Saturday, March 30, 2013

{Listen} to me!

My two year old, Kyler, is quite a talker. It's not unusual for him to talk non-stop on a car ride until I finally have to ask him to please be quiet and rest. He wants to point out everything he sees and retells random events of the day over and over again. He needs constant affirmation and usually waits for me to repeat what he's said before he goes on with his story -  you know, just to make sure I'm not missing those crucial details!

Since I'm around this all day every day now, I can understand almost all of his chatter. My husband has a tougher time, however, and often finds himself in situations like this: 

{Kyler}: "Dada, me-yan-me-nop-nawh"
{Daddy}: "You want macaroni?"

{Kyler}:l "No, dada, me-yan-me-nop-nawh"
{Daddy}: "Um, you want a nap?

{Kyler}: "No, dada, me-yan-me-nop-nawh"

{Mama}: "He said they're being mean, stop now."
{Daddy}: "Oh."

Some of these miscommunications can be pretty hilarious, but I'm always stunned by Kyler's determination to be understood. He has repeated the same thing over and over at least half a dozen times to me until I finally realize what he's saying. Sometimes I never get it. And I feel really bad when that happens. Partially because he puts forth so much effort to be heard and partially because I know what it's like to practically shout "Listen to me!" and still not be understood. 

If you know me in real life or have visited my blog before, you're probably aware of a pretty traumatic adoption situation my husband and I experienced just over three years ago now. Actually, the whole story is way longer and more complex than what I've ever written about here, muddled with broken friendships, spiritual disillusionment, drastic career changes and several relocations. I still feel very much "in process" regarding the whole experience, but have come to believe all of life is really a state of "in process" anyway and I'm much more content with the muddled mess I find myself in than I ever could have imagined. 

Still, there have been many occassions in the past three years where I've felt I am literally screaming a plea for help, only to receive what seems to be a random  or unhelpful suggestion in response. 

{Me}: "I just don't know how to grieve. I mean how do you experience loss like this and live again?"
{Listener}: "You're doing great. Look,  you've got a great job now. It'll all work out!"


{Me}: "I feel like I just need someone to struggle through this with; I feel so isolated and alone."
{Listener}: "Maybe you could find a counselor (inherently saying, "Don't look at me, I'm not available!)"

It's worth noting that in both of these real conversations, I was either sobbing or struggling to fight back tears. I guess I know my own soul, so it's obvious to me that the cry was "Help", "Listen", "Be there". But, like with my two year old son, it didn't seem to matter how many times I repeated myself, the message just didn't come through. It was like a foreign language that the listener genuinely seemed incapable of deciphering. Unlike my son, however, I've often lost determination somewhere along the way to keep trying to get my message across. It becomes too frustrating, too hard, too disheartening never to really be heard. 

What's wrong with people?! I say that with blame, but I'm equally aware that I'm missing other people's true heart-cries all the time, too. Why can't we seem to hear what each other is really trying to say? Are we too busy trying to fix things and prepare a response? Are we just too busy? Too distracted?

I know nobody has the all the answers. The more of life I experience, the more skeptical I am of anyone who thinks they do. Life is too muddled and messy down here to think we have it all figured out. But I think an equally large part of the problem is our inability to really listen to one another. If I need Kyler's full attention, I always make him look into my eyes. However, I noticed with myself the other day that I often forget that tactic with the big people in my life! I let every possible distraction take my focus away and then give a random, unhelpful response or fake my way back into the conversation, having missed a chunk of what was just said. Which sickens me to admit since I've been so wounded myself by terrible listeners.

I desperately want to be heard. Not just heard, though, responded to. And I want to do that for others. To really hear what they are saying and be physically and emotionally available to respond to their plea, big or small. Wouldn't that be amazing? If somebody really listened?
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  1. This is often one of my biggest struggles. A lot of times its so loud inside my head that I often miss a lot of what's going on or being said around me. It's hard to find a balance between hearing what others are saying and to get others to hear what you are trying to say.

  2. so encouraging to hear you heart Noelle! thanks for sharing AND thanks for being there for me during heart breaking times! love you, Jo


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