Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Givin' Back

In the past, I may have mentioned that Monday's are usually my longest day of the week. And, there is a very good reason for that. You see, every Monday evening, I commit a couple of hours of my time to a community outreach program where individuals, who have a need to talk, come to do so. Freely and of their own free will. But usually, with a lot of trepidation, fear and anxiety. They are looking for somebody, anybody really, to listen to them in the hopes that they may find some kind of release or understanding of the inner demons that possess and haunt them. Most of the time, they have this sad belief that they did something to deserve the kind of misery they find themselves in. And usually, when I hear those words, it kind of puts a stranglehold on my heart. Fortunately, I'm a listener. Not a bad one, if I do say so myself. It gives me an opportunity to let these people map out where it is they want to go. If anything, I just try to be a navigator.

I learned a long time ago, in order to be a good listener, you have to take the cotton out of your ears and stick it in your mouth. Too many times, when I needed somebody to listen to me, they usually overwhelmed me with a desire to share their own life's journey. Thus, shutting me down and making me feel discounted. I figure, it takes a lot of courage for these people to recognize that they have something that they need to unburden themselves of. How long will it take for them to find that courage again if I prematurely open my yap? Experience tells me that if I jump in too soon, then the doors close. So, I wait. Patiently. I wait for them to come to what they think is an end to where they thought they were going. And then, because I listened, I would ask them a question that would push them a little further. And a little further. Maybe it was because I remembered what it was like to be sitting where they were sitting.

Last night was no different from any other Monday night. One by one they would kind of try and sneak in and blend themselves with the walls. Trying to decide whether this was the night they attempted to find somebody who could offer them a little salvation from their, often times, self imposed torment. Actually, to be honest, I am usually the one who tries to blend in with the scenery, if only because I am actually shy by nature. The one area of my life where I do not find that to be a hindrance, is on the sports field. But that is only because of my competitive nature. They sort of have an ongoing battle behind the scenes. Anyhow, that is another discussion for another time. Last night, I guess, I found myself in the right place at the right time for somebody who was aching to break free. Wearing an ID card is a dead giveaway that you are there to help. And so, when this young person came forward, accompanied by an older gentlemen about my age, I extended my hand and invited them to sit down.

Actually, I remember having seen this young woman here before. Months earlier and looking just as lost. She told me her name and introduced me to her uncle, who was visiting from out of town and was there to support her. There was no mistaking their heritage. Native Canadians. I guess I use the term Canadian too liberally but I hope you understand. Her hair was the darkest black I have ever seen and her skin held not a single crease. Her eyes too, were as black as coal, but were as empty as though the owner had vacated them for destinations unknown. Her pain enveloped her like a halo. It was so obvious. I introduced myself and said, “So, where do you want to go?”

Within minutes, she became comfortable and supported by the embrace of her uncle, spewed forth some of the venom that had long ago poisoned her blood. Even though tears freed themselves in a steady stream, she remained strong in her desire to do battle with the shadows. A good sign, I thought. When she spoke, there was no mistaking the pride she felt for herself. These are the things I look for in order to help propel somebody forward. Look for the inner strengths. She spoke freely of the things that, she felt, made her weak. Weaknesses that were handed down to her from past generations. Her uncle continued to support her encouraging her to speak. One of the things that I remember her saying was that though, she succumbed to weakness after a period of time, that she did not want to feel as though she failed. That she was worth something and wanted to continue but needed help.

This is where I bit my tongue in order to staunch the tears that were now welling up inside of my own eyes. But I couldn't. I hesitated. Just enough. But it seemed as though that hesitation was enough for her to understand, that I understood. I spoke briefly. Explaining what it is like to feel as though you were a block of the point that you have been touched by your inner child. And now, you have to re-acquaint yourself with that inner child, discarding notions of who abandoned whom. To embrace the fear of walking down endless corridors of doorways that must be opened and explored. Separating fact from fiction and coming to grips with the reality that none of this was your own doing. You were just a by-product of somebody else's collapse. There was an acknowledgement in her eyes that made me believe that she understood what needed to be done.

Before we knew it, time was coming to an end. I had to meet with the others to discuss something about finances etc. and was preparing to say my good-byes. As I headed to the back room, they followed me, seemingly reluctant to end this little tète à tète. There appeared to be some life in those dark eyes that did not exist earlier. Letting them know that there would be future opportunity's to talk, I offered them some literature to help them find other community options should it become necessary. They both thanked me for my help for which I told them that they did more for me than I did for them. We hugged and said our good byes. I felt good, elated and hopeful. That this young person would find the courage to continue to find the answers to her struggles and forge ahead to make a life for herself. Life is funny. You shut up and listen long enough, you find out that life is not as bad as we think it is. Ya just have to look in the mirror of somebody else's soul.


Natalie said...

Oh my God, Bogey. Those are the healing words the world needs to hear.
I am in the distressing state i am in, because i cannot find someone, -anyone to listen without judgement and criticism ....or their own story.

My blog is my unburdening, my eyes are also souless,right now. My demons have come for me, and also
there are so many other things trying to drag me down.
I KNOW that I am mostly a really terrific person, but sometimes I do things that are not in my best interest. I tend to self destruct. This is not self harm in a literal sense, more like a giving up on the beautiful soul that is me. I really need a wonderful person like you, to listen with your heart open and your mouth closed.
Sadly, most people do not know how to truly listen.
Thank You Bogey from the bottom of my heart.... because if one soul lifts, we all lift. Thank you.

Michelle said...

This is a beautiful post Bogey and all too true. What a wonderful thing you are able to do, gifting these people with ears that care and leaky eyes :)

smiles4u said...

I already knew you were a good listener and I do believe it's a gift that some have more than others. But, I do think that we need to be reminded of being a listener because it's a lesson that is easy to forget. When we shut our mouths with the cotten that we take out of our ears, we can actually hear what is being said. Most of the time, the person talking is not asking us to give answers but to just listen so that they can figure it all out.

I love your words..."Life is funny. You shut up and listen long enough, you find out that life is not as bad as we think it is. Ya just have to look in the mirror of somebody else's soul."

How wonderful that they have something like this where you live. We should have something like this in every city because all too often people cannot afford to pay someone to just listen.

I learned to be a good listener from experiencing it like you. There are some weeks I listen to those that need to be heard so much so, that my husband tells me I need to start charging(he's kidding of course). Some times it's really hard because I listen and I just want to fix what is hurting them but I remind myself that that is not my job. When they ask me questions or what I think then I answer.

I am so thankful that you are doing this. You have a gift my dear friend. Love & hugs to you my friend, Lori

Nancy said...

This is singly the very post I've read in a long time Bogey! I am serious. A very important post. There is much for us to learn from what you do and how you do it. You have a great big kind heart, and we love you for it.

Shammickite said...

So many people need to tell their stories and unburden their hearts, and there's never enough listeners. You are doing a fine service, both to them, and yet to yourself too. Keep doing it, you are a treasure.

James said...

It's really great that you not only open your ears but also your heart to others. That is a very brave thing to do in my oppinion.
You are the best.

Regarding your comments on my blog. I use Elements 7 which is basically the poor man's version of Photoshop tO sign my name. If you happen to have it too I'd be glad to go into more detail.

Thanks for the offer but I've been able to understand Olivier and other French visitors. I read French much better than I speak or hear it.

Ai Shiang said...

At first I thought you were going to say Mondays at the office. That sure will be long haha!

It's good that you offer your time to do something useful for the community. Besides, these days it is hard to find somebody who would listen. Everyone is minding their own business most of th time, isn't it?

Bogey said...

Natalie, not only do I hear your pain, I can feel it. Earlier, I left you a message on your blog and I hope you can take some of the advice. Never give up on God because He will never give up on you. I read this little blurb you wrote on your blog about yourself:

"Lovable nutcase who realises that life is all about learning,appreciation and love. I hope you find these things amongst the words on these pages. God Bless."

I think you may want to read them yourself from time to time and focus on the first word that you use to describe yourself; "LOVEABLE". And don't you forget it!

Thank you Michelle. Sometime it's hard and every once in awhile it feels like a little bit of life gets sucked out of you. But only for awhile. In time you become grateful and humble.

Lori, you always make me smile with your understanding, warm and loving comments. I have no doubt of what kind of a listener you are. With your life's experience, it is no wonder people are not banging on your door at all hours of the night seeking you out. I know I would be!

Thank you so much Nancy. You have made feel very special with those kind words. I think all we can do sometimes is to be a good friend to somebody who feels that hope has abandoned them. Without HOPE, life isn't worth too much now is it?

Thank you very kindly Shammie. Believe me, as I have said, there are time when I get more out of the listening than the people do out of the talking. So in my books, we both win!

James, you are making me feel bashful but I do appreciate your comments. Maybe this has been God's purpose for me all along. All I needed to do was to step back a little to see the big picure. And thanks for the tip. I will see if I can find that program and figure it out. N'est pas? Salut James!

Ai Shiang, maybe that is part of the problem. People mind their own business but in doing so, forget about their fellow man. Just a little food for thought. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing a little about yourself. It was fun.

TechnoBabe said...

What I found encouraging in your post is that the person you were guided to is a young person and she is open to finding her inner child and working to be a healthy person while she is young. So many of us did not do that until so late in years. But better late than never. Your post is warm and sincere and you don't seem shy in your writing. You sound giving.

Lori ann said...

I think you do get more Bogey, much more. Listening is an art and like Natalie said, it's hard to find someone who can do just that.
Your gift of yourself is a blessing to others and i can only imagine how grateful the people are that you share your shoulder with.
take good care,

Bogey said...

Thank you very much for your kind words and thoughts TechnoBabe. And you are absolutely correct in your thoughts about her trying to deal with this at a young age. Actually, it was something which I mentioned to her uncle. I told her that if she comes back on Monday night, that I will bring some of the poems I wrote in regards to dealing with inner child issues. I hope she follows thru on her journey.

Lori Ann, without a doubt I do get more out of these opportunity's. Whenever my brain short circuits or I begin to hear myself crying the blues too much, I am reminded that there are others still desperately trying to bandage their fragile souls. It is always a good reminder. Thank you for your always kind thoughts.

Hilary said...

What a beautiful post from a beautiful heart. There are not enough Bogeys in this world.

Anonymous said...

Authentic Bogey in this post. I will try to remember taking the cotton from my ears and putting it in my mouth. You are a blessing to others and your kindness and gentleness is so important in this harsh world.

lin said...