Coach’s Corner: Deep and True Words of Acceptance and Continuation

Greta called me in tears, so deeply sad and overwhelmed with crying that I could not understand her. I made space for her to cry (my personal belief of tears being our deepest, wordless prayers) and when she was ready to talk, she poured out her multiple frustrations of life and trying to get ahead.

Her washer / dryer broke; she bought a new used set, and it immediately broke–needing as much work done as the thing cost her to begin with. Then the person she trusted to fix her car took the money and ran.

“It will never happen, Dulcy. It never will. I’ll never make it. It is too hard. It’s too hard and too much all the time. This is how it’s always been; this is how it will always be.”

What do you say to that? In so many ways she is right. Each time she makes half a step forward, life drives her a full step back. Do I lie to make her feel better? Do I fundraise and get her the money she needs, but then she does not get the dignity of knowing she was able to do it herself? Do I regale her with story after story about the folks I know who have done it, but risk having her feel like she is failing in comparison with her peers?

I had nothing to say. I had no way to fix this for her.

I paused, knowing what I said next mattered. I remembered the times I’ve felt hopeless and realized that when I feel that way, I don’t want lies to falsely feel better, or comparison or rah-rah stories, I want to be heard.

So, I simply said, “You are the strongest person I know right now, and you will make it, but it is hard. How can I hold this space for you right now? What do you need?”

She began to cry again and spoke out all her doubts and fears and anger and frustrations, the words sometimes whipped out, sometimes soft, a lot of F bombs, and always mingled with those deep, prayerful tears. After a long time of this uninterrupted, she stopped, took a huge inhale, and said, “Okay, okay.” There was an acceptance to this moment. A sacred and beautiful liturgy that rang with the admission that so many things are out of her control, and maybe even impossible, but all would be okay.

Then I began to tear up. I realized that once again, I was the student; my coachee the teacher. How many times and ways in the last several exhausting months have I chosen to stay in anger, fatigue, or frustration at life as it has pushed back? Never persisting through and naming it and feeling it, never coming to acceptance.

Maybe you needed this, too. Maybe you needed to remember that we all hit these walls, and it is normal and what we do is hard and sometimes impossible.

I called the next day, worried about her the entire time between, and when I asked about how she was doing, she simply said, “I’m ok … it’s a new day, ya know?”

Yes, Greta, every day is new. Every day we try again, and on the days that are too much we pause, name it, cry and find that safe person who can make the space we need for our hopelessness.

Then we say the deep and true words of acceptance and continuation, “Okay, okay.”

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