I was in a group a week ago when one of the regular participants, a 30 something year old woman, shared with us a recent experience. She began her story with a quick recap of the how well she was doing maintaining her recovery while also working on creating a healthy self-esteem. She said she and “her man” were now renting a room from an older widowed woman. This woman in our group told us about how for the first time in a very long time she was able to start her mornings by getting up earlier than “her man” so she could sit in the front room quietly drinking a cup of coffee with her landlady. For a few minutes as she shared this part of her story she looked out the large bay windows in our meeting room talking softly with a look of what I can only describe as pure contentment.
Suddenly taking her eyes off whatever it was she saw she looked about her and explained that this quiet time was a new experience for her; she felt she could finally stop worrying about where she would be getting her next meal or even her next fix. She explained that sometimes she even cleaned up a bit around the front room as it looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in a long time. This younger woman told us that as she dusted the other older woman sat in her big recliner sharing stories of her past or what was going on with her grandchildren.
The younger woman talked of how much she enjoyed those moments even the housework as she really liked having a clean house. Suddenly she looked down at her hands folded in her lap and with furrowed brow told us that she did this until “her man” told her the older lady was taking advantage of her. She said “her man” asked her to stop being so helpful especially if she wasn’t going to be compensated for the housework. This 30 something year old woman stopped talking and looked again out the window but this time without the serenity she’d had just moments before.
I wasn’t sure how to respond to her statement so I just said the first thing that came to me, “He made that up. He made that whole part up about what your landlady is thinking. Neither of you actually know what she’s thinking or how she feels. There could be several different reasons why she hasn’t cleaned that room and none of them are necessarily about taking advantage of you.”
I said this very quietly, not really looking at this young woman but she stopped and looked expectantly at me.
Her face, for me, looked as if she’d heard something that hadn’t occurred to her before. I met her eyes with my own. I smiled. “Besides,” I said quietly, “you enjoy having coffee with her and even helping out a little, right?” She nodded, agreeing with me. Without saying anything she held my gaze searching my face for an answer only she held.
“You know, you’re right, I don’t know. Do I? And I really do like spending time with her.”
She looked away from me and again looked out the window; this time the look she’d first had when she talked about spending time with this older woman, that serenity brought on by her thoughts about this shared experience, well it came back along with a knowing smile. She had decided what she would do.
Just today during group this 30 something year old woman expressed gratitude for what she’d learned the previous week. This time she shared also that her landlady had taken a trip to Puerto Vallarta. Soon after landing in Mexico the landlady called and left a message specifically for her new female friend. The older woman wanted to let her know she had gotten to her family’s house safely and all was fine.
The young woman looked at me and smiled saying nothing more. For a long time she was quiet with a look that spoke of pure contentment. As to what that look meant I can only guess as she didn’t speak again for the rest of the group. As for what she would do with “her man’s” idea of what was going on she decided what was true and what wasn’t.
We, every one of us, make up what is going on around us. This is done daily via our amazing ability to create our reality through thought. Every time we think we know what someone else is doing and why, we’ve done that basing their story on our own experiences. We actually can’t ever really know until we’ve taken the time to sit and listen.
And if we’re really lucky we will get to spend a few minutes creating a lifetime of precious memories.
If you enjoyed this please share. If you’d like to know a little bit more about “Deep Listening” and the 3 Principles, leave me a comment.
Thank you for spending a few minutes with me.