Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Window Through Which We Look

  If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others.  

Francois duc de la Rochefoucauld

Another cold day with a prediction for snow, but it is not enough to keep me in.  Today is Women's Group at the Center, something I look forward to.  It is not the kind of group that one discloses deep secrets about self, but it is a place to talk about issues that affect us all...such as the depression many of us felt this winter when we were unable to freely get out and about.  It was somewhat comforting to know that I wasn't alone.  Speaking of being alone, I wanted to share something that happened in our Current Events group on Monday.

One thing I have noticed is that the interns who run these groups do not know how to keep them on topic. All it takes is one person to veer off, and the rest all jump on the bandwagon.  The poor intern just doesn't know how to bring them back. Of course, it is easy for me to sit back and judge.  After all, I have been running groups for years now, and, hey, in the beginning, hey, I did pretty much the same thing.  They will learn.  

Besides, although it is along the lines of my topic today--judging others--it is not really what I wanted to talk about.  I only brought it up to point out how we went from current events to the subject of loneliness. The changeover was just so swift. Someone mentioned an Atlantic City trip that was coming up, and one of the male members said, "My wife died 23 years ago.  I retired 24 years ago.  I keep myself going by staying active and doing things.  I look forward to these trips."

The woman seated next to me shared that her husband had passed away about 15 years ago talked about the loneliness she has felt then.  She talked about how difficult it has been for her since her husband died and the more she went on, the more evident it was that she had lived only for her husband and her children.  Now that he had passed and the children moved out on their own, she had nothing else in her life.  She had not prepared and had given up self for her family.  I felt so bad for her, but it happens all the time. 

So, then the group facilitator turned to me and asked  if loneliness ever came up in my life and if so, how did I handle it.  Well, before I had a chance to answer, the woman above turned to me, and, not in an unkindly way, said, "You have a husband. You have someone there for you. You wouldn't understand,"... which I responded, "Yes, I am blessed to have a husband, but that doesn't mean I cannot be lonely.  I worked for fifty years and just retired in July. I have been used to getting out and  being with others on a daily basis.  They may have only been co-workers, but I was never alone.  That's why, when I retired, I vowed that I would get out every day and do something.  But this winter has been a harsh one, and there have many days that I found myself housebound. And, yes, I do have a husband, but he has appointments he has to keep and breathing therapy 3 times a week, so yes, I do feel lonely at times."  

Of course, I kept a tone of voice that wasn't attacking in any way. I genuinely like the woman and don't want to lose her friendship. I don't even believe she realized she was judging me, and maybe she wasn't.  But, had formed an opinion about me without having all the facts...and that is judging in my book.

Lat night, I came across the following little on a Facebook site I follow about the television show 'Person of Interest." Not too long ago one of the female stars was killed off and another female character was added to the show.  There are a certain few on there who repeat the same things day after day..."Bring back Carter" or "Kill off Shaw." They don't even given the newcomer a chance and when one disagrees with them as I did, they jump all over you...even going so far as to accuse one of working for the show. I am just so sick of the negativity. Well, last night I 'unliked' the site but not until I read the following response to the 'haters' that someone had posted...

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... 

What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look. So often it is true, the something we see wrong in others is often true of ourselves.

Maybe it is not the same thing, but when I read this, it made me think about Monday and how that woman had judged me and how she thought I 'should' feel. Loneliness can come in many forms. The truth is, a person can be lonely in a room full of people. It all depends on the person.   We do ourselves a great disservice when we don't look at the entire situation and make judgments about others.


  1. Sorry that this comment is late. I have 2 readers, neither of them very good. I don't get posts in a very timely manner. I miss Google reader. I find that women tend to be very envious of other women. In this case she was jealous of both the fact you have a husband and that you were in "competition" with her for her attention seeking behavior. I hate this, and sometimes I avoid being in "groups of women" for just this reason. I am usually the focus of other women's jealousy and I have no idea why. You did the right thing, of course, but for me this would probably make me want to avoid the whole group. I think in these groups the facilitator should make sure to keep this stuff in check. Just my opinion. :)

  2. Great post, Mary, and I love that story about cleaning the windows, LOL! Very true.

  3. This is why I moved on in three weeks time and found someone to share my life with after my husband died.
    For me, life is short enough as it is to be miserable and bitter..
    The fact that Ed loved his wife of 56 years and I loved my husband of 45 years, it is a Tribute to them that we moved on with our lives. LIFE is for the living.
    Sure, at times I wish for the life I had before hubby passed, but feel very blessed for my new life.
    It's another chance for Ed and I to celebrate LIFE!


  4. This is a wonderful post, Mary! And so true. And i think women, (some, not all,) judge each other more harshly than men judge each other. I noticed it when i worked at my last job before i retired in a department of mostly women and only a couple of men. I used to, i sheepishly admit now, join in once in a blue moon. Then i gave myself a big kick in my a**, and haven't done that in years. I live your story about dirty windows. It's perfect!