself.
You just gotta let it be...for however long it takes for "it" to lighten up a bit.
Go stand in front of a mirror.
Paste a grin on your face. Doesn't matter if it's "fake". Just do it.
And say out loud: SO WHAT! SO WHAT! SO WHAT!
Then watch what happens next.
I guarantee you're gonna start cracking up.
Before I was even finished with that last sentence, he WAS cracking up. Laughing so hard I wasn't sure he'd even heard the last of it. But he had. And when the laughter finally died down, he said, "So you're telling me to giggle instead?"
Yep. That's what I'm telling you.
Just giggle instead.