Group Therapy Thursday: Week Four
Wow! Can you believe this is our last group therapy day? I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown quite fond of our weekly meet-ups. You’ve all been such a source of comfort and strength to each other, and to me. I will miss our time together here. But….it’s not over yet, so let’s get started with this week’s update!
This week we had two options to choose from. The first one was to Pay It Forward or in simpler terms: do a random act of kindness for another person.
The second option was to treat yourself to something special, especially if you tend to over-extend yourself to other people on a regular basis.
This was a very sad and stressful week for me. My grandmother died, and at the last moment I was unable to leave for the eight hour drive to attend her funeral. My husband became ill the night before we were to leave, and the morning of our scheduled departure, I rushed Emmie to the vet only to learn that she was very sick with Hookworm. I spent the week tending to husband and dog while continuing to work, while my mind and heart were in Kentucky with my mother and family. I was feeling too depressed to commit myself to my exercise and spent the week wondering what on earth I was going to write about when Thursday came around. Before I knew it, Wednesday was here and I couldn’t even think about doing a good deed for someone, much less do something for myself. I had a long list of both personal and work-related errands that I’d been putting off all week that could not be ignored any longer. By 8:30 AM I put on my coat and scarf and checked to see if my black cloud had decided to come along and keep me company.
Me and You, we’re stuck like glue, it whispered.
Well then, I thought. Let’s go and get this over with.
My first few stops were pretty uneventful. I’m quite sure that I had a sour look on my face, very sure that I had defined dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep, and to top off my haggard look- had my hair stuffed under a ball cap. Me and the public had an unspoken understanding. I left them alone and they left me alone.
But then, something unexpected happened. I was at my last stop of the day: Panera Bread. I was there to pick up some soup for my employer’s lunch and the place was packed – at least 10 people were in front of me. And as I stood there silent, impatient, tired and frazzled, the woman in front of me turned to face me and said, ‘You are wearing such a pretty scarf. It looks so nice on you. Did you make it?’ I looked at her, stunned for a moment. I was sure that my I need my space face was still very much present. But then, I smiled – a genuine smile, and looked down at the scarf I’d made years ago. You realize what’s happening here, don’t you, Ellen? I thought. You are being given a random act of kindness. I looked back at this woman who was still gazing at me with a smile and said, ‘Thank you. I did make it, many years ago. It was one of the very first things I’d ever crocheted.’
We chatted while waiting in line to order, and by the time I left the restaurant, soup in hand – I felt….different. Better. The cloud had thinned out a bit and I was a little closer to feeling like ‘me’ again.
Even though I didn’t officially complete my exercise for the week, I couldn’t have come up with a more fitting example of how good it feels to do or say something nice to someone unexpectedly. The only difference is that I was supposed to be writing about how it made me feel as the giver, not the receiver. And as I write this today, the one thing I find interesting is that when I was giving examples about this week’s exercise on Monday I wrote:
Can you remember a day when a perfect stranger passed you by and stopped long enough to say how much they admired your scarf? Your hair? Your smile? Think about how that simple gesture made you feel. Perhaps you walked a little taller, a little prouder that day.
She admired my scarf, and I felt better. That’s all it took.
And actually, I think I did walk a bit taller for the rest of the day.
I want to thank each and every one of you for leaving me a note of condolence. You weren’t even aware of it, but you produced your own random act of kindness with your kind words. They helped me through a very rough week. I’m terribly lucky.
Have a great session today, everyone.