Sometimes life is hard. Really hard. Sometimes we struggle. When I am experiencing a season of pain, when life is hard, I need you to meet me where I’m at.
Just meet me where I am at. Don’t try to change me. Don’t give me advice. Don’t try to fix me. Don’t try to swoop in and save the day. Just sit with me, in my pain. I know it’s uncomfortable, I know it’s hard, but what I really need is for you to simply meet me where I’m at.
Meet me where I’m at. I know you may want to make it all better, but sometimes the pain, the loss, the fear, the sadness, is so big that there isn’t a quick fix. What I need is for you to simply be with me.
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I don’t want you to say “oh, you poor thing.” I don’t want you to try to put a silver lining around whatever I am struggling with. I don’t want you to say, “it will get better.” I want you to be with me, where I’m at. Sit with me in silence. Sit with me in tears. Sit with me and listen to my fears. Sit with me and say, “that sucks.”
Listen to me. Listen to my story without trying to insert your own.
Don’t tell me I shouldn’t feel this way. These are my feelings, and they are real. Even if they seem irrational, it is still my truth in that moment. Please don’t deny or dismiss my feelings because they don’t make sense to you.
This just plants more seeds of self-doubt, and just makes my pain stronger. Just meet me where I’m at, feelings and all.
Empathy and Vulnerability
This writer could be anyone. It could be your best friend, your co-worker or a treasured family member. Whatever the case, the plea from the writer is to simply be with them, feel their truth and accept their truth. The writer is asking for empathy.
Empathy is tough. Tougher than we may think, especially when it’s someone we care about who is experiencing true pain because imagining that pain makes us vulnerable. too. And being vulnerable is not easy for many of us, because it is a risk.
When we are vulnerable, we are opening ourselves up to the risk of feeling pain, too.
But being vulnerable is also about taking that risk to be open to love, to showing love and to being loved. Sympathy is easier for many of us because we simply feel for someone, rather than feeling with someone and don’t have to be vulnerable ourselves.
But those hurting do not need sympathy, nor is that what they want. They need empathy, they need you to “meet them where they are.”
So be vulnerable for those who need you most, be open to showing love, to being empathetic, to being with someone and accepting them without judgment.
Nicole Ball is a social work professor at Ferris State University, a clinical mental health therapist and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling, a holistic mental health center in Traverse City. Learn more at www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com