23
Jul

On money and unconditional listening

I think about money a lot these days. The value of a coin can be so confusing. On one hand, our 5K walk raised over £140 so far and the fundraising is still open. So, one event in Clifton raised £5K for OTRBristol last weekend! Just today, in her first week, on the first day of her fundraising activity, the owner of the local cupcake shop raised £100 in a single Facebook donation. So was our 5K walk even worth it, I wondered? This weekend 21 people supporting OTRBristol will be skydiving so I am sure they will raise so much more than me as well…
 
So I am thinking about money a lot… In the UK people don’t like to talk about money especially in the context of charitable work. Yet, that’s what fundraising is all about: asking for money. Hm…
 
I think a lot about unconditional listening too. How can one explain the value of an hour of unconditional yet caring support of a counsellor? Someone who is completely uninvolved in our lives, yet so caring, so holding and so present? I started my own therapy last week. I have to do it for my therapeutic practice but did not expect to start so early. The recent news from home triggered so much anger, sadness and grief. I have committed to the process and allowed myself to work on healing now. And so after over two years of studying therapy, I went back to a counsellor’s room myself. I valued those 50 minutes of listening, curiosity, support and unconditional respect. In today’s world, assumptions get in the way of listening. So we are hardly ever actually listened and understood. “Don’t assume, because it would make you an ass” – I learned in a training session this morning. I related to it so well (on both sides of listening). When we meet friends we focus on them or on conveying our problems in the least painful way. When we love, we often take, not give. When we care, we limit other people’s horizons. And so all that remains is a bit of a bubble of our own thoughts. It’s really difficult to be one own’s sounding board, especially if we have no one to talk to. I do, I have a few good friends and a soul mate too, but I myself have benefited from an hour of unconditional support. So I can only imagine how this experience must feel like for someone vulnerable, abused or lonely. It’s life-changing for all.
 
So how can I quantify the money raised by me and by others? I do not think I can. I look a £10 note on my desk. I think about my usual ways of spending it. I think of all those young people out there who go to bed scared, hopeless, lonely, in pain. And I wonder… isn’t it amazing that folk like OTR Bristol counsellors can give so much for that one piece of paper? How much is that money worth to someone who has no one to talk to in such an unconditional manner? Maybe I will never know. Maybe all I have left is counting money and hours offered to those young people. That in itself fills me up with hope. 

(Our fundraising page is live for another 2 weeks, so if you have a spare tenner or so, please donate here. Thank you!)

Photo by Jonathan Brinkhorst on Unsplash

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