Sunday, 15 July 2012

The price of showing weakness..

 'Ask me no questions and I shall tell you no lies' 

I often wonder what is the price of being honest or showing vulnerability is ? A week back while busy with work I received a text message. A family friend had passed away from hepatitis C, his death was not unexpected as he had been unwell for sometime now but at the same time it still saddened me. I had fond memories of him as a child and my family had tried to help him fairly recently as he took a turn for the worse.

 There i stood with a dilemma, should I just continue with work as normal or tell someone? I was torn between not wanting to show weakness and 'getting on with it' or stopping and perhaps even leaving work. Ultimately I chose not to say anything, but just before finishing for the day in a moment of weakness I spoke to a colleague and mentioned it in passing. He looked suddenly serious: 'Why didn't you tell someone?'

Therein lies the rub..

What do we hope will happen in that one moment where we admit some weakness in the very structure that is our lives? Do we imagine a miracle to happen and things to suddenly become perfect? If not why tell anyone anything ? What difference will it make either way? Yet we still do so ...

Perhaps it is exhaustion of carrying the burden that is our lives or the secrets we live with. Perhaps there is something else to it entirely..this is even harder for those who suffer with medical problems

Especially for those who suffer mental health problems they suffer doubly so: they suffer the illness and the stigma.

There illness often puts them in positions of vulnerability and leads them to think (wrongly) 'my friends and family would be better without me'. Neither is right and in case of the latter there is good evidence to show the effect of suicide or thoughts of hopelessness are devastating on family and loved ones.

But I digress away from myself: what is the better approach to admit vulnerability or to hide it and save oneself from hurt?

I am really not sure : the former means being exposed to attacks and hurt. It also means denying human nature, our basic need to connect to others..the latter means being alone and suffering in silence.

What is right? I leave that to you to decide..but here are some parting thoughts first about why we should open ourselves up and not be afraid of being vulnerable:

"I will instruct my sorrows to be proud," Constance cries in a magnificent speech in Shakespeare's King John. Despite her words, there is not aristocracy of grief. Grief is a great leveler. There is no highroad out.
Courage is a first step, but simply to bear the blow bravely is not enough. Stoicism is courageous, but it is only a halfway house on the long road. It is a shield, permissible for a short time only. In the end, one has to discard shields and remain open and vulnerable. Otherwise, scar tissue will seal off the wound and no growth will follow. To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable-- open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.
-Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, 1932

Perhaps that is why I did not want to say anything. We wonder not what people will say but how what they say will make us feel. 

So here is the other
 If it is your hope never to be
Shamed before anyone
It's best to keep within your heart
Even your least affair. . . .
Let your heart bleed within itself,
Khushal, if bleed it must,
But keep your secrets well concealed
From both stranger and friend

                                         - Khushal Khan Khattak

Rest in peace.. C.I

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