Although it would have been impossible due to client confidentiality, I wish everyone I know could have been watching in an audience together, not to see me, but to see themselves.
I facilitated addictions recovery groups during my internship, but as an addictions professional hired to help people, I facilitated my first group ever last night.
I am imagining the happy, satisfied elbowing in that crowd.
“I told her that!”
“I taught her that!”
“That’s from my book!”
“Look how she put what you said and what I said together!”
“She remembered that?! I didn’t think she was listening!”
“She pooh-poohed that out of hand when I made that suggestion to her – and look how earnestly she’s suggesting it to clients!”
“Ooh! Finally, finally she’s learning to state things simply! I’ve been fussing at her for years about that.”
“I said that when I was her student years ago. She was listening? She was my teacher, but what I said meant something to her?”
“I shared that at a meeting. She thought it was valuable enough to pass on?”
I had a sense I’ve never felt before of being primarily message, not messenger. Yes, I was there. I wore my business suit, I drew while I talked, I listened silently without interrupting. When the session was over, I stared in wonder at the table, absolutely astonished that I do not improve, that I remain absolutely unaware of how tables and desks get strewn and stacked with my papers and handouts and datebook.
But as I listened, I felt as if I were part of a “we” rather than a “me.” I was our representative, I was the ear and the voice, but every piece of wisdom, every piece of knowledge, every skill, every kind and caring word you’ve given to me seemed available to me to give. All I had to do was listen, listen for where clients really were and what they really needed. People are so complex; one never knows if one has really heard or understood or been of real help. But we were present. We were present to help.
So this is a love letter to everyone who has ever helped me, intentionally or not. I can imagine the challenge of working with my terrified and angry resistance or complete withdrawal. Sigh. A person suffering that much – she’s so hard to reach. And witnessing another’s anguish is torture. But. Your care, your patience, your forbearance. Thank you. You helped me. You are with me. I will do my best to pass your goodness on.