Shut Up and Listen

Over the past 8 months, one phrase has become a staple "Shut up and listen." This is internally and externally.

There is the obvious external part: Since day one we have had people telling us what we should do. Some people just wanted to help. Other people were just being self centered and ignorant. Just last week, my father was back in the hospital. A person who I thought would be empathetic only wanted to tell me what I "needed" to do and how I was wrong about things this person knew nothing about. Not cool.

I'm going to let everyone in on a big secret: When people are having a bad day or going through a rough time, if they want advice  they will ask for it. Really, what they usually want is for you to STFU and listen.This is especially true when you don't know the whole story. I get that you did *fill in the blank* for your loved one, but you are not us. We have a whole additional can of worms to deal with. Our situation may be no worse than yours, but it is certainly different. Yes, we can learn from others, but please do not think you have our answers. Listen to us and offer advice when we ask for it. At that point I don't have to like what you have to say, but I asked for your input. If prayer is your thing, send prayers our way. If it isn't, we will take your supportive thoughts.

Shut up and listen is also an internal request. Sometimes you have to stop and listen for the right thing to do.  If religion isn't your thing, it still applies. You might not put any faith in "God doesn't give us anything we can't handle." Still your "gut," concious, or whatever you want to call it will bring you ideas and insight you never knew you had. Yeah, you won't  always get it right, but if you listen to your instincts (where ever they come from), do your homework, and hold your ground, you can make it through. It won't always be pretty. You probably won't get the "Classic Hollywood Narrative Style" ending. Sacrifices will need to be made. There is a good chance things will suck from time to time. If you are looking for rainbows, butterflies, and puppies...look elsewhere. A little faith in something can take you a long way.

I spent an hour in that smashed up rental car. I sat there helplessly looking at my mom's car sitting less than 50 feet away. As I sat there picking glass and debris out of my hair and clothes, my mind wouldn't shut off. Why was I alive?   How were we getting back to Bay Park? All my friends are in Indy, and all the phone numbers of people who could get us were in mom's phone. Once we were back at Bay Park, how was I going to tell dad? Would telling dad kill him? Where was the will? Did she have life insurance? What about the dad's bills? Where would dad and Amy live? Who would take care of every thing? It was just an unending stream of questions. The only consistant thought I had was "Get to Bay Park and call Dr. Narra." There was no real game plan past that. Even when they finally let us out of the car new random thoughts added to the mix. How did that grain silo get under the car? (Answer: we landed on it.) Why isn't Lake High School right *there*? (Answer: we were picked up and moved by the tornado) Still, as I stood there looking at the car and listening to my sister scream a stream of obscenties that would make the employees of P3 Productions blush at the the passing gawkers the only real strong thought: Get to Bay Park, Call Dr Narra.

We made it to Bay Park, and after agreeing to check into the ER so that they would listen to me, they called Dr. Narra. Things just went from there. Pretty much from there on out, I listened to that calm voice. Things have been bad. I haven't always known what I was doing, and luckily the worst thing that has has happened from listening to that voice was the ridiculously purple casket we picked out. Even when things get crazy, there is still that voice pointing my in the right direction. it isn't always easy. Taking Dad out of Avalon and putting him in Assisted Living was a gamble. I had professionals at Avalon telling us it was a mistake, but somehow I knew it wasn't.  Elder care is expensive, but we are making it work. If I was trying to fix all this on my own, it would be a hot mess.

So remember, sometimes you just need to shut up and listen.


Byron Fenoglio said…
Thanks for sharing :-)
Too many titles said…
Exactly what the book on grief that I just read said! Well, your post was much more to the point, but same point;)

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