By Denell Nawrocki
Every single human has an innate need to be seen, heard, and witnessed.
It is a part of being human.
When I go places by myself, I purposely open my heart and 'magnetize' others to me- those who have story that needs to be shared and listened to. Those who are holding a dialogue within themselves, and who have not have the opportunity to voice it. Most often, these stories are painful and full of grief. They are the stories that are difficult to speak, and for some, difficult to listen to.
I love hearing the stories. I love witnessing strangers- who are clueless as to why they are opening up to another stranger- find relief in their heart after speaking their story.
Do in part to my being a female, most individuals that are drawn to me tend to be men, and I do not fault them for that. When they begin talking to me, it usually follows the same pattern of introduction, getting to know you, and first-meeting inquiries that two strangers usually go through upon the first meeting. But what follows is nothing else but extraordinary.
I begin asking questions. Questions about their life, love, dreams and desires.
This usually takes them aback because most people, when meeting for the first time in a public place do not get asked those sorts of questions. But I ask them.
Deeper and deeper the conversation goes as I guide them down the rabbit hole of authentic communication and expression. It is a journey of the heart.
Last night I took myself out to a restaurant and went alone.
As per usual, a man of around the age of 40 greeted me and asked to sit down next to me. I agreed, knowing full well that he had a story to share- otherwise he would not have crossed the void between us.
Slowly but surely, as our dialogue continued, he began to express his grief for his failing marriage of 20 years. His wife became an alcoholic after getting a job as a wine-pourer in a tasting room, and since then his marriage has been in a decline.
He expressed to me his concern for his two teenage children, and his own happiness.
He expressed how he purposely 'gets back' at his wife with neglect because of how much she is hurting him.
He expressed to me that he comes from a family with an alcoholic father, and that this whole experience is his worst nightmare coming true- the love of his life and mother to his children turned into the type of person he loathed the most.
And I listened. I listened to this man tell me his grief story, and kept eye contact with him for the duration.
At one moment, he stopped, looked at me, and said, "I don't know why I am telling you all this. I just met you. But I feel so comfortable telling you. I needed someone to talk to."
I met another man who was seated with his friend at the bar- again around the age of 45-50. He came from El Salvador and his friend from Mexico City- both flamboyantly gay and proud of it. I shared a drink with them- they offered- and thus began to unfolding of their stories.
The man from El Salvador began to recount his life to me- in broken English- and the pain and suffering that he has gone through. Abuse, rape, kidnapping, struggling to survive, disconnection from his family, loneliness, tragedy.
He began to cry. Tears welled up in his eyes as he grabbed my hand, telling me that although he has gone through terrible, terrible things, that he still has Esperanza (hope) and still had faith in God.
He hugged me and thanked me for listening- calling me an Angel.
I thanked him for his vulnerability and his story. He had such a deep story to tell.
I may never see these people again, and that is ok.
I know their story- what they were holding in their hearts that needed to be released.
I like to believe that by having the hardships in life expressed and witnessed, they move through a person's being and become 'unstuck'.
Perhaps chronic illness is just stuck stories that have never been spoken or heard.
Perhaps violence is the expression of those stories- they need to come out somehow.
Everyone has stories needing to be shared.
Every single person you see has experiences- good and bad- that have yet to be witnessed and heard.
Perhaps the next time you are out in town, put down your phone, take out the ear phones, and open your heart to the stories surrounding you.
Someone may approach you, or begin a conversation. Stay with it. Ask questions. Go deep.
Watch the decompression of a person's heart occur before your very eyes, and hold that sacred space we all crave.
Maybe you are the one that needs to share a story. Maybe that person you speak to is there to hold the space for you.
You never know.
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