Some of you know my brother-in-law Greg is dying of cancer. It’s been a difficult three years for him and my sister, Cindy. I’m one of those dumb people who seem eternally convinced that there’s a way to fix anything, and I do my best to find it. But with this? This is a whole ‘nother can of worms. I can be there for my sister to sit with Greg while she has errands to run. I can take them dinner now and then. I snatch her away for lunch from time to time. But mostly all I can do is listen.
I wanted to be the best listener I could be, so I bought James E. Miller’s little book, The Art of Listening in a Healing Way. I opened it for the first time tonight and was stopped in my tracks with the very first words of the forward because I knew the answers to the questions.
When was the first time you felt really listened to?
Who did the listening?
What did you speak about?
How did you feel as the experience unfolded, and afterward?
Why do you think this experience stays with you through all the years?
The first time I REALLY felt listened to was when I joined a Tolkien website in 2001 when I was 50 years old. (That’s a long time to live feeling like no one’s truly heard the important things you’ve said.) The person doing the listening was my friend Kim (whom I just wrote about here). I can only guess at that conversation as it’s been so long ago, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with my being so unsure of myself on the internet AND in life in general. What I experienced as we talked was the amazing sense that perhaps what I FELT was important after all. It left me with a sense of hm… Maybe I really ought to start paying attention to what I feel and not just pooh-pooh it. Maybe I’m NOT just being a pain in the arse when I struggle with life and need to talk about it.
I know that conversation stays with me because it was the first time in my 50 years I began to have a sense of MYSELF, that I wasn’t just Drollery’s wife, Bran and Stef’s mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend. It stays with me because for the first time I understood there was more to me than just being a “human doing.”
So reading those first few lines made me wonder if other people have a clear memory of that kind of conversation. I’m unashamedly curious! What about you? Can you remember the first time YOU really felt listened to? Please share if you feel you can. 🙂 ❤
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