I’m not sure when I learned to stop asking people to listen to me. Probably when I stopped asking my parents to listen to me and I don’t remember any exact moment in time when this happened. I don’t remember ever asking my father to listen to me. I was too frightened of him to even speak to him. But I do remember there was a time when I was very young I would try to talk to my mother. There were times when she would listen to me, at least with half an ear, but somewhere deep down I knew by her reactions towards me she wasn’t hearing me and she just didn’t care. What mattered to me certainly didn’t matter to her. It didn’t take me long to figure out that she didn’t want to be bothered.
So I basically became mute. I would hardly speak to anyone. I learned to keep hidden any hurts I had, physical or otherwise. I was mum on anything that had to do with me. I was a very shy little girl who rarely spoke.
As I started getting older this carried on. I was entrenched in this behaviour. I never gave my opinions to anyone not even if they were asked for. Even to this day I never say anything to anyone if I’m feeling ill or I have been psychically or mentally hurt in some way. (Except on this blog which is a major accomplishment for me.). I rarely talk about myself in conversations with other people. Anyway you get the idea.
At a very young age I quit asking people to listen to me because when I tried they didn’t listen anyway and for sure they didn’t hear me.
Then came therapy.
First of all I was expected to talk. This was the first obstacle in therapy for me. I am always the one in a conversation that says ‘um hum’ ‘oh yeah’ or other one and two letter words. And I will keep the conversation all about you. I will gladly listen to you but I won’t ask you to listen to me. In therapy I had to try to form whole sentences about myself. So my first conversations with the therapist was mainly just trying to have a conversation. I talked about the weather, I talked about my dogs, sometimes about my jobs. I basically talked about what I do and every so often I would throw in something personal about myself. Was she listening?
As I started to learn that my therapist wasn’t reacting badly to the few things I was saying. I was realizing she was for the most part listening to me. I started opening up more and she was still listening. I’d never had anyone listen to me like this before. It was a new experience. And by this time I felt like I had fallen for the ‘listening’ hook, line and sinker. I was ‘addicted’ to my therapist. Or so it seemed. In truth though, I am probably addicted to the listening or the attention I was receiving through the listening.
But the problem was even though she listened to me I felt she wasn’t hearing me. My therapist actually brought this to my attention early on. I kept saying to her ‘but you don’t understand’ or similar type statemants. I never felt heard as a child and I carry that with me to this day. I kept trying to get the therapist to hear me. And even if she heard me I still needed her to hear me and hear me and hear me. And hear me until I felt heard. That takes a lot of listening and hearing and patience. Until all my parts feel heard. Until all the pain feels heard.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s when the ‘whole’ healing will come. When I have felt truly and wholly heard.