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Listening to the Messages Contained in the Cracks, Edges, and Sidelines: Suicide Prevention Month

Art courtesy of Bo's Place in Houston, Texas

If you’ve ever said, “Yeah, I see…”, all the while shaking your head in agreement or seemingly trying to acknowledge the person that is communicating to you and your mind and heart are travelling in a completely opposite direction at lightning speed, then you will completely identify with this message – I hear you, but I don’t see you.

The truth is, we’ve all been there. And, we’ve been there on both ends. Neither end feels amazing.

In fact, not being seen, can feel like we are drifting towards a live death.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be seen from one human being to another. To be truly seen by another human being is to be truly listened to by the other person’s whole heart. In the education world, we call this noncontingent listening. We listen to each other for simply existing as human beings.

To be in this space of noncontingent listening takes presence. It’s takes compassion. It takes empathy. And, it takes a lot of love. How do we get there?

Practice. More practice. And, then, more practice. It takes being committed to the practice of being present, being compassionate, being empathetic, and being love. This way of being is easier when things are going well and working out.

Yet, what happens when they aren’t working out? When things actually look pretty dark and feel heavy?

We have to train ourselves to listen deeply to the messages contained in the cracks, edges, and sidelines of our life, and in the conversations we have with the people in our life. Those are the places where we tend to run from in order to find sanctuary, to find “greener spaces” thriving with more, better, and the best kinds of comfort.

But we are likely to find that something is missing.

I discovered that something was deeply missing a few years ago. My former spouse and father to my son, now age 12, took his own life. Sometimes I still feel like I’m waking up from the traumatic effect that event had on my mind, body, and soul. I still wonder if I listened close enough to the messages in the cracks, edges, and sidelines of my own life.

Maybe I did. And, maybe I didn’t. The more important question I’m asking myself now is this – Am I committed to hearing and seeing every human being that crosses my path here and now?

I have to constantly remind myself that it’s a practice.

I hear you and I see you.  When I see you, really and truly see you, I know that you know that you matter to the world.

That’s the kind of preventative that will change lives.

(ps. art photo courtesy of Bo’s Place: where hearts are healed, in Houston, Texas)

XO ~


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Melissa Menke September 27, 2018, 11:41 am

    This is a very powerful message. It takes more courage and practice than I’d like to admit sometimes. Thank you for your willingness to SEE people and to encourage us to do the same. I look forward to sharing this post with my kids. It’s so important.

    • Athea September 27, 2018, 2:36 pm

      Thank you for this wonderful comment, Melissa. I want to acknowledge you for taking on this hard and very necessary conversation with your kids. You are a great mom!