The other day I was gathered amongst friends and someone said to me "So, like, where have you been? Why haven't we seen you?".
I have to say, in that moment my heart sunk. I wanted to burst into tears. Truth is, on the drive over I had been wondering if someone was going to ask me that. I had this polite, respectful comment ready, but instead I snapped
"Well my dad was in the hospital for a month and a 1/2 sooo..." and walked away.
I know I shouldn't have said it, especially in that matter. I could have handled it better.
It hurts me that people think I haven't been around just because I don't feel like or it or I'm busy with work. Because yes, I was busy with work- I had three events weekend after weekend in October. The amount of time and detail that those events require is beyond words that I can express here. But work was not the reason for my absence. It's not the reason my room or car haven't been clean in 2 months. It's not the reason I have only been to the gym MAYBE once a week in the last 2 months. It's not the reason I was basically living out of my car while I jumped from work to my house to my parents house to the hospital back to work. The reason is that my dad was in the hospital, and my family needed me. I wasn't worried about anything else other than being with my family, helping my mom run errands, and doing as "okay" at work as I possibly could have done.
But I also sort of have myself to blame.
I used to use the words "I'm just so busy" an awful lot. Looking back now, I wasn't really that busy at all. Sure I've always had work, and different volunteer things I do, and spending time with family, but I had much more free time than I do now, that's for sure. I don't know if I just thought I was busy or if I felt overwhelmed and just said I was busy to avoid adding one more thing to my plate.
NOW I'm busy. The kind of busy no one really wants to be. And of course people aren't going to really understand what these past two months have been like, or how hectic they have been. I cannot expect them to fully understand.
I don't want or need pity or for anyone to say how sorry they are. Maybe this post sounds like that is what I am looking for, but it's not. I am putting my story out there to say this:
We do not know, no matter how hard we try, what the people around us are dealing with. Even our closest friends and families have struggles and anxieties that we will never understand. That's okay. We have to know that it's okay. But we can still show empathy. We can still choose our words carefully and treat others with gentleness.
This is also to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everyone who I told I was too busy when I really wasn't. I am sorry to myself for missing out on some great experiences because I thought I was too busy.
I encourage you-and me- to evaluate just how busy we are next time someone invites us to do something but we are not feeling up to it. Let's try to remember how short this life is, and if being busy is our biggest problem, we are pretty lucky. Squeeze in a lunch date with a friend, it will be worth it. Take 5 minutes to send a card to someone who needs a pick me up. Slow down in the hallway at work and actually have a conversation with a coworker instead of blowing them off. The biggest gift we have been given in this world is each other. We should start treating each other that way.