I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.

4/26/2005

Colleen and the Boyfriend

I worked for a time in the Magistrate Court Clerk's office. There was a young woman working there I will call Colleen. She was smart and friendly, in her mid-twenties and was well liked. She had a boyfriend she had been living with for a couple of years.

One morning I arrived at the office and found everyone, including the supervisor, standing around looking at Colleen. She was crying. It turned out that her boyfriend had decided to dump her and move in with another girl. He had moved out the day before while she was at work and she was devastated.

We were supposed to open the office at 8:00, it was 7:40 and no one was doing anything but standing there looking helpless.

I walked over and put my arms around her and let her cry on my shoulder for a minute. Then I started talking to her. I told her I was proud of her for coming to work; she had friends there who cared about her. It was better than staying home feeling sorry for herself. I kept talking and she stopped crying. I told her that once she got over the shock, she'd realize she was much better of without a man who could be that callous. She said she knew that, but she was afraid if he came back, she'd let him. I told her no, that what she needed to do was go to Salvation Army or Goodwill and buy the biggest man's flannel shirt and the biggest work boots they had. She should get the boots a little muddy and dirty and sit them just inside her door. She should wrinkle the shirt up as if it had been worn and then toss it over the back of her sofa. And if he came back, she should tell him her new boyfriend, the construction worker, wouldn't like it at all if she let him move back in. She laughed. Someone else got her some water and some wet paper towels and she washed her face and pulled herself together and managed to work that day.

I remember that incident for two reasons. The first is I wonder how it was that the least sympathetic, least emotional person in the office(me) was the only person who attempted to comfort her. I don't have an answer, because the only person's motivation I know with any certainty is my own.
As to my motivation. I liked her. She was a nice young girl. She worked hard and learned fast and was pleasant and friendly without being saccharine and phony. I felt a certain level of sympathy for her because I know it is painful when someone you love walks away from you.

But in honesty, I did what I did more because no one else seemed to be doing anything constructive and I knew we couldn't stand there all day. My main goal was to get her back to as stable an emotional level as she could manage. Both for the sake of getting our jobs done and so I wouldn't have to deal with overwrought emotions. If I could have achieved the same end by writing Do Not Cry Anymore fifty times, I would have done that.

I know that societal standards would dictate that I should have done it because I "cared". Because my heart was touched by her pain. I know that I do not meet societal standards.
So where does that leave me? I like to think I can accept myself as I am. If I can, why am I taking apart my own behaviour to analyze why I did something? Why does it keep working it's way around in my head, as if my behaviour is something I need to fix? Am I unconsciously buying into the "you need to be nicer" attitude of the world in general that usually annoys me?

I think I just gave myself a headache.

(Oh, Colleen met another guy about 4 months after this happened. They married six months later and have a couple of kids.)

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