Last week, I sat on the phone for fifteen long minutes, listening to someone close to me yell and curse. Part of it was directed at me and part of it was not. Sitting in the beautiful red leather armchair in the Ballroom, I let the flow of her words and intensity come over me, one violent wave at a time.
I knew what was happening.
I knew that the cap on a tightly sealed pressure cooker had finally popped. I knew that it was years overdue, maybe decades. I knew it had been a hard, shocking day. I knew a good thing was taking place. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I even sensed that it was an honor to be on the receiving end of this catharsis. To be the one chosen to witness it.
I listened. I stayed focused. I asked my mind not to engage and I asked my heart to stay open. I used a whole bunch of the tools I share in my work.
And it worked.
After fifteen minutes, I was able to end the call without having snapped back and without having taken any of it personally. I had been able to be a container for whatever she needed to purge. In many ways, it had been perfect.
Which is why I was so surprised by the toll this took on me.
I walked out of the Ballroom in a daze. I dove into a plate of Pad Thai as though the curly noodles could heal whatever blue-gray sticky stuff was starting to make itself at home inside of me. My mind was making all kinds of noise about “how good this had been.”
I was exhausted.
When we talked the next day, she was back to her calm self and expressed her surprise at the intensity of the moment. The conversation was easy and once again, I was glad to have been there for whatever needed to happen.
And I could still feel the cost. Awesome tools and all.
So here’s to having the tools, to using the tools, and to giving ourselves plenty of grace for the tenderness of our humanness.
Here’s to knowing that feeling things does not mean that we are not “enlightened” or where we should be.
And here’s to a nice steamy plate of Pad Thai noodles.
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