More often than not, I believe people who are undergoing a hard, difficult time in their life, just need someone who will listen to them, without trying to fix the problem. I know I do. Many times in my life would have been easier to handle if I could have found someone who would just listen to what I needed to say, at the very least pretending like they understood what I was going through. Unfortunately, the most common responses are: "You should try X, Y, Z; maybe that would fix it for you - that's what I would do!" or "This is supposed to be one of the happiest/most exciting/ best/(fill in awesome superlative here) times of your life! Why don't you just suck it up and enjoy it?!?" Neither one is very helpful, especially when all one wants (more than likely actually needs) to do is talk, and be heard.
In a previous post, I wrote about the things which I wasn't expecting in Rome and consequently made it difficult for me to adjust. To be honest, the whole trip was not what I had thought it would be, with my allotted spending money stolen from my room the first night we were there, to relationship and friendship issues finally bursting and needing to be addressed, to the theft of a backpack with things which were expensive and necessary to be replaced, to homesickness in general...needless to say, the further along the semester progressed, the more of an emotional wreck I became. Now, I fully admit that I did not handle most of it well at all, and I take full responsibility for it, but I really, really needed someone to listen, and all I got in return was "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and you are ruining it." NOT helpful, and only served to induce more bitterness on my part.
I experienced such a need for a listening ear again this summer, and into the winter, with the approach of my marriage, and the subsequent months following. Everyone was going on about how amazing it would all be, and how happy we were going to be, etc, while inside I was not so excited, experiencing doubts and general panic for reasons I could barely understand, and much guilt, for not feeling as others were saying I should. I said nothing, and such emotional turmoil as there was only grew. I tried to make myself feel as everyone seemed to be saying I ought, and only made things worse as all I ended up doing was failing - again, and again, and again. Two months into my marriage, it felt like a train wreck, and it was all my fault.
I was miserable; I needed someone to talk to, and felt as though I didn't have anyone. My husband was (and is) a good listener, but my misery was killing us both and I really needed some third party to confide in. I felt as though my single friends were jealous that I had what they wanted, and they did not, so no go there; another friend was blissful in her engagement, how could she sympathize; my Mom was so excited and happy for me, remembering her newlywed days, how could I tell her I was a failure? I didn't want to be analyzed, fixed, or told what to do, I just needed to be heard, and there was no one around to listen.
After many, many tears and days of darkness and doubt, I managed to work through it all, for the most part, and am beginning to understand where the pain started, and just how long I haven't been myself. So much of what I had been through might have been easier had there been someone who I thought would listen.
Oftentimes the greatest thing you might be able to do for a person is just listen, and love. We all want to feel like we are not alone in our trials, and a listening ear does wonders for one who thought he was out in the darkness fighting his demons alone. I know I am going to be struggling with my demons until I die, and this blog will be party to my thoughts and reactions to my battles, and you, Dear Reader, will as well. I beg your utmost patience, and a listening ear. Prayers are always appreciated; I will ask for help and advice if I need it; but mostly thank you for letting me speak without fear of castigation.