It Torments Me

I had to talk with someone today.  Someone who may or may not have understood me.

My life’s work has long required me to be inquisitive and investigative of people and their lives, their work, their problems.  I have to ask.  Inquire.  Delve into.

The only problem….it’s not always possible to know if the other person understands.  I talk with young people, older people, persons with dementia, persons with a wide range of mental illness(es), people with traumatic brain injuries, people with severe illness that has robbed them of physical capabilities including the power to speak or sign, people who cannot communicate with me in a fashion I am accustomed to.

Often I leave someone and wonder…

What were they trying to, or wishing, they could say.   What did they want me to understand.

But I had the handicap of not being able to understand them.

It torments me.

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50 thoughts on “It Torments Me

  1. Your kindness and help are what count. You can’t expect yourself to understand everything. I am sure you are well appreciated, by your patients and their families. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I personally give you a lot of credit in choosing your profession. You are a wonderful human being. Bless you. Hugs.

    • Communication just amazes me. Thank you for your kind words. I sometimes struggle to make myself understood and I can speak, write, and doodle….I wonder about those who are locked in and what they must want to say.

  2. ksbeth says:

    that must be so hard at times. the good thing, no matter what, is that i’m quite sure that they know you are trying to help them, no matter what. thank you for always trying –

  3. I’ve had lots of conversations with people living with dementia, and always allow myself to believe that a little bit of what I say is doing good. A little bit is understood, and appreciated. I find that a touch, a smile, or a hug, communicates volumes.

  4. markbialczak says:

    I think you intuit a lot, MBC, from your years of experience reading people’s actions and eyes. In turn, I think they read this from you.

  5. jmgoyder says:

    Oh how much I admire you!

  6. No doubt, the frustration. But bless you, C, for caring so much. Somehow, I think they understand that.

  7. That’s a tough one. All we can do is our best. And hope for the best. You’re very intuitive and even if understanding was lacking, there’s no lack of love from your huge heart. It’s a gift to know you. ❤

  8. marvel says:

    understanding problems are a sad thing. But I thinl you are doing a good job. You give all the time your best and i think the more you get thee people know, the better the communication will be. Communication is not only words.

    • You are right Anie, communication is not always words. And I’ve often worked with others who could communicate even though they could not speak. But there are those who can’t communicate and it makes me so sad.

      • marvel says:

        ohhh, so it is very important to keep still contact to them. Look at them in the eyes, give them a smile a hug and if all this is not possible, think of them, they will feel it!
        And yes you are right to feel sad. Especiallly with persons, you realize that it will not change, that they will never ever be able to communicate….: (

  9. You have a difficult job that you do exceedingly well! I’m sure that you communicate love to these people and that is something they most definitely can understand!

  10. One of the most difficult enterprises is truly understanding what another person means–making the effort means everything to those trying to make themselves heard. Bet you get a lot more than you think you are, too!

    • marvel says:

      I can well imagine! It is certainly very tiring and requires a lot of concentration and sensitivity to recognize what people communicate. Especially silent people or those who have just no possibility of normal communication.
      Despite the effort, it is definitely a great experience and a sense of happiness when you think you have understood and surely they are more than you initially believe. Is not it hard to have a private life at all?

    • I hope so Louise. I like your comment….even with ourselves in our speak/written communication…making an effort to make sure we understand is so valuable.

  11. I think I understand and I believe that these are the times to be kind to ourselves. Receiving is as important as giving …has been a difficult learning for me. When we feel turmoil for any reason, it is our time to explore what are we not willing to receive …
    I think your being there is more significant to them than you perceive …maybe that is enough.

  12. I think your life’s work is immeasurable Colleen. Your heart, your ability to just be, sit, hold that space even if you do not feel as though you understand is enough. Very few have the ability to do what you do, you are a blessing. There are so many in my community that are hurting today because fires (in Northern California) have destroyed their lives and homes, I wish I could hold a hand and “be.” I’m trying to do my part, it doesn’t feel nearly enough.

  13. Ouch. I feel your pain on that. But of course, you know that you’re doing and have done your best. I’m sure the effort, as much as it’s understood, is appreciated by the other person.

  14. reocochran says:

    You care. That is so important! There are people in many fields of work who grow jaded and immune to the needs of others. As a teacher, as a child advocate at a battered women’s shelter and as an activities director I saw unfeeling workers, only a few in each position but you are NOT one of them, Colleen. 💞

    • marvel says:

      Yes, that is very sad reocochran. And even more sad is that there are quite sensitive and caring people who always like to help and see the needs of others, which are so unhappy that they do not have much to spare. For these people, I hope that they will find their happiness (the happiness that gives you wings in life and laughing through the day) because then they will have again the force and love to start giving again!

    • I’ve seen a few myself Robin. Though I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded, throughout my career, with kind and compassionate people. I have learned a tremendous amount from those I have been lucky to walk among.

  15. marvel says:

    I I think I got a translationproblem here sorry. If I read again it changes the sense completely. I meant:
    Yes, that is very sad reocochran. And even more sad is that there are quite sensitive and caring people, who are so unhappy that they do not have much love or power to spend. For these people, I hope that they will find their happiness (the happiness that gives you wings in life and laughing through the day) because then they will have again the force and love to start giving again!

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