I don’t consider myself to be one of nature’s little listeners. I’m usually far too full of opinions and ideas about what people should do with their problems and how they should react in particular situations. I’m excellent at giving unsolicited advice, in fact, I feel it may be something I’m known for; jumping in at the deep end with my big mouth flapping and only half the facts.
Really it’s amazing I have any friends-and-relations left to speak to, considering how regularly I manage to fly close to being offensive.
Yet I seem to be one of these people around whom others feel quite happy to have little fallings-apart of their lives, letting me help them to pick up the pieces when things have gone wrong, telling me their troubles (in spite of my often less than helpful responses) and sometimes afterwards, (much to my astonishment) calling me wise!
I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet here, mind. I am as yet unconvinced that I’m good at helping, often feeling as gawky and uncomfortable as a teenager at their first disco (do teenagers still go to discos, or am I showing my age here?). I often feel that advice I offer tends to be on the blunt axe side of sensitive and that I’m too quick to jump in with suggestions as to how to fix things, when really all people may want is to be heard.
My husband will tell you I’m often far from sympathetic, and the best I can come to think of myself is that I’m fairly pragmatic (sometimes painfully so – he’ll attest to that, too) and this must have something to do with it – I can often see a potential solution in spite of, and sometimes plain not noticing, any emotions flying around.
I don’t think I’m particularly warm (at least, not in the way that makes you crinkle your nose and say “They’re just so lovely” when you meet a particularly warm person) and I’m not a small, mousy type who’ll just sit there and listen and empathise – I’m far more likely to
butt in interject, question, challenge, exclaim and regularly offer my five eggs.
That said, I am fiercely loyal and have several dear friends-and-relations for whom I would move mountains if I thought it could help when they’re in the midst of crisis. While it hasn’t come to that yet, I guess I’m pretty good at ‘being there’ even if that in no way means a slient sympathiser, more someone who’ll swear vengeance on whoever did the hurting of whichever of my loved ones it is upon that occasion.
Perhaps it’s just that I’m fairly big, mouthy and tough and look like I could hold my own in a scrap. Perhaps someday I’ll know. In the meantime I’ll just keep on being there, in my own quirky capacity which seems to draw so many in need of someone far sensibler to listen to them than I.