Assumptions


We all do it, don’t we? Make snap judgements about situations and people. Assumptions… I guess a part of it comes from fear. Terror of being rejected, of not knowing or appreciating our worth to other people. A single mum, I had been undertaking three full-time courses (now only two), and have been flat-out between studying, managing my health and being present for my girl. I haven’t gone out to dinner or even had a coffee with friends, and have felt a little disconnected. To my amazement, when I bump into my tribe, I am greeted with hugs. They have missed me, as much as I have missed them! You have no idea what an invitation can mean to somebody; that sense of connection. Hell, even meeting to do a grocery shop together! People who value you will understand that mummy needs to bank coin. Food isn’t going to buy itself! They get that you are studying, working, surviving on little sleep or have medical appointments to manage. Don’t assume that because you haven’t been visible, that you aren’t missed or wanted. Don’t assume that somebody that has gone to ground is avoiding you. Life is cyclical. There are times when everything happens all at once, and times when the clock empties itself of commitments.

Somebody backs out of an invite to an event or meal out? Perhaps their finances are fragile, and the focus is on making rent and keeping the lights on. Somebody disappears from social media? Could it be that their world has shattered into a million pieces, and they have been buried deep? All shall be revealed come spring, when they emerge as a new being. When parts of a person wither, shrivel, hollow-out and die, it is an immensely private and deeply painful time. They can’t articulate what all this means, nor what it feels like to themselves, let alone their 900 Facebook friends. Time is a luxury that we aren’t afforded much of in this modern age.

In the olden days, a woman with a new baby would have a time of healing. A person in mourning would have a period of keening. We weren’t accessible 24/7, encouraged to show how positive we were being in the face of it all. We were able to just be, instead of do. I met a single mother I adore in the supermarket the other day, and we hugged and briefly caught up. It was a Saturday night, and she was on her way home from work. She has also gone back to University. “At the end of the year, when my studies are over, I can’t wait to catch up!” she enthused. Oh how I appreciated her words. She is in a contracting season, where her studies, her job and her girls are her entire world. It is a mere season, and she can appreciate that it’s end shall offer growth. I look forward to our catch-up, knowing that it will be worth the wait.

Never Assume.


We have all done it. Assumed that someone has the perfect marriage, family, home, career, life. Time has taught me to leave presumptions and assumptions at the door. I knew a successful couple through a charity I was involved in. The lady was the life of the party, hosting many events, always surrounded by people, a glass of champagne in  hand. I heard that she needed to go to hospital, for surgery on what they believed was cancer. “You have to go be with her, Raphie,” a little voice insisted. I told that voice that it was silly, that she would have scores of people at the hospital as she checked in. The voice wouldn’t let me be, so I put together a little pack of toiletries and magazines, and made my way to the private hospital. I had to look twice to make sure the little hunched-over  lady in the backless gown was her, sitting all alone. When she saw me, she burst into tears. She was there by herself, alright. It was then and there that I threw my presumptions regarding someone’s life into the garbage, where they belonged. The amount of times I have visited people in hospital, to have them burst into tears that somebody actually came, is astounding. We tell ourselves that we don’t want to intrude. That there will be scores of friends and family surrounding the individual. Believe me, it is often not the case.

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Through the charities I have been involved in, I have learnt that many of those folks living in freshly made  homes in brand new suburbs are under housing stress. They can’t afford electricity payments to their abode’s, let alone curtains. The necessities are bought on credit, and teeth are neglected, dentists considered  a luxury. No life is perfect, and much is hidden from public view. It is not out of deceit. Rather, pride and bravery and temerity. Not wanting to burden others with our darkness. Sometimes, it is hard to find the words to explain what we are going through. I have been through one of the darkest times of my life in the past eighteen months. I have retreated and gone to ground, been severely depressed and had months without rest. Yet I still have commitments. I have to front up to daily activities, my makeup on, dressed in fresh clothes. You bet I smile. I contain the sadness within. I don’t want it spilling out in front of unsafe people, and within the pleasantries of a social event. There have been times I have been down to my last dollar, and wondered how on earth I was going to provide the basics that week. There have been times I have been on the floor, unable to move.  There have been days when I have rocked myself on the sofa, curtains drawn. There have been times I have worked on projects for twelve hours straight, for weeks on end. When we ask if somebody is okay, we need to listen for the answer. Often its told through body language, changes in behaviour and routine. Leave your presumptions behind, and gently rap on their door. Go visit the hospital. Befriend the one who appears to have the glittering life.

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When you see me about, enjoying a festival or other event, it is because I have managed to squirrel away a little money, and have found a small pocket of time to get out and relax. My child and I need the theatre and art for our oxygen, giving us the focus to stay on track regarding our goals and dreams. It is not a perfect life. It can be immensely painful, soul-destroying and sad, like any other life. So when you see the pictures on Facebook, and read the update about a friend’s holiday, perhaps spend a moment thinking of how long they have saved, what they are needing to escape from, and what is beneath the surface. We have our own Atlantis lurking beneath the image. Be kind and be alert.