On Listening and Being Listened To

Making friends as an adult is hard. In most social situations it can be awkward to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. Once you have children it can become even more difficult to meet new friends, and often old friends are more distanced than before. Joining a group or community that facilitates connections to people with whom you have something in common may feel forced at first, but you may find that it’s totally worth it.

Attending a mom and baby group when my daughter was young was world-changing for me. Up until that point I had never left the house with her on my own, didn’t have any friends with newborns, and internalized a lot of my feelings about being a new mother. My partner was there for me and I shared a lot with him, but even he had a difficult time understanding — naturally, as such complicated emotions were difficult to understand even for myself. When I finally sat down with other moms and vocalized things that I had been holding on to for months, a weight was lifted off my chest.

Talking also forced me to become more honest with myself. We shared our birth stories the first day; when it was my turn I marveled at how smoothly my labour had progressed and how happy I was with it. A few sessions later I finally admitted that even though I couldn’t have been happier with my labour and delivery, the fact that my daughter was born preterm had a strong impact on us and robbed me of many of the experiences that I had longed for. I had avoided vocalizing my feelings previously for fear of breathing more life into them or being told that I ‘should be grateful’, but saying them out loud finally brought a sense of relief. After that day, I was able to move on and let some of my resentment go, all because I said some words aloud to a group of women whom I knew would understand.

I no longer speak to most of those women, but I think back fondly on the moments we shared and will never underestimate the power of listening and being listened to.

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