what do you do when you are talking to someone and you come to the realization that you haven’t been heard?
i have been going through a lot lately and to be honest, i have been having a hard time finding joy in much right now. i have a lot of years of practice at hiding things – i can appear to be happy and most would never know the truth. but there are a few individuals that can spot my true feelings and, if they take the time to do so, will try to coax those feelings from me. last night was one of those times.
someone that has known me for more than a minute came over to talk to me last night. they commented that they haven’t seen a real smile from me in a while. initially i was reluctant to respond, but i also knew that if this person was going to take the time to notice, maybe they would take the time to listen. so as i’ve done many times over the years, i slowly let my guard down. as the tears began to fall, i began to open up.
let me explain something first….it isn’t always easy for me to tell people the things that are hidden deep within my soul. going back to when i was a small girl, i was the one expected to listen to others’ problems, but no one really did the same for me. so instead, i retreated into the special world of books and poetry. when things became especially difficult, i’d either head outside to the back yard where “my tree” was, it was in the farthest corner of the yard and it was mine. it was in plain sight of the back of the house, but everyone knew when i was under my tree, it meant i wanted to be left alone. if the weather wasn’t conducive for me to go there, i’d go to the farthest corner down in the basement for solitude. when i went there, it wasn’t always so obvious where i was and one had to really look to find me. when i was in my safe places, i could let my guard down and cry. i could talk to God in a way that only little girls could because i knew He would listen.
it has only been during certain times in my adult life that someone has come into my life and has somehow managed to read me like a book just from one look at my face. i could probably count on less than one hand the number of times that has happened. the person i was talking to last night is one of them. or so i thought.
anyhow, i began to pour out my heartache. i still left a couple of things so painful hidden only because i still haven’t figured out how i’m supposed to even talk about them. my listener was quiet, only asking questions if i paused for a long period. sometimes they didn’t say anything but waited. after sometime, my listener began to talk about only one aspect of the things that were so painful for me. and that seemed to be the main focus. i kept trying to say that that one thing was important, but there was so much more, which i’d already shared. i couldn’t seem to get the point across that there were multiple things that were causing my joy to disappear from my being. it didn’t take long for me to realize that my listener really wasn’t listening. the more i tried to steer the conversation in a different direction and put more focus on the rest of what i’d shared, the more it seemed i was not being heard. i’m glad i wasn’t asked if i felt better after talking with my listener, because i don’t know if i could have lied to this person and said i did. this was someone you just don’t do that with. so i left with the feeling of being in the same place as i was prior to the conversation.
so – i have to ask….are you really listening?