The Reluctant Angels Among Us

Is anyone else suffering with a general sense of malaise? I definitely am and couldn’t quite put my finger on the origin. Last week I was a hermit. Little pricks became big sores in my psyche. I holed up in my office/sewing studio/guest room/art studio listening to a Louise Penny audio book while sewing fabric pieces on my watermelon quilt. I really didn’t want to be around anyone.

This may sound macabre but I may be nostalgic for the giant comma provided by the pandemic. The pandemic provided a panoply of excuses. “Can’t go to Mount Dora to visit Aunt Mary and her grandchildren? Oh well, perhaps sometime soon. Can’t work out of my non-profit office? Oh well, my laptop and cell phone will have to do. Can’t come to my house because of the virus? Oh well, maybe in a month or so.” What these “Oh wells” disguise is the fact I, and many other women I know, have been less available of late to serve as repositories for other’s emotional refuse. That part has been kind of nice.

I think there are a lot of angels in the world. Beyond cherubs, I’m actually referring to those real live people who step forward to take on emotional and/or physical responsibility for others. These kinds of angels don’t sprout wings or have halos. They are not showy and don’t need to be the focus of attention. More than likely they have been drawn to one of the helping professions- therapist, minister, social worker, or nurse. Their number one defining angel attribute is their ability to listen–with their entire selves and without judgment. They often offer good advice for addressing anxiety-invoking issues. It’s pretty easy for the beneficiaries of this attention to come down with angel addiction.

Even the self sufficient among us, if given half an opportunity, will readily dive into the angel’s amniotic fluid, languishing in their warm, nurturing, healing presence. Angels beware, however. Torn rotator cuffs and other such injuries can develop from the weight of supporting others and offering shoulders as crying platforms.

I’m thinking the pandemic converted some of these good folks into reluctant angels. They have had to contend with their own ration of refuse. There have been so many losses over the past couple of years. In my own life, people I care about died. My Uncle Bob, James Hollingshead, Bob Dutton, Harry Straight. We could not share our collective grief with others during this time. Emerging out of the pandemic, the gravity of these losses is becoming more apparent.

To All the Angels out there, reluctant or not, protect yourselves a bit more. Don’t give up the sacred space and boundaries you developed during the past year. While listening and caring are a gift, try not to be left holding the bag of someone else’s treasure trove of trash.

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Liz Kitchens

writer, blogger, creativity evangelist; latest manuscript- Be Brave. Lose the Beige! Coloring Outside the Lines After 60