Monday, February 12, 2007

Just Listen

"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

I am "on call" three days a week, (finally got out in the field to do home visits the past two weeks! *does the happy dance*). But no matter which job of the two I do, the very most important part of either, is listening.

Of the multitude of calls I dealt with today, the best ones, the calls in which I felt success at the end of the day, were the ones I remembered to listen first, and listen last.

Often that is really all many callers need, someone to listen. The heartbreaking calls almost always have tears hidden in them somewhere, and once the caller realizes that I am listening, many will allow those tears to fall.

A woman called me today, only a few years younger than I, she has been struck down by a musculoskeletal chronic pain illness, illness affecting close to 7% of our population, the majority of which are women. A very often debilitating illness, a mysterious illness, one that plays havoc with many women's lives, the lives of their husbands, their children, their families. Those afflicted, never know when they will have a wonderful feel-good day, or if they will wake up tomorrow and not even have the ability to crawl out of bed. It seems to strike each person in a slightly different way, relief for one, does not always work for another.

My caller. She called today seeking help. Sadly, after 45 minutes on the phone, we both finally realized that there were very few options available to her, the middle-aged disabled fall through the cracks in our current health care system. Toward the end of conversation, I asked her one simple question......"What is the one thing you need the most?"

Her answer surprised her, she said, "Someone to come in and help me maintain my home."

I asked, "How often?"

Silence, as she thought for a long moment, finally in a quiet voice, replying, "One day per month?"

I said nothing, I waited, I listened.

With a tiny hint of vitality in her voice, she said, "I can do this, we (she and her husband) can do this!" "Thank you!"

She thanked me, me! Why? I did nothing, I had no answers, nor could I find a solution for her. She just needed someone not involved in her daily life, not involved in taking care of her to listen. Just listen.

Her call to me, was a way for her to take a more objective view of her changed life. It has not a pleasant change....far far from it...... it is an illness that has robbed her of who she was/is. What did she need? She needed to feel as if she is not completely useless....that she is not just her illness.

She needed to realize that she is still needed, still capable, still human. Not a disease, not a weak person. She is just her, bad days and good days, still her.

I love my job, there are days when it is very difficult to listen, there are days that if I did not see the humorous twist to some of the stories I hear, that I would cry instead. There are days in which all I want to do is give someone a hug, there are also days when if I were a violent person, I would want to give someone a slap and yell, "WAKE THE HELL UP!".

Most days though, most days, I am just happy to listen. Hoping, no, knowing........that I too have people in my life who.......Just Listen.


Jonas said...

OK. This clinches it. You are a marvelous human being!

Sunny Delight said...

No Jonas, I am far far from that, I just do my job, a job that I love, a job that gives me pleasure, one that I seem to be fairly good at.

And it keeps my eyes open, allows me to be thankful for what I have in my life.