A couple of years ago I went through a training class to become a Care Giver, a person who comes alongside Care Receivers, or people in crisis. I learned how to support people going through divorce, facing a serious illness, experiencing a deep loss … and on and on.
All the strategies and techniques are connected to one primary skill: listening. Just listening. This powerful skill gives the hurting person many hours to talk through their problems and share their pain with someone who really cares. Cares enough to sit and listen for weeks and weeks.
As the pain pours out, something happens inside the Care Receiver. Her problem may not change, but she changes. Her load lightens because another person shares it. Her stress lessens because she talks it out for a solid hour every week. As this takes place, the Care Receiver begins to find resolution, consider options, and give life another try.
I’ve been thinking about this process and wondering if I could apply it to my own post-trauma life. What if I listened to myself, really listened?
So I tried it today as I was spreading mulch in my garden. I had just moved all the plants for the third time this summer. I just couldn’t leave that dirt and those plants alone. Then I listened to myself a little deeper. The garden didn’t need that much work. I could just sit by and enjoy it. So why did I feel compelled to continually “re-garden” it?
After I finished gardening, I went inside and started painting a cabinet. I’d been thinking about painting it, then suddenly I had the paint out and the cabinet began its transformation.
Then a little light bulb went off.
Something was familiar about the gardening and the painting. There was a time in my life when I gardened and painted incessantly. That was during years 1 through 6 of my PTSD ordeal. I gardened and painted so I didn’t have to think, remember, dread the day, fear the night, or cry my eyes out. Every day for six years.
With this realization, I started “listening” to the me who is still in constant motion. I asked myself to think about why this is so.
And that’s what I’m doing right now: listening, thinking, listening. This active self-awareness is a new thing. I like it.
Maybe next year my garden can grow in peace.
Is there an area of your life that needs some peace? Why not try listening?