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Hidden from view

I am reminded by springtime how much is hidden from view. Buds emerge on the branches, shoots poke up through the dirt. Suddenly birds are chirping at 4 a.m. Things that seemed not to be there suddenly are.

We, too, keep our secrets although we don't necessarily allow them out into the open as readily as the seasons change. Still, sometimes there's a word, a phrase, an aroma or sound, and suddenly something we've tried hard to ignore is right there.

It's important to respect and know this about the people you interact with and about yourself. We often try to keep painful or difficult emotions and experiences quietly to ourselves, or we might repress them altogether. Who would know that the smell of Borkum Riff pipe tobacco would make me cry? Who would know that an innocent conversation with a friend brings up a terrifying memory of a deadly traffic accident? Or a friendly joke activated a long-buried anger?

Whether you are on the giving end -- and feeling awkward and baffled at an unexpected response -- or the receiving end -- and feeling overwhelmed with strong emotion by an inadvertent event or comment -- just know that these things can happen. Things that seemed not to be there suddenly are.

If this happens, first, be kind to yourself. If you can, allow the sudden appearance and just wait with it. It will eventually pass. We may just want to keep our secrets hidden again; and that may be the best way to manage it, so we will. Or we may find we've reached a moment when we are not caught quite so off our guard, that something is changing in us, that we're entering a new season where we are changing, yet again.

We all can be surprised by something that we have hidden, whether we knew it was there all along or had no idea. We live. We adapt. We make mistakes and keep on going.

Just remember, when distressing feelings suddenly emerge from hiding, begin with this: have compassion for yourself; have compassion for others.

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