The Fallout Guide for Hep C: Engagement
This is the sixth and final installment of a six-part series called The Fallout Guide for Hep C. Six emotional components of living with Hep C which are important to address to maintain our sense of self as we traverse the difficult hardships ahead. Read earlier installments on survival mode, support networks, self-care, passion, and routine.
Engagement: No definitely not the about-to-be-married, been there done that. I’m talking about actively engaging others in conversation.
Truly connecting & listening
This doesn’t mean small talk, talking about our day necessarily, or even just chatting.
It’s that heart-to-heart. I’m notorious for doing this with Lyft drivers. Because the car ride facilitates easy communication as it doesn’t have the intensity of eye contact. That is the engagement I’m talking about, is actually not talking… honestly, it’s mostly listening.
I hear you
An old adage sticks with me “God gave you two ears and one mouth.” The idea being that the ratio of listening should always be more than talking.
With real-time text conversation online, this becomes a lot harder, because we read nearly three to ten times faster than we type. An important thing to remember when talking online is patience, it’s key to facilitating that same active listening. And it can take a lot more because without nonverbal cues and intonation the message can be received very differently than we what we sent.
So it’s doubly important to keep that 2:1 listening ratio in mind when communicating, regardless of medium.
Offering my vulnerability
Inevitably some of us may skew one way or another, but the ratio is an excellent goal to keep in mind. In my experience, it’s been best when I offered to start, to explain something about myself which makes me vulnerable.
Because it puts the other person in control and allows them to assess their vulnerability and if they’re willing, they usually share something back. It’s important to not compare your stories, but do make analogies with acknowledgement: I hear you, I feel you, I understand, that’s rough.
Don’t offer your opinion on their situation, unless they’re receptive to it, or they ask directly. This may sound odd, but if we should want to make those connections, someone must leap.
Why not us?
When we start that engagement we set the pace and set what we’re comfortable to reveal, and it lets everyone walk at the slowest most comfortable pace.
The emotional fallout from Hep C is hard to deal with, but there are legs to the table, and it’s never a finished conversation. These legs will always evolve and change for different people in different situations.
And when you encounter them, I implore you to write it down. It’s our differences in perspective which shape this world, and if we can understand each other, if only for a moment, it makes for a more compassionate and powerful force of good that we make act on. Because good is immeasurable, but it requires perspective and understanding to see its effects.