“I Will Listen” Is A Special Gift For Friend With Illness
When was the last time someone told you they didn’t understand how you felt? And then said, “but I will listen. . . “?
Within a few years of being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a friend of a friend came over and when someone mentioned my RA she said, “Oh, yeah, I know exactly how you feel! I have arthritis right here in my little pinky finger and when it gets cold outside it really hurts.” She held it up and eagerly wiggled it.
Now, I had the rheumatoid arthritis throbbing and swelling through every part of my body and could barely stand on my feet or walk more than ten feet at the time, so rather than seeing her comparison as compassion, I interpreted it as “she doesn’t have a clue how much pain I am in.”
That was nearly twenty years ago, but I have always remembered the emotional pain of the first few times when someone said they understood exactly how I felt. I quickly learned on my journey of chronic illness, no one was really interested in saying, “I will listen.” Everyone wanted to talk. Everyone wants to tell me how much they understood my pain, because they had been in pain too. They wanted to share their pain with me, instead of just offering, “I will listen.”
And I am guilty of this too. As I write this, I am recalling just last night a friend wrote on Facebook that she was panicking because her website was down. I commented that I understood the fear of at, as in 2010 mine went down for two months while the coding errors were found. I told her I hoped she didn’t have to wait that long. Although I meant this as encouragement–hey, I’ve been there, I hope it works out, don’t worry– it came across as, “You have no idea how bad it can get–and did–for me, when it happened. I suffered too.”
I love her and didn’t want her to suffer in any way–but my response was still selfish. It really was all about me, though I subconsciously tried to spin it as concern.
Have you ever done this? (I am hoping I am not alone in this!) When have you had an urge to share your story instead of just saying, “I will listen to your story–really listen”? Sometimes sharing your story can be a comfort, but do you first ask, “I had a similar situation, and It may be helpful to hear. Would you like me to share it with you? It not, that is okayl I will just listen as long as you need me to listen.”
TWEET THIS: Things TO SAY to an ill person #11 I don’t have any idea what U R feeling, but I will always listen. #iiwk12
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If you have felt alone and no one ever says, “I will listen,” you may find some strength in this song by Kelly Clarkson, “If No One Will Listen.” Beautiful. . . I think most of us have felt this way one time or another.
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