Do you have a good poker face? One that keeps people guessing? Some people are indeterminable, their expressions so blank you’re not entirely sure they’re breathing.
I’ve tried having such a poker face, but alas, I have failed. Even when I think I’m doing my best version of a poker face, my face decides otherwise. That’s why it was so funny to me when I had a conversation with a dear friend this week, and it went something like this…
Me: Blah blah blah, I have to talk to you about this thing, blah di blah. It’s been on my mind a long time, but I’ve been nervous to talk to you about it.
Friend: It’s about time.
Friend: (Trying not to look smug) Yeah. I’ve known there was something bugging you for a while but there just hasn’t been a good chance to really get into it.
She knew already, or at least had an inkling about it. She could tell, even though I thought I was keeping a straight face and not letting on. I wasn’t trying to lie to her; I was simply trying to say nothing in either direction. But it was no use.
She was listening without me even talking.
It was more than my friend having a feeling that something was on my mind. She stayed with me, hung in there, even when I wasn’t ready to talk about it. Then once I was ready to talk about it…
She let me talk and didn’t jump to conclusions about what I was saying. She asked questions so she’d understand what I meant. She gave me room to look for the right word and waited for me to find my way through a sentence.
…she listened, and though she didn’t know it, she underlined yet another proof of why we’ve been friends for almost 20 years. Her choice of response, one of grace and warmth, exemplified what I feared I would NOT receive from many people. This happy reaffirmation of her wonderfulness came on a topic I’ve held carefully to myself in fears that it would create a rift between us, and that there — well, that’s the clearest proof of the love of a friend that I can think of.