Tuesday, October 09, 2007

light behind the black clouds.

Whenever I feel like I've heard it all, I meet someone new whose story strikes that thought down with a bolt of lightening. It happened again today. I was caught holding my breath listening to a woman pour out her story which included events and details I had never heard before.........painful sob catching admissions which has left her with acquired shame and disgust. These feelings had numbed her into a submissive relationship which until recently seemed like a life sentence. The numbness didn't happen overnight. It was a gradual accumulation, starting with the shutting of the mind and heart and working it's way out into the limbs.

Now? Though she still feels these deeply, she knows that there may be a day when she can lift that black cloak of shame and guilt, drop it on the floor and walk away from it. Her life sentence eternity was wracked with such pain. She spoke of how the shame scraped at her spirit, how the knowledge she carries with her punched holes in her soul which left her feeling physical pain. She then turned to Dilaudid to eliminate it and was hooked on this powerful drug of choice within a couple of weeks. But, she has escaped the clutches. Her personal baggage is buldging at the seams, weighted down with sharpe craggy rocks. But, she's broken free of the life sentence, and she can inhale her new freedom..........scared, scarred........but basically in one piece.

Sometimes we search for something which replaces the pain with ecstacy.......our numbness turns into a peaked feeling of pleasure. Escape.......even for a short period of time is sought with obsessive salivation. Drugs do this. Sex can do this. Violence can even do this. Heart pain goes away when one cuts through skin somewhere on the body. If one can't physically run away, one will find a way to mentally run away. If one is numb, one will seek something which will heighten the senses..........sanctity through self indulgent pleasure in order to FEEL comfort.........in order to FEEL escape...........in order to FEEL a spiritual connection however fleeting.

I couldnt help myself today.............my eyes filled with tears as I listened, as I passed her the box of kleenex. It doesn't happen very often.........usually I am able to keep focused on the counselling, still feeling but focused on taking the person through their own journey and not adding my reaction to the mix. But today, what I heard struck a chord in me which started my own tears. I had no words..........nothing that could strip away the past. Instead of using any counselling techniques in my little professional toolbox, I moved closer and held onto her like a friend......like a Mom. I found myself rocking her.......a Mom rocking another Mom and I wondered when was the last time she had felt an unconditional rocking hug...............maybe never. Who knows? What I do know was that as I was hugging her, I could feel her relax into her deep emotions.......I could feel her pass some of it on......letting it drop onto the floor. Part of that black cloak shed. It was a beginning. She shared her deepest most sorrowful secret and I wanted to respond to her with my own honesty. I wanted her to know that is was such a good thing to have shared it.............in a place where there would be no commentary.

We spent almost two hours together this morning............alone in my little office, surrounded by others on the other side of the walls who were working away in theirs oblivious to the pain and honesty being shared by this brave but bruised woman. It was a draining, challenging, fulfilling, helpful, enlightening, growing, showing, important two hours. Neither of us will forget what was shared. Neither of us will forget how close we became during that time when all barriers fell, when two human beings met on a precipice of disclosure to release the shackled shame.

After we made arrangements to meet again, and after I walked her to the exit.......... I was left with an emptiness from feeling drained and bewildered by the intensity of the connection. I was also left with the realization that counselling keeps life real. It keeps me real. Counselling is my vehicle for lifelong learning.


Robert said...

tears falling from the power of this encounter and seeing that you were jesus to this woman dana a hug communicates so much I hope you are kept real alot more as you carry on in your counseling your a beautiful soul and you nourish all who come in contact with you

Awareness said...

Hi Robert.

Don't know if I was Jesus....quite a daunting thought to me. I guess we all just need to do our best to be present for others, especially someone who is feeling so wounded.

Sometimes words seem so empty though. Silence in the here and now is a powerful connector. I do love the counselling aspect of my job, and I don't know if I will be able to continue with it once I find another job......what will be will be I guess. No matter what, counselling is where I am at my best and will try to pursue it whereever I end up.

Gypsy said...

I was glad to read you say to Robert that you will try to pursue counselling wherever you end up. It seems to me that everything about you screams that this is your calling.

That young woman and many others like her, need someone like YOU. Not someone who just sees it as a way to pay the bills or someone who looks bored because they have heard it all before, a million times.

Life can really be cruel to some people and you wonder how much more they can bear before they crumble under the crushing weight. Thank God you were there.

Awareness said...

Gypsy....I do hope I will be able to pursue it. However, I may have to settle into another career during the day and once I am established again in a healthy environment and the everyday stress is gone, I will most likely then look at hanging out my own counselling shingle. It's too difficult to do that while I'm counselling during the day right now, and to tell you the truth, I don't have the energy at night right now to do much that is extra curricular. Writing and some volunteer work apart from my family commitments etc fills up my day. I do think I will have more energy......regain it once I can step away from where I am. It will happen......I'm working on it. It does take a while though and I have to be patient.

thank you for your kind words. Counselling has always been my calling.....since I was one at a children's camp when I was 16.....I knew then.

Shaz said...

Dana a hug says a thousand words. Kinness is sometimes in short supply but words are plenty to think you had the capacity to know just what was needed is a gift that exudes who you are. God Bless You xx

Awareness said...

Hey Shaz.....thanks. don't know if I really knew what I was doing. I was at a complete loss for words......a good thing given the situation. we tend to hesitate to risk a reach out to others who are in pain because it resonates so deeply in ourselves. It makes us feel almost as vulnerable. Plus, you never know how someone else is going to react when you display that kind of behaviour (hugging) A lot of people are so uncomfortable with it. I did hesitate thinking about how I should respond because I didn't want to cross her physical boundaries if she didn't want me too. So, it was risky...... Luckily it ended up being the right move.

Carmi said...

Your strength amazes me. I often feel that I lead a life of words because it's easy to hide behind them, to not have to deal directly with people. I like having the time to consider my responses, to build them in a methodical process, to not have to think on the fly, but to simply let them settle as they emerge from my head.

You, on the other hand, give of yourself so that others may have more. Courageous only begins to describe you.