Listening when you need to be heard

“You are a great listener” she said. It is true, I know the value of listening but not always for the pleasure to hear. Sometimes I listen as the words clog my throat, choking me, dragging me into an abyss my placid exterior belies. I want to be there for the other person, but my need to be there for myself goes unobserved. A straight jacket encloses me – tight, threatening, suffocating.

As a caregiver, I spend much of my days listening. People need to be heard, especially those who live lives of silence with no one to hear them. The elderly have so very much to share. They are wise in the ways of the world. I love hearing them share their histories, to match the history to the person speaking it is sometimes incongruous and always insightful.

But then there are times when the words impatiently wait their turn but my voice box doesn’t work well enough to share them. I go through long stretches of time when I can’t speak my feelings. It is frustrating and anxiety producing. My lungs concave, the words lie restless and smoldering.

Some words will continue to lie unobserved. They would threaten relationships and circumstances. It is lonely and disheartening. I may smile and nod my head in approval but within I am churning. I crawl into my bed and pet my cat in mute appeal.

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