Be. Kind. Always.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” ~ Unknown

This quote makes me think of two incidents in my past. I’m writing about them today because I want to illustrate the stark contrast in the way those around me chose to react to someone in need on these separate occasions.

When the first incident happened, I’d just finished a counseling session which had left me more emotional than I was going in. If I recall correctly, my daughter was away on her first 3-day residential school trip and I was missing her. Still, I didn’t “click” with my counselor because she made me feel like I was to blame for what was going on in my marriage. I wasn’t “assertive enough”, she said. Rarely did I feel uplifted at the end of my sessions with her and, on that particular day, she put me in guarded mode by suggesting that my then-husband was justified in withholding money from me. Needless to say, I felt relieved when the session was over and barely made it through without crying. I doubt she was even aware that I forced the smile I gave her {as she walked me out}.

Fortunately, the restroom was just outside the doors leading to the session rooms and I hurried into the temporary sanctuary. A few seconds later, a woman {client} emerged from one of the stalls and noticed me standing in front of the mirror, trying to calm down. Tears rolling down my cheeks, I held on to the sink for stability as I crumbled. “Are you okay?” She asked, concerned. I just nodded and said, “Difficult session.” She smiled at me and said, “You take care of yourself.” I nodded and said, “Thank you” before she left. I spent some time drying my tears and making sure I looked presentable before leaving the building. I felt uplifted because the woman took the time to reach out to me. Just knowing that someone cared enough to ask if I was okay meant the world to me; I was in a place where I didn’t have many allies in my proximity. It would have been nice to get to know her after that brief interaction, but perhaps her circumstances prevented her from doing any more than she did. Maybe she needed to reach out as much as I needed her to.

The second incident took place during one of the worst days I’d experienced during the divorce process; much to my relief, it was the last time {the 11th!} I had to attend a hearing associated with the divorce. So much went wrong that day, so when the judge declared a recess to consider his decision, the first place I went was my local church which wasn’t too far away. I felt safe within the sanctity of God’s home and sat in a pew after lighting a candle. There were a lot of people in the church that day, considering there was no mass taking place. As I was praying, I cried while I asked for strength, protection, and a fair decision. I’m pretty sure people knew I was crying; I wasn’t loud, but I wasn’t exactly hiding it. For the 30 minutes I was in that pew, nobody approached me to see if I was okay. I  could have been suicidal, for all anyone knew; what if my decision to do it hinged upon whether anyone reached out to help me? I have never been suicidal, but I still needed to believe that someone in that church cared enough to reach out to me. Did they think that doing so would mean having to get “involved” in my problems? Was everyone waiting for “someone else” to step in?

I certainly didn’t expect anyone to take on the responsibility of “fixing” things for me. I think that help comes in many forms, but it never has to mean doing more than we can handle. If one of those people had come to sit next to me in the pew and simply taken hold of my hand without saying anything, it would have been enough. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to reach out. It’s not an imposition or an intrusion into personal space. It takes a few seconds to say, “Are you okay? Do you need help?”  It can mean the difference between life and death.


15 thoughts on “Be. Kind. Always.

  1. I’m sorry she made you feel that way. Your assertiveness is your own. Your choices are your own. I am currently studying to become a counselor and our role is not to place our “biased opinions” into “your” session. You should feel a sense of being heard and your feelings, on any subject, acknowledged.
    It is sad how disassociated our world is today. We, as human beings, need to take better care to notice and help when someone is in need. Even if it’s as simple as “are you okay”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for dropping by and for your comment.

      The counselor clearly didn’t understand her role in counseling situations. If I finished a stream of thought, she would sit there, waiting for me to start talking again, even if there were long awkward silences. I even told her once that I didn’t know what else to say and she asked me why. I have had counselors since her who have questioned her ability because, first and foremost, they couldn’t believe she didn’t use our sessions to assess the severity of the abuse I was suffering and put me in touch with the relevant agencies.

      I agree with what you said about disassociation and taking better care to notice and help. I think it’s particularly important in today’s world when so many rely on anti-depressants to get them through the day. I have had experience with that sort of medication (not me, but my daughter) and I know all about side effects if someone takes the wrong medicine for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My situation has improved but still challenging. I take a day at a time and I’m so much better at self-care. 🙂

        I’ve followed your blog and invite you to follow me, if you haven’t already.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Might I direct you to another blog I have about self-care? It’s kinda new, but I do plan to post there regularly. 🙂

        You can find it by clicking “Illusory Calm” in my “Read Me Elsewhere” Links. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. True! Nicely written! I think, for me (at least), it would have been easier to ask someone if they are ok in a bathroom situation. In a church setting, I would feel like I was intruding on your private time…if you were a stranger to me…but I would like to think that I would have sent out a quick prayer for comfort for you. But then again I am a bit of a chicken about life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another possibility would have been someone going to alert one of the priests. There was no mass going on when I was there, but there was usually a priest on hand, hearing confessions or doing preparations for upcoming events. There is always a course of action, even if it’s not a direct one.

      It just makes me wonder how many people actually are suicidal and go through with it because those around them don’t reach out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Getting someone to help might have been a course of action I would have chosen too.

        At our church we have a thing we say often that is ‘you don’t know the other person’s story’…although you may have been hurting that day…you don’t know the other people’s story as to why they didn’t reach out to comfort you. We are always so quick to judge…without knowing the whole story.

        But it is true…you never know how your actions affect someone else…you hear stories of how someone was thinking of suicide but because of one person’s smile or saying hello changed their mind. I think we need to make an effort to be aware of those opportunities…cause you never know.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It could be an intuitive thing to respond to not. I was riding on the bike trail the other day when I could see I was approaching a guy crouched over something…I couldn’t tell. As I got closer I asked him, “Do you need any help?” By that time I could see he was shielding his puppy perhaps because it was unaccustomed to strangers…I don’t know. The guy mumbled a, “No,” and I continued on. On another occasion when I on an evening walk, near a park, I saw a young girl sitting on a swing, her cell phone in her lap, and crying. I assessed the situation, chose to respect her teenage privacy, and walked on. Who’s to know?? Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It could be an intuitive thing. I guess part of it for me is thinking, “What if it were my child/friend/relative who needed someone to reach out and they didn’t get the help?” I would like to think that someone would step in if I couldn’t be around to do so.

      Thanks for offering your insight!


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