Today I got a phone call from my friend, the one who has been struggling mightily with depression and anxiety. Her meds and therapy just do not seem to be doing what they are supposed to do anymore. Until she can get in to see her doctor, she calls me. Her anguish is raw and painful to listen to. She calls to tell me that she has failed at everything. That she will never get a job. That she will always be poor. She can’t eat. She can’t sleep.
I have always been a good listener for her. At least I thought so. But today I realized I needed to do something different. Today I chose not to challenge her beliefs. I chose not to argue with her. I chose not to give her suggestions. I let her say rotten things about herself. I did tell her that although she believed her life would always be awful, I had a different belief, that things would return to good again. I let there be silence. I told her, “Yes I know you’re scared.” I let her cry.
She said she was embarrassed that she fell apart because I had been out of town. I told her I was home now and not going anywhere. I told her to come over; that I would make her pancakes. We could do a puzzle or watch TV. We would not have to talk. And then she could go to bed in one of our spare bedrooms.
Almost immediately, I felt PEACE from her end. Like she got all the pain out. She knew that through all of her tears and ranting, I was still on the line.
She declined my offer of pancakes and a bed, and assured me that she was safe.
Then she called a few hours later to tell me that she was feeling much better. She thanked me for listening.
She is still struggling, and will probably continue to struggle until she gets in to see her doctors, but it was nice to know I could give her a moment of PEACE.
Real listening, the kind that does not offer suggestions, or cheerful platitudes, without taking on the other person’s pain is a challenge. But I did it. And it gave us both PEACE.