It all started when I was preparing to just give up on everything; things were looking really bleak. I had no job, no boyfriend, no savings and I was sure I was about to fall sick too. The only thing that seemed like a possibility to me was sitting on a lonely bench at the park and cry my heart out. Tell me, do you really blame me, if I said all I wanted to do is sit down and cry?
I wanted to scream, rave and rant and look upwards and say “I want to cry, will you please tell me how to stop?” When the thought came to me, I did just that. Surprisingly, it worked and somebody did come to me and told me how to stop!
Let me start at the beginning. There I was feeling desolate, sad, and frankly speaking full of self-pity. I had just finished asking my question to the heavens, when I saw this old man coming towards me. “Oh no!” I thought to myself “Now I have to sit and make small talk with this old fogey.” However, to my surprise all the old man did was sit next to me, give me a smile, and said, “Go ahead, cry and let it all out.”
I wanted to be rude and tell him to mind his own business, but something about his kind eyes, his understanding smile, and the overall grandfatherly air made me pause. I tried to stifle my tears but found them overflowing in spite of my best efforts. He just sat there saying nothing. He would reach out and timidly pat my hand occasionally. After awhile my tears ceased and I looked up at him with an awkward glance only to find him handing over an old-fashioned handkerchief to me. I hesitated before taking it, but it seemed so right that I took it, muttered thanks, and proceeded to mop up my tears.
Once I was a bit composed, the old man looked at me and said “Miss, if you don’t mind, can you tell me what is bothering you. I may not be able to help but sometimes talking to a stranger helps.” My first reaction was to snub him and walk away but on second thoughts, there seemed no harm in doing this, so I related my sorry tale. I told him that my boyfriend had broken up with me because I had lost my job and as we worked in the same company, it would reflect badly on him if he were seen with me. I also told him that I had not much in the way of savings. I ended my sorry tale with a pathetic “I really don’t know what to do except sit and cry.”
The old man said some things that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I do not remember the exact words, but here is a summary of what he said:
Have a good cry: This according to him was a good way of cleansing yourself of the negative feelings. However, he said that while tears where good, self-pity was not so I should not go too far in doing this.
Talk to somebody objective: While family, friends and relatives have nothing but good intentions, it is best not to share your burdens with them when you are in a highly emotional state. They will either be angry with you or angry for you, both of which are of no use. That is why talking to someone not involved in the matter, helps.
Analyze whether losing the things you did is really a loss: When he said these words, I knew that losing my boyfriend was not a big loss. Who leaves a loved one just because he or she is afraid of what it will look like? Once I thought about the whole breakup from this point of view, I felt much better about the breakup. Next, I started thinking about the job; while losing a job is not a good thing, one has to look at it objectively. The more I thought about it, the more I knew that I was not a good fit for the job and neither was the job one that I wanted.
Take stock: Once I had gotten to this point, the old man urged me to grab a piece of paper and write down things that were positive and also make a list of negative things. I felt silly doing this but once I started putting things on paper, I found that I really had many things to be positive about. I had friends who would provide me free accommodation, I had parents who would float me a loan till I got back on my feet and there were some areas of interest that could be made into earning opportunities.
Get some closure: He said I would not be able to move forward as long as a part of me was still stuck in the past. To do this, I had to settle certain things and talk to people to let them know what I really felt. The first thing I did was talk to my boyfriend and tell him what I felt about him and that what he had done was a lousy thing to do and that I was glad we had broken up. The one thing that I regretted was that I was not the one who broke up with him. Once I did that, I felt pounds lighter.
Taking the first step is not easy but it has to be done: This part, according to the old man was the toughest thing to do but he said I should start with tiny steps. The one thing he cautioned me was on never looking back. He said it is not easy to do but one needs to do it. Once I talked to friends and family about what happened and sought their help after telling them about my plans to start a course on cookery, things were a bit better.
Now I know that if I want to cry, it is okay to do so as long as the tears are cleansing and not steeped in negativity and pessimism. Today my life is not perfect but it is a fulfilling and happy one, thanks to all the lessons I learned in the park that day. I also learned that how one act of kindness has the power to transform your life.