Unjudging the Judged
- May 22, 2017
You’ll know by now that I’ve got a bit of a gob. My mouth has got me into more trouble in the past than I’d care to admit to. Simply because I sometimes forget to switch the filter on. I have tried in the last few years, to just be more diplomatic in certain situations, and not to just gob off because the words are in my mouth before I’ve communicated them to my brain; after all, I was always taught “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, then say nothing”. This is not to say that I’m unkind. Far from it. I’m actually totally fucking fabulous. It’s just that I can have the tendency to be a little, erm, honest! I’d never go out of my way to upset anybody, or intentionally hurt anybody’s feelings, but sometimes, if something needs to be said, then what’s the point of keeping it in?
All of this can be quite conflicting at times, as I’m desperately mindful of raising my son Jude the right way. He’s such a sensitive little chap, and his calming personality keeps me well and truly in check, so whether it’s conscious or not, I’m just generally more ‘Jude’ these days. I learn so much from him, and wish I’d been more like him growing up. He is a boy of simple tastes and values; he gets excited at the thought of sharing a packet of sweets with a friend (I would NEVER have shared, just demolished the lot myself); he likes nothing more than a trip to the driving range or golf course with Mr Sunshine (I used to wonder if this was just about pleasing him, but it’s Dad and Son time; regardless of his original motives they both LOVE it); and he says only nice things about his peers, even if one or two of them have been unkind about him. It’s almost certainly his age, and there’s perhaps an element of eagerness to please, but he doesn’t judge. Anybody. And until recently, the same couldn’t be said about me.
Two situations spring to my mind. The first being when a friend of mine, my dear childhood friend from school, was last year diagnosed with Cancer. She had always suffered with water infections, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she told me that her cancer was of the bladder. The surgical team at Addenbrookes performed a miracle when they removed her diseased bladder, and constructed her a new one from her intestine. Her courageously confident outlook and positive mental attitude are nothing less than awe inspiring, and are unequivocally the most fundamental reason her recovery has been so successful. She is supported by a loving partner and two gorgeous babies, together with her Mum and Dad. But she also has a brother. A brother that to my knowledge, to this day, has not been in touch with her throughout her diagnosis, her operation and her recovery. She tells me “he can’t handle it. He feels awkward. He doesn’t know what to say”.
The second situation involved another beloved friend of mine. She died two days before my son’s 1st birthday, and she too had Cancer. Although she fought hard, she lost her battle after only a few short months. During her treatment, her friends and neighbours rallied; we raised funds for the Willow Foundation who’d supported her after her diagnosis; she made as many memories for her children as she was able; and she relied on the kindness of all around her to support her and her family through her last days. All, except one person. A ‘friend’ who actively avoided any kind of contact with this poor dying woman. All because she couldn’t handle it. She felt awkward. She didn’t know what to say.
Two situations with two very different outcomes. But both involving people who just couldn’t seem to get over themselves to offer words of comfort in the darkest of days. I had and have thought separately about these two people, with one singular conclusion, which I silently screamed at them: “find the words you selfish twat. Find the bloody words!” My judgement was there, laying heavy like a massive elephant in the room, basking in a pool full of treacle. How could they not be there for the people they’re supposed to love?
None of us finds it easy. Nobody knows what the right thing to say is. You just have to be there, to listen, to talk, to find the words. Don’t you? This desperately ill woman told me of her disappointment about this so called friend; she reminded me that it was she that felt awkward. She that was facing the world having lost all of her hair. She that was losing the battle against this cruel and silent killer. She that didn’t want to leave her precious children behind. She that was dying. And all the while, this other person couldn’t acknowledge one single shred of her despair.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of myself as saintly just because I don’t struggle with situations like this. I don’t always know the right words to say. I just let the words flow without worrying about engaging my brain first, hoping that they’ll bring some kind of comfort, knowing that they won’t offend, or upset no matter how few they may be. And the reason I know this is because they’re not words being spouted from my runaway gob; they’re words said with love, from the heart.
Armed with the benefit of hindsight and a whole heap of ‘Judeisms’, I’ve learned that not everyone is like me. Through what is probably no fault of their own, some people, for whatever reason (and although completely unfathomable to me) do struggle in what are thought of as awkward situations. Their knee jerk reaction is to run away or bury their heads in the sand. It’s human nature, and at one time or another, I’ve probably been guilty of it myself.
So I’m taking a leaf out of my son’s book, as well as trying to let my faith lead me. I’m trying to see only the good in people, instead of secretly and silently chastising them for what I perceive to be their shortcomings. I’m trying to understand what might be their own personal struggle, their social and emotional awkwardness, and to be completely inclusive if they should ever need a friendly ear. After all, none of us leads a blameless life, so who the hell am I to judge?
My name is Jane. Supplier of tea and sympathy (all welcome). No judgement.
NB. Since this post was written my friend has informed me that she has seen her brother. She had to place herself in his vicinity – just so he couldn’t run! Still no judgement…