Sometimes just listen …

TRIGGER: Discusses domestic violence

Every day for several months when I was in junior high school, I’d rush home to sit on the porch swing with an elderly, retired hairdresser. We’d sit while that old porch swing with peeling paint squeaked and talk about her life.

I listened to countless client stories, including how she used to instruct her clients to wash their hair in dish soap because it stripped oils and made their hair super soft. She’d tell me about her children and their milestones growing up.

One day she told me about her husband — something she’d never done before. She told me how he bent her fingers back until they touched her wrist. I listened quietly, not knowing what to say. She traced my hand, showing where her fingers were bent. Her hands were soft, and gentle. A few tears fell from her cheeks as she told me the story of his abuses.

I was too young to know the gravity of what she was telling me. But, even at my young age, I knew my only job was to listen to her. To give her a place to tell her story — possibly for the first time in her life. I often wonder if that helped her. If she unloaded a life-long burden that day. I now know the sacred moment we shared and I’m thankful and humbled.

Shortly after that day, we moved away and never saw each other again. I know she’s gone by now, but I continue to hold her close to my heart, leaving space for her and her healing.

I encourage you who are reading this to just listen to your friends — it may not be advice they are asking for. Sometimes they just need to process. Sometimes they just need to be heard. I know for me, I’m always trying to figure out how to help my friends, but that’s not always the best thing. Listen. Just listen. Then ask them: “How can I best support you?”

Take care of each other. We’re all going through (or have gone through) something.

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