Over the past year, I have developed a friendship with a woman I’ll call Sally.
In our conversation and getting to know one another, Sally began to open up and share more about herself. Recently she asked me, why am I the way I am?
Oh dear, I inquired, what do you mean?
People do not understand me, she expressed. I am a loving, hard-working person who only wants to do my best. I have to be honest though. I struggle with depression and anxiety. The demons invade my mind with: ‘I am never enough’, ‘it is time to go’, and other negative thoughts. It is intensified when I don’t take my medication, attend therapy, or use the coping skills I have learned over the years. Sometimes, I get to a point where I drink too much alcohol or dabble in drugs to take the pain away as my past traumas haunt me in my sleep. Eventually this has led to mistakes in my life that have hindered relationships, affected job performance, and other things I regret.
This was hard to hear, but it’s a story I knew all too well.
I sat with her pain for a moment and reflected back to her. Sally, I am sorry you carry the burdens of your past that are much greater than you bear some days. I’m unsure if this is assuring to you or not Sally, but I get it! It is hard! Life is hard on this earth. We all endure obstacles and hardships, some greater than others. Sally, can I share though? You are beautiful and wonderfully made! You are a gift sent from above to share your story with others. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable! We must knock down these walls to connect with others. If some do not understand or are unwilling to listen then we are meant to move on and find others who will walk with us. Life is a journey, dear friend. You do not have to walk this journey alone anymore.
Listening doesn’t come naturally for us. We hear, but we don’t truly listen to one another. To listen: takes time, energy, and the desire to want to develop a relationship with another person. At Journey of Hope, we want to create safe spaces for nonjudgemental conversation to get to know people in our community. To meet people right where they are on their journey, not when they are functioning at 100% (who ever is?). Again, it is conversation, not problem solving, imagine how transformative it could be if we truly got to know one another – to love and not to shame. Contact us on how you can be involved in the conversation. In the meantime, take notice of podcasts or books on listening and conversation. Here is a podcastI found helpful to improve my listening and conversation skills. To learn how to be vulnerable with others, Brene Brown, PhD, MSW offers helpful books, articles, and podcasts on her website.