After my midnight thoughts last night, this morning at the jail workshop, one of the women who had been pretty quiet talked about a painful breakup she never saw coming. She asked, "But what I want to know is really, what do I do about this? How do I even start to rebuild when all I can do is cry?"
Trying not to leap out of my seat, I said to her something about what it's like to have your faith in the world shaken, to doubt the things you thought were true and have everything tainted by that mistrust. Then I told her, "Sometimes we want to make it more complicated than it is. Rebuilding trust is a long process, but you can heal, and most importantly, your tears right now--nothing more than sitting and crying and saying this is worth grieving because it hurt me badly--just crying is creating a foundation of health on which you can rebuild your life. Without those tears now, you cannot have health later. You could walk away from it all, harden with the cynicism and say, 'I'm fine,' but by allowing yourself to cry, you are honoring yourself and your pain and making the best possible future."
After which the rest of the room burst into applause and she continued to cry. I say this in part because I am a neurotic approval-seeker like the rest of the world and I was touched deeply by their response, but more so to point out the improbable connection between my own midnight neurosis and the very word a room full of women in jail needed to hear. Maybe this explains why I stake so much on the one who allows us, even in our greatest weakness, to speak lovely words to one another.