Author’s note: I accidentally published this before I added any words! Sorry! For those of you who saw it without words, I hope you enjoy it more with them!
A reply to: A letter from Dove
How lovely your children are! They look full of delight! Do they keep you busier now that they’re bigger and more independent? I would imagine that all that curiosity and energy keeps you on your toes!
I was saddened to hear that your people also have domestic violence. When I first considered it, I felt that, being telepathic, the suffering from domestic violence with your people would be less. But then, the more I thought about it, I began to see that telepathy (and are you also empathic?) would not necessarily prevent the suffering. What I realized was that if we knew what others were thinking about us–especially their harmful thoughts–then we might feel even more hurt.
Is there such a thing as “privacy of the mind” among telepathic people?
Recently, I’ve been examining my support system. Or, maybe more accurately, I’ve been realizing that I don’t have much of a support system, and it’s time for me to build one!
Of course the subject came up through my volunteer work with House of Hope. In fact, we had a seminar for the staff (including me), along with employees of other local service agencies, like the refugee center that brought Jena here. The seminar’s title was “Support2“, and it was about the need for support-givers to have sound support systems.
We were given a worksheet. On it, was a starting list of qualities we would look for in members of our support system.
Here’s the list:
1) The ability to listen for the duration of my need to ventilate or communicate something without changing the focus onto themselves.
2) The ability to then share regarding the given topic from their own personal history and/or perspective.
3) The ability to help me understand the situation from a different perspective, through systems-thinking, reframing, or providing new insights and understandings.
4) The ability to voice at the start if they are unable or unwilling, for whatever reason, to give me the time that I need.
5) The ability to inform me if the content of the conversation is harming them. This shows me that they are taking care of themselves and frees me from that responsibility.
6) The ability to share what is bothering them AFTER I have finished. Not changing the focus of the conversation from me (if I initiated contact) until it was completed.
7) The ability to comprehend what I am saying. Even if they don’t fully comprehend, are they at least trying to understand what I am saying or feeling?
8) The ability to repeat to me what I am saying to help me clarify my comprehension and communication abilities.
9) The ability to respect my right to refuse their venting on me if I am unable to cope with it.
10) The ability to respect my privacy in regards to my property, body, and mind.
11) The ability to not violate my space, body, or mind. This incorporates not touching unless gaining my permission, not telling me what I should do or how I should feel, or that what I am saying, doing or feeling is wrong in any way. It also incorporates not trying to make me adopt their point of view.
12) The ability to encourage me to choose of my own free will what to do and to help me explore and discover the various choices available to me, even the negative ones. Not trying to fix things for me or run my life for me.
13) The ability to accept and encourage my participation in activities without them and with other people.
14) The ability to accept not being told everything and not being my only support person.
We were encouraged to modify, add to, delete, or edit this list in any way we wanted, so that it fit us. I added #3 to the list. Surprisingly, thought the list was created for survivors of abuse, I found that it fit me amazingly well. When I mentioned this to the woman leading the seminar, she looked at me carefully.
“Well, you’re highly sensitive,” she said at last. “We’ve found that HSPs (Highly Sensitive People) have very similar needs to survivors. It’s because the world is so harsh, my dear, so if you’re picking up so much stimulus, you need to take extra measures to protect your own privacy and autonomy.”
INWk, that statement floored me! It’s so accurate! I’ve always wondered why it was that I needed all these extra layers of privacy and protection in my life–now maybe I know!
The next step was to make a list of people in our lives who might be members of our support team. Of course, I put down my uncle Jasper, you, and my other two pen pals. I didn’t put my brother Norman’s name on the list, because I knew right off the bat that he didn’t have the capacity for items 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 12. I mean, not at all.
I wanted to put my friend Ira, who’s in the painting group I lead through House of Hope, on the list, as well as my uncle’s organ teacher, who’s also in the painting group. But we were told that we couldn’t have anyone in our support system who was receiving services from the agencies we worked or volunteered for. “You might be on their support team,” the leader told us, “but while they are receiving services from the agency you represent, they cannot be on your support team.”
I completed the project with my short list. We had to rank everyone’s capacity for each of the items we’d listed on a 10-point scale, with 0 for having no capacity to 10 for having strong and consistent capacity. You and everyone else on my list did great!
So the good news, I’ve got strong members on my team! Thank you, INWk, for being one of them!
The bad news is only one of these people, my uncle, lives near me and is available for me to see regularly. Clearly, I need to do some work to fill out my support system.
I thought about my friends. Well, I don’t have many. There’s Anaya!
I invited her over one evening to see if she might be a good candidate. I really enjoy listening to her! She talks about art almost every time we get together, and I always end up feeling inspired.
But as we talked, I discovered that she doesn’t have all the qualities I’m looking for. She talks while I talk–I mean at the same time–and I’m not able to finish, complete, or even discover what it is I’m trying to say.
She also has a habit of zoning out while I’m talking.
I asked her once what she was doing, if I was boring, or if she was visualizing what I was saying, or what.
She confided that I was a little boring, and she said, “My mind is like a butterfly. It can’t be tied down! When the ideas come, my mind needs to follow. All my friends understand this.”
I can understand it, and it’s a fine and even admirable quality for a friend to have. It’s just not a quality I’m looking for in a member of my support system.
So, I added a new item to my list:
15) Has the capacity to listen to me without getting bored, or will at least take measures to pay attention to what I say even when I am boring.
So Anaya, while a valuable and inspiring friend, isn’t part of my support system.
The next morning, I invited over the social worker from the refugee center. She was at Support2 with me. She’s actually Jena and my social worker, since I adopted Jena through the center, so, while I can’t be on her support team, she can be on mine.
We had a good visit. I definitely feel like she’s a strong member of my team.
The thing is, she kept getting up and walking around while we were talking. This isn’t the first time she’s done this. She always walks around while we talk. I think it’s just that she has a lot of energy and she’s a very physical person. But I find it a little unsettling when we’re in the midst of a deep talk, and she’s suddenly up walking around and joking.
I thought about adding a new item:
16) Has the capacity to stay seated during a deep conversation.
It’s important to me, but I have the feeling I’m being petty, so I left it off the list.
I felt better: In a day, I was able to add one more person who I see on a regular basis to the list. I knew I still had some work to do, though.
That afternoon, my stereo broke. Usually, I fix it myself, but I was in the middle of painting, and Jena wanted some attention, so I decided to call a repair person.
I really like the woman who the Fix-It company sent!
After she finished her work, she stayed for a while, at my invitation.
As soon as we began to talk, she sat down. And I noticed she remained seated the entire time we talked!
She listened to everything I had to say. She never interrupted. And then she shared insights and observations from her own life, and everything she shared helped me understand better the situation I’d been talking about!
I had the most amazing feeling while I was talking to her: I felt really, truly listened to.
While I was talking, she became quiet–not just “quiet” as in waiting-for-her-turn. But quiet–as in still, but attentive. Truly, deeply listening to what I was saying, without thinking about what she would say next.
It felt like a real gift.
I hope I am able to learn and practice that quality.
She stayed for about half-an-hour, and we became friends in that time. We’re getting together for tea next week. I really hope that we stay friends because she’s someone I’d love to have on my support team. And I’d love to be on hers.
Oh, this is such a long letter! I hope it’s not too boring! Well, you can tell me if it is!
INWk, thank you for being such a good support person for me! I hope that I have the capacity to be a support for you!
I was so excited to hear that some of your inventions are making it out into the world! How does that feel? I did notice your new ice cream flavors, Weight of the World and Taste of Diet. In fact, I bought Weight of the World, and I love it!
It’s so exciting to me to think that I know the inventor of that ice cream! I hope that you’re getting lots of great feedback on it–you deserve it!
Fill me in on all that’s new with you! It always seems like so much happens in your world in between our letters, even though in mine, the days barely crawl by!
Maybe you can explain the funny textures of time to me.
So much love to you and all of yours!
p.s. Jena thanks you for the Cat Compendium! She adores cat words! 🙂