At the coffee shop, she walked in behind me, the mother of the little girl my daughter runs to at class. Our daughters smile at each other and embrace. I say hello to the mom, who doesn’t respond and perhaps she didn’t hear. I seem to have a voice that doesn’t carry well. She also seemed preoccupied. I smile, longing to embrace her, as our daughter’s did; if not physically, at least emotionally.
I see you. I think.
But I feel unseen, overlooked.
I don’t feel lonely though, which is new. Normally loneliness is a constant companion, but not today. Today I carried my latte out into the little garden outside the coffee shop and watched cars go by. After that, I pulled my camera from my backpack and photographed the Ginko Biloba leaves that blanketed the street, leaving only two cleared paths just wide enough for tires to travel. On the sidewalk, I noticed a large patch of green Ginko leaves, then a large patch of yellow.
The same, but different, not touching, not embracing. The green ones gathered with the green ones. The yellow with the yellow.
Like those leaves, the moms dropping their children off to class remained separate.
Perhaps longing to embrace? Or perhaps not. If one looks online, most moms say they wish for other mom friends, but in reality it seems the opposite.
Are we all too shy or insecure? Are we sizing each other up to figure out who would make a possible pal?
I sip the latte I got at the coffee shop, made perfectly by the lady I secretly named Greta, because she looks so much like my good friend who passed away. Greta, I want to say, I miss you. I miss your laugh and your husky voice. This gal makes great coffee, but that’s her only place in my life. I miss your friendship. I miss you. I appreciate the Coffee Shop Greta though. She has a nice smile and an open demeanor that I admire. We talked about the earrings I bought for my daughter-in-law – another woman I long to know and understand.
We women are complicated, beautiful beings longing for connection and pulling away as soon as someone reaches out to us. We shy away into our books, or our phones; the safe places that hole us up and keep us from becoming whole and wholly loved.
I’ve hurt so many women in my life.
I’ve hurt and have been hurt and maybe I’m tired of hurting and hurting. Maybe I’m nearing the ready to embrace the ugly side of me and to feel the pain, move through it, and find my healing inside wounds so deep I forgot how it feels to live without them.
I sit in the garden where my daughter takes classes and big, brown oak leaves fall all around me, dancing their way to the ground below the canopy of the great tall trees that know so much and cannot speak. A squirrel picks in the grasses near where I sit, completely unconcerned with me and I write this, out in the open, in the sun – exposed. And for once, I am unconcerned with how I look to others, not even the construction workers who pass by. I simply write, because I must write, and it’s all that matters to me now.
I feel my observations are not solely my own, but rather the voices of thousands of women who have reached the point where we realize nothing outside ourselves can heal us. We must crack ourselves wide open and take inventory of what’s there. We must sit there with the stink of our experiences, until we love ourselves regardless of it, or in spite of it. Because that stink isn’t who we are.
I am not my pain.
I am not my insecurities.
I am not my teeth or skin.
I am not what I think I am when I look in the mirror.
What I AM is a spiritual being longing to be close with God. Longing to be one there, full of hope and love and peace, even when the inevitable storm arises and I brace myself against a relentless wind that threatens to blow me over and away.
This body…this vessel…this great physical distraction keeps me from opening myself up to let the Love of God pour in, to fill me up and set me free.
I’m not sure, but I think I’m not alone in this. I think a lot of women feel this way. We shy away from each other because we’re not sure we’re worthy, or interesting, or cool enough to burden others with our presence. We assume everyone else is happily busy and engaged, when most of us feel lonely and a little broken inside. Maybe this is why we wrongfully believe we’re burdens.
To the moms longing to embrace a fellow sister, keep trying. Keep smiling. Keep saying hello, no matter how many times you’re overlooked, or not heard. You may find me there one day, with a big smile on my face, ready to run to you as the little girls did today, to embrace you in a big hug, eager to hear all about what you’re up to and what sets your soul on fire.