Things are broken down into a million tasks, most of them financial. Things are tiny chores and large errands where I’m always surprised to make instant friends with strangers on the other end of the phone or across the desk who say, “Ah. Yeah. I’ve been there.” And that one commonality smoothes the way, makes it all bearable. People instantly understand – people who’ve been there – why I’m a little frazzled, a little annoyed, a lot pissed that I have to extricate myself from a long-standing problem that might land me in the poor house if I’m not careful. But I’ll be there in good company. I am buoyed by the been-there eye rolls and sympathetic sighs; by the stories, long and short. that are either equal to my story or worse.
When I was pregnant, I didn’t want to hear those “worse experience ever” stories. They kept me up at night and introduced new topics of fear – maladies I’ve never considered to worry about. Could that really happen to me? To my baby?
But now, I like to hear that what I’m going through is actually quite common and maybe a tad boring. It’s not front page news or even buried on page 12 of section C just under the story about bear sightings. It’s comforting to know that it could be so much worse. I could be so much more….fill in the bad thing. These stories, even the brief sympathetic sighs that speak volumes, are my bedtime fairy tales, my tuck-in-the-covers stories. I’m grateful to them.
It’s very similar to being pregnant. Once you begin to show, you join The Club. It’s not always a comfortable club to be in and the worst-case-scenario people pop up more often than you’d like, but the smiles and nods and instant camaraderie you find in public places gets you through the day, makes you feel you belong on the earth. You are seen. Acknowledged.
This is a bit like that. You join The Club. You swap stories. You don’t show, you tell. But not too much because there are still many good reasons not to air all the laundry on the line. Just the towels and sheets and maybe also the pillowcases. It’s okay for the neighbors to see those.
The underwear you dry in the house.