I used to have “terrible listener” on my Twitter profile.
It’s true. I’m not always tuned in all the way when someone tells me something. My mind can be spinning with a hundred other things if I don’t consciously slow it down and focus on what I’m being told. It takes constant practice, and though I do practice it quite often — look them in the eye, don’t move your mouth, don’t think about yourself or what you’re going to say back, just be in this moment and hear the words that are — and furthermore, aren’t — coming out of this person who is communicating with you. Sigh. I hate that I’m not a natural at it. It is my hope that through my awareness that I am not, I one day might grow into such a thing.
My only caveat is that I’m not that great at listening to myself, either, at least the part of myself that tries to take care of the rest of me. Hmmm…. Maybe I need to name her too, so she can fight off UMB for me. I’ll get on that and start actually calling on her (it’s getting crowded in here, y’all) because I was about fifteen minutes into a massage early this afternoon when I figured out the real reason for how I’d landed there.
By not listening.
I probably get, on average, only a few massages per year even though I know my body needs many more of them. But the thing is, I don’t like the realizations I’m likely to come upon while on the massage table. They almost always come with tears. There’s something about the release that comes with what feels like benevolent and maternal touch that just does me in. I crumble when I feel I cared for that way and turn very soft and vulnerable. I think that’s because when I feel it, I understand how very much I’ve missed it for so very long. But the upside is, I get opened up enough to see it really clearly. Otherwise, the grief that comes with nearly thirty-five years of motherlessness would only show itself to me in bursts that are ignited by certain songs, sayings, or pairs of shoes, like when a firecracker pops, smokes, and is then left on the ground and forgotten.
That isn’t to say woe is me. That’s to say that I oughtta know better by now and might not shudder at a tender touch if I’d learned how to be more tender with myself. Why can I not give myself the caring I need?
The shoulder issue, the one I was on the massage table for, had raised its head at the beginning of a project that was making me feel squeezed at both ends. I very much wanted to do said project, but nothing went away to make room for it, I just wedged it into a one-inch spot when it needed at least six. I’m not sure what sort of magic I expected to manifest some extra space in the day, but apparently that’s exactly what I expected, because even though I knew time was already short, I went ahead and said what I always do, “I can do it. We can make it work.”
Yep, I can. Yep, we are. Yep, I’m now in pain. Yep, I’d have done better if I’d had more compassion for myself, if I’d allowed myself to take a break from just one or two other things to make some room for this thing. I didn’t allow it. The part of myself that says yes or no wouldn’t give an audience to any other part that might raise a question.
Those things that we’re always being told we need to be and do? Forgive, be empathetic, listen, be compassionate, treat others as you’d want to be treated, have integrity — well, that teary five-minute period when I started to let go today, that opening in my thinking and my heart that was delivered by healing, nurturing hands, made me see, again, that you can’t be those things unless you’re those things to yourself first. At least not for very long. It also made me see that maybe I need to get more massages, tears be damned.
Sending lots of love and healing to y’all today.