I sat quietly at the polished round oak table deliberately milking every spoonful of the creamy clam chowder. It was my only indulgence all week, every week, for too many weeks to count. I sat alone, too focused on this unsavory routine to care.
I was a young, vibrant college student with all the potential in the world. Yet, my mind was clouded by this desire to control, even to my own detriment. My personal life had taken an unsolicited track, barreling down with no mercy. At least, my subconscious taunted me as much. I had no control of where this train brimming with precious cargo was going. What I was left with was the unnerving sensation that so much of my cargo was never to be recovered again.
At one point in my escapade to catch this speeding, looming train, I ran six miles a day. Pounding the pavement; heaving and panting, I fought back. Where the heck was I running to or better yet, away from? Everything I had to lose. Everything I could not control.
Every bite of food was a reality I fought to swallow. I found no comfort in a full, satiated belly. It reminded me of what I had lost. Life was denying me the most vital of nourishment, love. Food was irrelevant.
After each runner’s high and with each day I restricted myself, I lingered in a very misguided feeling of control. I would have the last word no matter how much my body and my psyche had to endure.
I was locking the doors to my own lonely, constricted prison cell day after day.
Grace and love came to me one day, at this beautiful table in this magnificent cafeteria. As I sipped on the last spoonfuls of the creamy broth, I felt the warmth of a body sitting next to me. A fellow nursing student, a year older, and a casual friend leaned in. The compassion in her eyes met my heart. She spoke words I was ready to hear. She confronted the elephant in the room with kindness and concern.
After she left, I sat again in silence as the truth of her words settled in my soul. The veil had been lifted. I finally began the process of letting go as I would learn to do time and time again.
There have been times in my life where I have done the same ~stuck my neck out and spoke of the elephant in the room because of this experience. She was brave, caring and wise enough to reach out to me. She helped me be well again physically, spiritually and emotionally by this one simple act of caring. I have at times felt compelled to do the same for others.
I have also learned that this may not always be helpful, but potentially hurtful. A person has to be ready to grab the lifeline and be willing to grab it from you. I continue to learn to navigate the delicate balance of wanting to help but allowing others their journey. My friend was part of my journey but I may not always be part of another’s and I am really OK with that. But, I am very content to pass on running. I think I will go for a walk instead.