(GETTING AN EXPRESSION OF INTEREST)
The moment I closed the door, Lester’s (pseudonym) façade of nonchalance fell off his face, revealing a palpable fluster. He sat with an arm draped against the sofa while his other hand nervously scrolled his phone where he had a prepared list of topics that he wanted to talk to me about.
It felt like he was trying to set structure and contain his difficult experiences by putting them down as words, and then pinning them down with bullet points. Yet, there was a palpable sense of straining panic that came from behind the muted and measured tones of his voice. There was as I came to know, more than one layer to the façade that he had come to carry with him in his day-to-day life.
As he detailed what was on his mind, I began to struggle with making sense of what was going on for him. I also began to feel flustered and lost. I know that I am by nature (or nurture or both) an anxious person and now the undercurrents of emotions between us was sizzling and passing onto me. There was a strong urge within to contain the turbulence of feelings. A strong desire to interrupt his teeth-achingly measured narrative as he droned from his phone. An urge to ask him to slow down so that I could understand, or even just to keep up. I confess that I felt more and more disoriented and discomforted by his narrative.
Or perhaps it was not his narrative that mattered, it was something else that was came directly from what he was feeling at the moment, hitting me in my emotional core. Perhaps he was showing (not just telling) me what was happening for him RIGHT NOW. Strangely this realization and the wondering that came unbidden to my mind helped me to calm down significantly and quickly.
What, I wondered, happened if I were to listen deeply to MORE THAN what Lester was saying? What if I allowed myself to immerse in the emotions that came forth in our interaction together, instead of trying to contain (and inevitably foreclose and shut down) Lester’s emotions? What if I focused (or Focused) on JUST the emotions and not what he was saying?