I’m Listening

Origionally Published 22nd May, 2016


I might talk about some female issues that cause distress

Yesterday afternoon I got stopped on the way back from work by one of those charity fundraiser guys on the high street.

Not being the most assertive of people (I know those who would call this an understatement…), it’s taken me a long time, much practice and numerous encouraging/teasing/incredulous words to reach the point where I deliberately avoid them, obviously blank them or politely refuse to talk to them.

Yesterday I was exhausted, ill, two down on three work days in a row and most definitely in a vulnerable state of mind.

I stopped when the fundraiser guy stepped in front of me and thrust his hand in my face. I put on what I could muster of my cynical mindset and prepared to be polite but firm. I wasn’t going to sign up for any charity and if he so much as mentioned child abuse – was he going to get a speech he wasn’t going to forget!!

He was trying to get me to sign up for a campaign to stop child marriage and FGM.

Um, what was that I said about not signing up for anything and speaking my mind?! Umm…

I put up some token resistance, asked a lot of questions to make him work for it, but I knew and he knew … he’d got me. He even said “I can see you’re emotionally invested”.

Well DUH!! I’m the girl who has to watch the program about any kind of abuse against women, because if I don’t, I feel like I’m ignoring their voice, not listening to their story and being just like the people that turned away from me. I know that the girls in a documentary are never going to know if I watched or not, but I do, and I’m not going to leave their voice unheard. Absolutely it brings me extra pain and heartache I don’t need, but I know what it’s like not to have a voice or not to be listened to. Not if I can help it.

So I signed up for this charity. I was annoyed with myself and the person fundraising as I did it. I know that although this is a heartbreaking issue that desperately needs support, my heart lies in hidden issues a lot closer to home. That’s where my money should be going. (Note to self: Why haven’t you done something about that before girl?!)

I worried, I went off on one at the guy (just in my mind), I stewed, I couldn’t settle for a nap (don’t judge! Another post …) And I had to explain it all to my ever-patient husband amidst much self-incrimination and repeatedly saying how weak I am.

Thankfully, my hubby knows me well. He knows why it was difficult and knows why I signed up. He calmed me down and reminded me that when they did a follow-up call to see how it went, I could just cancel then and choose a charity I actually wanted to support.

And that is what I did. Maybe I’m just a little proud of myself ….

I tried to point out that the fundraisers should check if the person they’re talking to is alright emotionally/mentally with the subject, or if they need to stop. Just a simple question would be enough, right? “Are you ok if I talk about child abuse statistics? If this subject is too difficult for you, please say.” Yes, I can see all the ways this could be taken advantage of, but for those of us who can’t get to the words, for whatever reason, “I can’t talk about this,” this would be the way out … without feeling like a heartless women that just doesn’t care.

(I kind of put a lot more feeling – and a fricking load more of stumbling, rephrasing and apologising – into my explanation, but that’s the basics)

The person I talked to on the phone said that he was a psychologist for his other job and got the whole trigger and emotional (to drastically paraphrase) thing, and would definitely pass it on. He was very nice about it all and definitely made the whole process better than I thought it was going to be.

I’ve no idea if what I said will make it through to any kind of meeting, be suggested to fundraiser teams, or just discarded in the office paper bin.

But I really did try.

For now, that’s the point.

I have to listen to girls or women who are hurting. That’s what I have to do. I feel it. I’m glad I feel it. But I need to learn when that listening needs to be turned into action, and when my role is just listening.

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