Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In Confidence

Perhaps there was something in the air, or maybe it was the specter of 9/11, but it seems that yesterday was the day everyone chose to confide in me.

First, there was my neighbor, a lovely elderly man who shares his garden produce with everyone and cheerfully keeps watch on our homes when we're away. He stopped by as I was coming in from walking to the dogs and told me all about his wife who is showing increasing signs of dementia -forgetting to pay bills, repeating questions over and over, signs I am certainly all too familiar with. My heart was still aching for him when the phone rang, and it was my friend and colleague, bemoaning the fact that school counselors had pulled another five students from her girls choir because of a schedule conflict with required courses. She admitted to feelings of despair over the music program she had worked so hard to build over the past 18 years, now feeling as if it were now "disintegrating before her eyes," in her last year before retirement.

While I was still in shock at these mournful comments coming from my eternally optimistic friend, a call came from another friend whose 27 year old son died by suicide in January of this year. September 1 marked his birthday, and it was a conversation full of tears from both of us, as we remembered him and mourned his loss all over again.

I admit to being someone who likes to fix things, and when people confide their hurts and problems to me, I just itch to find a way to make it all better. So, after finishing all these conversations, I was wracking my brain trying to think of a way to help these people that I care about. Suddenly, I realized that I probably had helped them, just by listening to them, by lending a sympathetic, non-judgmental ear. Then I had a revelation of my own - I realized that I rarely, if ever, confide my problems to anyone. Not the really deep down, crisis of the soul sort of problems. I carry them with me, tightly knotted in a heavy sack so they can't possibly get out. Occasionally, I feel them come bubbling to the surface, trying to leave my mouth during a conversation with a friend, or even to flow from my pen as I write in my journal.
Usually, I stuff them back inside the sack, hidden forever like an evil monster. I'm not sure why I persist in this reticence - fear of boring people? of seeming weak or out of control? or just plain fear of looking head on at the things that pain me the most?
Perhaps there are two kinds of people in the world, confiders and confidantes. Which one are you? a confider? or a confidante?


Anonymous JourneyThroughLife said...

It is wonderful that people feel so comfortable confiding in you. It is a wonderful gift to have.
I'm a bit of both really. But I do prefer to be the confidante rather than the confider. And for the same reasons as you. I feel that who wants to hear me moaning and groaning about something. And yet, as the confidante, I value that someone feels comfortable to do talk to me and I value being needed and being able to help.
So, perhaps the person I confide in also feels the same way about my story!!

Blogger Jennifer said...

confidante all the way. I'm sure it's obvious from my blog - where I'm not much of a confider.

Anonymous bella said...

Becca, you must be an approachable, loving person for so many to share their feelings with.
I'm more of a confidant, it's very rare that I confide. When I do, the tears start flowing.

Blogger paris parfait said...

Confidante, definitely. It's wonderful that so many people feel able to share their concerns with you - it's because you radiate kindness and love and empathy for others. And yes, by listening to them, you helped. You probably changed the tone of their day, just by taking the time to hear them. Lovely post, which speaks to the kind of woman and friend you are. xo

Blogger paris parfait said...

But, hey once in a while you need to let it all out - if not in words, then perhaps in your piano playing?

Blogger M said...

I'm a confidante for sure. I stuff my issues back down inside too - I don't want to bother anyone with my crap. They seem to have enough to deal with.
You seem like a very caring person, you must make people feel safe enough to be totally honest with you.

Blogger susan said...

sometimes i'm both...i think...i hope anyway because i believe that you hit a key truth that just listening is a great help to others; but empathy by sharing your own similar fears, experiences, concerns and truimphs makes the load lighter for both the confidante AND the confider :-)

Blogger Tammy said...

You have a beautiful gift and I would love to help carry your sack :) I am both and had to learn how in the worst of ways but love the gift. You have the gift of "encourager." Dump that load because it leaves room for treasures :)

Blogger Helen said...

You have written what I feel so much of the time. It is true though just listening you have helped more than you know! Your life will be blessed. :)


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