Sunday, February 18, 2024

No new photos right now.  This photo was taken on the way home from Wetaskiwin about eighteen months ago.  That's an Alberta sky for you.

Many years ago my brother had a sweatshirt with the following quote on it. Ecoutez et toute le monde vous entende.  In english it means, listen, and the whole world will hear you.  My brother left that sweatshirt behind when he moved to Florida for a year. I found the shirt and kept it; I loved it and wore it out.

It also made me think about listening.  I have/am ADD and have a huge problem with interuppting people, because if I wait too long to say something, it disappears from my brain, so I blurt.  I've gotten better as I've aged, but I know it was bad when I was young.  I also know that I'm not alone.  Many people do this.  Jack does this and I am in the process of gently explaining to him that conversations are two way, which means he can't interrupt and that people take turns talking.  It's a social skill and it can be learned.

I interrupt much less, but I also don't get my point across always, because, as predicted, I forget what I was going to say.  I've noticed with Jack that he often forgets what he was going to say if he has to wait too long.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  That is why I like to write, because I can go back over my thoughts and sometimes I don't even realize what I was thinking until it comes out of my fingertips and onto the keyboard.  I can also get a complete thought out without being interrupted, because other people interrupt too.

I looked up I Don't Feel Heard the other day on google.  I wasn't at all surprised to find that there were 860,000,000 results for that particular google search.  It is a common problem, in the world, in communities, in families, in relationships.  

I am a sixty-one year old woman, who is also a nurse.  I often feel unheard and unappreciated.  I am also a mother and caregiver of a young disabled woman (my youngest daughter), as well as my grandson.  I often feel unheard and unappreciated, but as a woman, I also realize that most women feel unheard and unappreciated, 992,000,00 results for that particular google search. 

But here's the thing, my husband doesn't feel heard either, and I have no way of making him feel heard.  I can listen to him, I can empathize with him, but he still doesn't feel heard.  Both of us grew up in homes in which healthy communication was never displayed.  Our parents were of the generation that believed children should not talk back, and that children should obey their parents, even if the rules made no sense.

My father was all about the rage and the anger, or fear really.  He wanted to control his children's lives in the hopes that nothing bad would happen to them.  My mother preferred passive aggressive manipulation.  And me, I chose a mix of their styles.  One of the most difficult problems I have, is crying when I'm talking about things that I feel strongly about.  

My husband grew up in a similar kind of post war family, except it was his mother who was the control freak.  She knew better and people should listen to her.  I'm guessing that she never felt heard in her family growing up either.  

So now we have two people who don't feel heard, don't have their feelings validated and don't know how to communicate with each other, despite their best efforts.  The main difference between the two of us is that I think most of the people in the world feel unheard and he doesn't seem to get that.  It's not that I don't empathize with him, I just don't think he's unique.  

Obviously that answer doesn't help us communicate better, and I'm sure he feels even less understood.  But I also think that we have to go back to the source, to fix the problem.  I know with myself that it's my responsiblity to tell people how I feel and why.  I also know that I struggle with this because of my upbringing, but it's still my responsibility.  I also don't expect people to agree with me.  It would be lovely if they did, but unlikely.  The best that I can do is to be honest with myself and others.  I can't make anyone think something or feel something, I can only accept.  

And as I wrote that last sentence, a light bulb went on.  I can't make my husband look at his family or deal with the issues that stem from his family, I can only accept.  I can set boundaries but I can't change him.  Hmmm.  Well, that sure didn't go the way I thought it would:)



  1. You're probably right in that all but the most strident don't feel heard. My DIL's mother has the most appalling habit of talking right over the top of people. I always try to wait to let someone finish talking but she just barges right in there and talks over the top - so she's obviously not listening to what anyone's saying. Mostly I let it go but sometimes I just keep on talking and very occasionally she stops. As my colleague used to say "pardon me for talking while you're interrupting"!

  2. This reminds me of that quote attributed to Flannery O'Connor: I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say. I go back and reread my journal; some days it is heartbreaking but I'm glad I do it (both the writing and the rereading).

  3. I think that a lot of times when people say they feel unheard or not listened to, what they mean is that no one does what they say. So it's just another control issue. The underlying thing to learn is that we can only control ourselves, not others, as you point out.

  4. One of the things I am really trying to learn is that my opinion or my thoughts on something may not really matter that much. That listening is often all that needs to be done. Other times we DO need to be heard. Of course. It is a delicate dance, isn't it? I, too, often cry when I speak of emotional things. My family and friends know this about me. I don't think they get over-worried about it.

  5. I think your last sentence may not be what you expected but will probably prove helpful to you. I am mostly affected by the medical industry not hearing me. It is an industry. I cry when I am angry. I hate it, because my anger isn't recognized because I'm crying. You are figuring it out and I am glad you write these thoughts, most can relate in some way to these feelings.

  6. No amount of communication or listening can help us feel understood because I doubt that anyone can truly do so. If we can't even figure ourselves out (and what we need), how can another person? I try to remember that when I feel unappreciated or misunderstood. I don't know that my younger daughter and I will ever truly connect; we do try and sometimes come close, but she is closed up like her dad and because of that isn't completely honest. All we can do is to keep working on our listening and sharing and hope to draw a little closer to our loved ones.

  7. I often ask myself if all these (relatively) new acronyms and labels actually help us in any way. So, yes, who hasn't been diagnosed with one disorder or another, how many people do you know who are perfectly "normal"? If I follow these diagnosis keys I know I'll come up with something that's "wrong" with my personality and maybe for a while it will help me understand why some things happen or happened and some didn't or never will. If it helps us feeling understood, no problem. But apart from the, isn't it all just down to accepting that we are all unique and all struggling one way or another? You have so much on your plate, use whatever comes your way to stay sane, and if that includes being too impatient with situations, so be it.

  8. "Hear, hear!"
    Yes. There's a difference between being heard and being heeded.
    You got it. Nice one.