It was supposed to be a regular coffee date.
I waited for you on the patio at Starbucks, with my tea steeping in front of me and the cars zooming past to my left.
I was nervous. I had made up a story in my mind that you were a Very Busy Person, and that I should feel honoured that you would take the time out of your day to meet with me. And I know that you were and I definitely was, which is, I suppose, why I felt that way.
When you arrived you gave me a hug that dissolved the nervous tension in my stomach, and we sat down and began to talk, immediately and without reservation.
You leaned in.
I leaned too.
I felt as though something in your eyes, or maybe it was your heart, reached out and gently held my words and the feelings they were charged with. You looked at them, those words, from every angle. You investigated their tone and their weight and their purpose. You saw what might be filling the spaces between them, what might be underneath them, and you asked me to tell you more.
And I did.
Because, I have realized, one of the things that hurts the most – the thing that makes my chest sink and my heart to feel open and raw – is to feel as though my words fly out of my mouth and hit a brick wall, and slide, defeated, to the ground.
But here, as the milk froth in my tea fizzled and flattened, you showed me what it felt like to have my words truly and deeply heard.
You offered me no solutions for my quandaries and self-doubt, but I realized that though I thought that’s what I wanted, just having someone to sit with in all my uncertainty was what I really longed for. It was healing.
The experience was so new and rare for me that I stood up after our conversation had wound to a close feeling a little bit flustered – like you do when you’ve been complimented or have heard an unexpected “I love you.” Like I had been so honoured, so valued, and so nourished; I wanted to give you something in return for all that you had given me.
The hug I gave you as we parted ways was, in my mind, woefully inadequate compensation for what you had just done for me.
You showed me that being heard and held might be the greatest gift, the most healing service one person can do for another.
You, a coach yourself, showed me the true value of what I, too, can offer the world when I cultivate an ability to deeply hear another person’s words.