Ok, so I've got this problem. Actually, it's just one of many. For the sake of this story, I will just focus on one. Maybe I'll save the others for a well-qualified professional therapist. Anyway, the problem is a language barrier.
See, I started learning ASL just over 2 years ago. I became conversational pretty quickly. I often think my friends only understand my sign cuz they have the spiritual gift of interpretation. That being said, I can usually make my point...and sometimes even understand others. But what about when my friend is hurting? Will I let my broken ASL be an excuse not to be supportive?!? I was in that exact situation.
I saw a friend (I'll call her Lisa for this story) crying in a situation that should have been happy and festive. I was leaving and another friend (I'll call her Christina) who rode with me was coming to get her coat from the car when we noticed Lisa crying. When I asked her what was wrong, I only understood enough to ascertain that it was about two of her relatives. Christina gave her a hug. After Christina retrieved her coat, she said she would stay and talk to her. Then I left.
Why didn't I offer to help my friend? Part of it is my broken ASL. Part of it is that I'm not particularly comfortable with those situations. I take pride in supporting my friends, usually through chauffeuring or my wacky sense of humor. I want them to feel comfortable talking to me...as long as they don't cry. I firmly believe that the true test of friendship is helping your friends when they are down. When I texted her later that night to apologize, she said she saw the concern on my face. Maybe I didn't disappoint her, but I disappointed myself cuz I didn't uphold my own standards! Even though I left her to be comforted by someone who she knows a lot better, has much better ASL, and is better with those situations, I failed. Actually, I just didn't try!!! I have a hard head and usually don't learn quickly from my mistakes. I hope I've learned this lesson though-not to let a simple language barrier stop me from being a friend!!!