Something Or Nothing
“When I first met you, you were playing singles for our USTA team. I couldn't watch you play because I was afraid you were going to have a heart attack on the court,”my friend Sandie shared with me recently. "It made me anxious and I honestly didn't know how you could do it! I felt I didn't know you well enough at that time to express my concern.”
Although it is difficult to hear how worried people were about me, I am grateful for those of you who have felt comfortable enough to share with me now.
At the time my belief was that no one had anything to worry about. The more matches I win, the more clients I have, the more races I run, the more food I make, the more I volunteer , the more jokes I crack, the more assured I could be that I was fine.
But not everyone was convinced.
“Hey Sherri do you have time to grab coffee?” My teammate, Ronni asked me after practice one wintery day in 2012. Although we had been playing tennis indoors, I was cold. I had taken a long run earlier in the day (I didn’t consider tennis practice “real" exercise) and I just wanted to go home. But I liked Ronni so I agreed.
We settled in at a local coffee shop and made small talk for a bit. I was new to Ronni’s team that year, having been bumped up a level due to a strong season the year before, and we were still were getting to know each other. After some talk about tennis, our families, and work, she got down to the point of her coffee invitation.
“Sherri, I’m worried about you, actually, many of us are,” Ronni said looking at me with concern, “are you okay?”
My heart began to pound and I felt my guard start to slide up, like a privacy window in a Town Car, separating the driver from the passengers in the back.
“What do you mean? I asked defensively, pretending to adjust the lid on my coffee cup, although I had a feeling I knew exactly what she meant.
“Well,” She paused tilting her head side to side as if weighing her words carefully, “you are very thin and seem very pale,” looking at me with genuine care. Ronni was a therapist by profession and she had a gentle way about her, motherly. Had it been any other subject, her caring words might cause me to spill my guts and sob in her arms. But it wasn’t any subject, it was THE subject.
“Well, I’m under a lot of stress right now” I deflected with a tone that relayed you better back the F%*& off, “but I feel fine. there is nothing to worry about.”
Maybe it was her therapist intuition, but Ronni seemed to get my drift.
“Well, okay,” she said warily with a tone that made it clear she wasn’t buying it, “if you ever need someone to talk to I am here.”
“Thanks Ronni”, I replied sweetly, knowing if I came off defensively it might fuel her concern, “I appreciate that.” But I was pissed. You don’t even know me? Who the hell do you think you are?
I didn’t acknowledge it at the time but, a very good friend, that is who she was.