I want to be heard, but I’m not hearing myself.
I’ve been compromising who I am.
But who am I?
I don’t even know.
Growing up, I used to listen to others’ stories, rants, misfortunes, successes, losses, or heartbreaks. I feel valued whenever someone shares his or her secrets to me.
Wow, someone trusts me. Someone needs my help. Of all people, this person chooses me.
Who would not feel a little thump in her heart when someone talks to her? When someone shares a vulnerable piece with her?
I feel useful and needed. Maybe, I need to do this more often.
It seems that God created me to listen to others. With this, I can share His love and help others to be heard.
In different situations, I learned how to listen without overreacting. Act neutral. Pacify people. Stay out of trouble.
But the person who listens finally needs to be heard.
Everything looks fine until I faced my own emotional turmoil. I thought I had it all together.
Although some people knew I was struggling, they didn’t know the exact depths of my pain. I can narrate events, but I can’t express my emotions. I had to show that the storm didn’t affect me.
After escaping my unhealthy environment, I felt false relief. Come on, self, move on. Let’s find another job and discover that career. What do I enjoy doing without putting on so much effort?
To my surprise, listening can be my career. So, I decided to study counseling.
Listening reveals not only the heart of the speaker, but also of the listener.
But studying counseling feels like undergoing surgery. It exposes roots I buried for many years.
If I only focus on listening to others to be a great counselor, I might fail.
The truth is… I listen to others because I wanted to be heard, too.
Since most of the people I encounter do the talking, I would have to adjust and do the listening. After that, we’ll end the conversation.
I never felt comfortable talking about myself or sharing my inner thoughts and emotions. They seem unimportant. I didn’t experience any tragedy, major heartache, or loss that would make my stories trivial. Why would people bother to listen when they are already preoccupied with their own problems?
Yet, my heart unconsciously yearns to hear others ask me sincerely and randomly, “How are you?”
No wonder, I freely channeled my thoughts and feelings through writing since my teenage years. But social media just allows me to be seen(zoned), but not to be heard.
As counselors-in-the-making, we have to listen to ourselves first. We need to get used being heard, too. From this point, we can honestly empathize with others.
I have a deep longing for others to check on me, especially when I’m silent. I want them to feel my absence, so I disconnect from all of my social media accounts.
The result? I was just absent, but not felt.
And that’s even more painful. On the one hand, I badly need to be heard, but on the other, I have difficulties expressing that need.
Then, quarantine came. I felt lonelier and somehow, more forgotten. I look at my phone every minute, wishing someone would randomly check on me.
Or maybe, I could check on them. And I did. I felt relieved to listen and be useful once again.
But as I listen more, I also crave more of what I give.
How could I give something I haven’t received abundantly?
But in my cries of deep sadness and pain, God inspired me these words:
Daughter, you want to be heard, but you don’t hear yourself. I know you brush off your emotions, hold back your tears, filter your thoughts, and cut down your own voice. You only share what others might want to hear. You think of their opinions until you have forgotten your own identity.
I’m always here to listen, but how can you feel heard when you don’t speak? Tell me everything and I will hear you. I hear your heart. But more than that, I will help you hear yourself.
I realized that after my emotional roller-coaster ride, I never even whispered, “Let’s face the pain you’ve been through, self,” or asked “How do you feel, self?”
I feared hearing myself because I can’t accept how God created me to think and to feel.
Listen to God, and you will hear yourself.
For the past days, I have been basing my posts on what God impresses me to write. I know I have to listen to Him. But I can only listen and receive His Word with open ears, mind, and heart. How can I receive if I have too much baggage of my own?
He invites me (and you) to be completely honest with Him. Let go of our burdens in exchange for His presence and Word.
Listening to ourselves is not selfish when we lay down our words at His feet, when we press on our wounds to Jesus’ nail-pierced hands.
Because to be heard (truly) is to be vulnerable and humble before our Abba Father.