So many times the anxiety of anticipation trumps all feelings about the actual events. So it was this week. Wednesday and Thursday at Waisman orientation with a short power point on Wednesday. Listening to descriptions of the program was so much easier the second time around. I understand this time. And suddenly I get the wash of realization that the entire program is another course in Civil Procedure. Yes, there is content to learn and lots of it, but the purpose of the course is leadership and so the content serves the lesson. It is not the lesson. I knew that but I lost track of it. I got very lost in content. Maybe, it would be more accurate to say that my training two years ago was about content. It was not that I did not engage in the leadership lessons but they drifted to the side as I crammed my plate with subject matter.
This time, for this second year . . . but then I still need the content. Hopefully, I can keep myself a bit more on track.
I have been thinking about how I listen. Something was said in the initial Quest meeting about learning to listen and the idea has been banging around inside my head. I recall that there was a time when I was a very good listener. It was a time when I was quieter, when I did not like speaking and actively pushed responding away. But that was a long time ago. I don’t listen as much as anticipate. I am not unusual at this in the least and it is more noticeable to me because without David, I don’t have the constant companionship of a listener to whom I listen. I am also coming out of a long period when my dearest friends check in with me and listen. I have talk a lot, pouring out my guts to them day after day, week after week. I do not deny how much I needed that wonderful gift, but recently I have felt the ability to ask, ‘how are you?’
To bring this back to a LEND related topic, I was struck by how I ordinarily “listen” to instruction. I take notes, I think about responding. I may not respond. There may be no response required but that is the way that I listen. And so, I tried to be attentive to what was said. I took only necessary notes, instead I concentrated on speakers and took in without thought to response what was being said. It is not that this kind of listening is foreign to me but I do not do it often enough. I don’t know why it feels notable but it does.
I started a LEND blog but it is not on line yet. I will be writing there regularly to keep track of what I am learning and some of the resources I am finding. I did that some here during my first year but it is too mixed into this blog to ever use as a reference.
A friend commented on my post about Julia not participating in our adoption day anniversary that perhaps as an older child, Julia does not see that as a joyful day and really does not want to celebrate. I was ready to reply that if Julia was a typically developing child I could believe that but she probably has no feelings about gotcha day at all because she really doesn’t understand it.
Oh, how wrong I can be. Thank goodness, I can listen. The day after our anniversary, I began a conversation as we were walking the dog. I asked Julia is she liked the tea set and she said that she did. Then I asked if she liked celebrating gotcha day and she said that she didn’t. I was taken aback. She did not ignore the question or respond with some dinosaur fact, she clearly said she didn’t. I had to take the next step and ask why. Asking Julia why can be futile. She answers in non sequiturs or applies circular reasoning. But again, she was very clear. “I don’t like it because I was terrified.” “When were you terrified?” “In China. When I met you.” “Why were you terrified?” “Because I did not know you.”
So, there it is. She is reclaiming her story, just as Marilyn has been urging her to and our trauma work has been leading her to. She could also tell me -- once asked -- why she acted as she did. I do not expect such insight, such self knowledge from her. I am a bit ashamed by my assumptions. I did not suspect that her reactions came from anything else but her lack of understanding. I will try not to make that mistake again.