On A Scale of 1-10

red background & coffee cup

“On a scale of 1-10, how is your heart?” My soul sister asked.

Ten being the worst, meaning seek immediate care.

“It’s at a 5 or 6 when I’m home…”

I tell her that I’m at an 8 when facing reality and driving back and forth to take care of things hours away.

I thought that was pretty good, all things considered. Two deaths in my family in two months, that’s a lot to deal with and it would be completely fine if I were at a level ten and sucking my thumb in the floor. (Hopefully not in public though.)

My friend would have been fine with that and handled me with extra care, because that’s what friends do. They put up with your messy instead of making you feel bad about it.

A ten would be legitimate when my life is pretty much on hold because I’m grieving my father and trying to take care of the business that comes with what he left behind. But, I ride the waves of grief as it comes because it’s different each day. I feel the nearness of God in such a powerful way that I know it’s going to be okay eventually.

Last Monday I was supposed to take that new job, but on Thursday I was saying goodbye to a loved one again. Right now so many questions are coming at me from so many people who love me and truly care.

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

Imagine that question and that response repeatedly; and then measure it with how you feel about hearing “Let It Go” from Frozen on repeat. Kill me now.

My “I don’t know” has to be a good enough because that’s all I’ve got right now. My bad.

Somehow my mind drifts back to when I was recovering from surgery years ago after that conversation with my friend. Like clockwork the nurse would enter the room and ask me what my pain level was on a scale of 1-10. I knew if my pain was slightly above that middle marker, right above 5, that meant it was time for more pain medication.

So, being a tough girl in a moment of recovery wasn’t a good option for managing pain. I needed that extra help to strengthen my recovery process. The goal was to be strong later, not while I was wearing an ugly, backside-showing gown and eating jello. I learned very quickly to let my nine be a painful nine, realizing that help was coming in a morphine drip of sleepy recovery to make the pain manageable.

My mom has always said, “Rest helps us to heal quicker.”

But, you can’t rest if the pain won’t let you. It requires action. Pain demands to be felt, not sedated or ignored. And with our emotional state real healing needs to hurt a little before it gets better. Ignoring the pain now only means you will be dealing with it later. Trust me, it will be much worse the second time around.

You can’t remember every detail and make rash decisions when life is on autopilot.

Life slows down and brave people let it.

A five or a six on the pain scale doesn’t mean that you are good; it means there is still something inside of your heart that needs a little attention. That’s okay.

In a coffee shop with a friend who didn’t want to hover, but cared too much to not ask, she gave me a scale to measure how my heart felt at the moment. She gave me permission to be completely aware of how my heart was coping. She didn’t need to see my strength because her love for me compelled her to ask if I was really okay.

Friday night my two of my friends did the very same thing. They friend-napped me while I had company because they were concerned that I would be too busy to take care of my heart…so they did it for me. They knew me well enough to know my life was a little too crowded and that a break would be good for me.

And here’s what friend-napping looks like:

Here’s some Mexican food and there will be ice cream later. Talk as long as you need to, or don’t. Do you need to break things? Cuss a little? This is a safe place for you. This night is all about you, what do you need? (Yes, they actually said all of this. And more.)


My very wise friend-napper told me that when we are going through trauma we only have about twenty-five percent of our heart and mind to spread around because seventy-five percent of us will be drained by our emotional state. She said that’s why I can’t spell words right now and keep forgetting stuff, and feel straight up cray cray.

Because that’s normal when life is abnormal.

You know what, I didn’t need to swear or break things on Friday. I didn’t need to talk for hours and hours about life and death. Showing up and breathing in and out is good enough with the people who really, really love you.

My little takeaway from all of this is:

If you are going through a hard time right now, give yourself that same pain scale and be honest about where you are on a scale of 1-10. Then, do whatever it takes to take care of your heart. You’re the only one who knows exactly what you need.

If you are the friend, or loved one, watching someone going through a hard time, friend-nap her. Make it all about her and give her room to be messy and all over the map emotionally without judgment. You’ll need her to return that favor later on and she will be the first responder on the scene.

The small things are the best things when love is the motivation. Life seems manageable with God at the center and good friends who are cheap therapy. Even in aftermath, I feel deep gratitude for a love that doesn’t leave you stranded or punish you for being a hot mess. Grace covers all the cracked places and it’s beautiful space to mend in.

Much love to all of you,

Jennifer Renee