“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When ware listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menninger
I remember my first call like it was yesterday.
I answered the phone, heart beating out of my chest, hand firm on a sheet of local emergency phone numbers.
The voice on the other end was full of… meek embarrassment.
Not exactly what I was expecting.
“Uhh, I’m really sorry… I’m not, uhh… I’m not suicidal…. I just… I just had a huge fight with my girlfriend…. I just… I really need to talk to someone…. Is that okay?”
If you’re like I was before I became a volunteer in 2011, when you think about a suicide hotline you imagine and circumstances so traumatic and unbearable that they bring people to consider ending life.
But, I soon discovered that everything I expected to be true—everything from what the callers would be like, all the way up to how I would handle them—was completely wrong.
And what I learned forever changed the way I think about pain.
My First Big Surprise About Pain
I became a volunteer because I wanted to help people who were hurting.
But looking back, I realize that I…