Maybe We Don’t Want to Listen To Your Story

I had my feet up on the couch, willing the bleeding to stop. I couldn’t find any pads last night but remembered the spare diapers I kept for my nephew’s sleepovers. They were perfect. What a word. Perfect. I suppose I should have this down by now. I changed out the diapers every hour, at times faster. The empty trash bin had filled, blood-sodden, overnight. Today my back yearned for something soft underneath as the pelvic ache grew louder.

The doorbell rang.

My body refused to move but I was waiting for a package to sign for, a gift for Dad. I tried not to think about the rush in my pants when I got up and shuffled, exhausted, to the door. Outside the window stood a man with a pen behind an ear, clipboard in hand. Damn solicitors. He waved hopefully when he caught sight of me. I waved back an angry dismissal and slapped the blinds back against the pane. I was losing my baby, my life a promise of barren existence, and he just wanted my money.

I can do this. It’s a numbers game. Hit 20 homes – that’s at least three sales. 30% commission. Everyday and I’ll get us a two-bedroom and move Janie to a better school. When Laura gets her raise I can go back to one job.

This one looks good. The biggest house on the block. Car in the driveway but no answer. Man, I wanna get home for dinner. Try it again. There you go, I knew you were home. Oh, come on. At least give me a minute. Some people are so rude.


I recently heard a playwright on NPR who, in reference to racial conflict, said we walk into one another’s story everyday. Black people often find themselves trapped in the white imagination when they stumble into fear and ignorance. But it isn’t only across race and color lines that we do this. Every house, every apartment is a story box. We don’t know what just happened behind those closed doors, don’t know who is dying behind that smile. As you read this, a couple is exchanging wedding vows. Some bloggers are cracking jokes. A child’s stomach knots in hunger. A man tosses dirt over his wife’s casket. A girl just landed her dream job. A father of four lost his. Not only was the salesman clueless about the woman’s situation, she was in no position to come out. She didn’t have the wherewithal to step out into his story. We ask and sometimes the answer is no. And it has nothing to do with us.

197 thoughts on “Maybe We Don’t Want to Listen To Your Story

  1. Diana, so is it bad or good we are not involved in others problems? It seems to me everybody of us has our own circle of people to care about. If each of us helps to these people more or less all of the people in trouble are going to be ok. Unfortunately, many people forget to look around and help to somebody who is really close, even relatives, even parents.

    • Yes, very good point, esp about our parents and family, Alex. It wasn’t a prescriptive post as to what we should/not do. More a sober reminder not to take things personally, not to be too disappointed with people, and to recognize that timing plays a big role in the development of relationships. The salesman and the woman could’ve hit it off – on a very different day. It was obviously not for him to judge her as rude. Thanks.

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  3. Powerful stuff here Diana. Thou shalt not judge another until he has walked in their shoes, comes to mind. We as humans tend to take a single moment for granted. We cringe at the thought of getting terminally ill, yet sometimes take for granted the good results we receive from a doctor after having a scary test. We should all remember to have a little compassion and gratitude. xo πŸ™‚

  4. My heart plummeted at “I was losing my baby,” then to turn around and read the salesman’s story. Very compelling and how often we forget that all of us are living a story. Something goes horribly wrong in our lives, we’re angry, hurt and because we feel so helpless we take it out on the call center representative who just came back to work after a series of cancer treatments. Oh, that we would/could take into consideration what the other person might be going through. Thank you D.

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  6. Diana, I now know why this post was left unread until today. Truly an encouraging post especially since I’ve been on the receiving end of ‘NO’ for a while to the point where I refused to see reason. Now I realize, once again, that everyone has a story and the NO’s have nothing to do with us.

    Thank you for giving my perspective back πŸ™‚

  7. I got a bit burned out on writing openly and felt like I’m giving it away- my heart in e-form. I doubt I’d ever meet a reader. I MEANT to be about revelation as maybe others can benefit. Like actual benefit out “there”. You accomplish something that I do not and I think it’s awesome! I am about your age and probably a lot like you in thoughts and personality. I’m 41. I just took a mental age quiz that says I’m 56. It’s exactly what I want to hear because my whole life I have wanted to be that grumpy old man that believes in God caring about everyone. It’s tricky but I think I will pull it off.

    You are a beautiful woman, Diana and your light is like a just-right night-light. May God bless, protect and encourage you and your entire family all the way to the end of the tracks!

    • I don’t have a nephew (or niece) but pieces of their life often find themselves on the pages of writers, don’t they? I appreciate the generous feedback and heartfelt encouragement. Keep writing. We never know who will stumble upon it.


  8. Being tolerant of others is a great gift to have and helps the world go around. Our own needs however will always take presidence and shows that to make others happy one first must fulfill their own happiness /agenda.
    Interesting read thank you. X

  9. very nice post Diana, every body has their one story but we do care about ours only..we are so much in love with me and myself that we hardly care for others…

  10. Thank you for sharing this story. The woman is losing her baby; the solicitor is working to pay their bills, and it is one of the most hated jobs. Everyone has a story. We should be discreet, and learn to move on with our life even if we get upset by someone. There are just a few people who would listen to our story. We have friends and families for a reason – creating good relationships with our close people should be a priority. When it works, the life changes to the better.

    • A most wise, realistic approach to life, Inese. Good for you. And yes, the salesman had his legitimate story and needs as well, as we all do. If circumstances were different, he and the woman could even have hit it off and struck a mutually beneficial relationship. Thank you for the thoughtful read.


      • Agree with you. If only we knew more about each other! Yet, it is hardly possible, so the best thing is caring after those we know, and being nice to those we don’t know πŸ™‚

  11. You raise a lot of great questions, Diana. Everything in life seems like timing. Sometimes we enter and our world is changed. Sometimes the flow is rocky and nothing seems to work. Sometimes we are obtuse and clueless to an other’s anxiety. Sometimes we are so scared we hide behind the blinds and become reclusive only able to take care of our little world and have not the energy to deal with another. Other times, we are fearless and smile and reach out and our world is bright. Such is a single life within all its chapters.

  12. This is a really insightful post. Well thought out and well written. I think it is important for two reasons , one to sympathize with what others may be going through even if their experiences are those we don’t understand. Two, to be cautious not to take behaviors personally because they may be related to what someone is going through in life, not to us.

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  14. Wanna’ hear my story? I have lost four babies and certainly feel what that woman was going through. Now here I am focusing on my pain as though anyone wanted to hear. ❀

      • I know the point of the post was not to say, “See how much I have suffered.” The point was to show that there are trials in every life. I just happened to identify with the girl who couldn’t answer the door. Compassion is what is missing in most situations. We only see our own trauma and fail to understand others.

  15. “…when we discover the true lives of other people, the real world beneath the world of appearance, we get as many surprises as on visiting a house of plain exterior which inside is full of hidden treasures, torture chambers or skeletons.” Marcel Proust

  16. Forgive me for going off post HW. I am trying, yet again, to finish Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” and I came across another quotation which I thought you might appreciate. Proust says that although “happiness is good for the body” , it is “grief which develops the strengths of the mind”, something I have long agreed with. He goes on to say that “A woman whom we need and who makes us suffer elicits from us a whole gamut of feelings far more profound and more vital than does a man of genius who interests us.” The implication is that, if we value our mental capacities, we would be better off pursuing tormented love affairs than reading Socrates and Plato πŸ™‚ I can’t find it now but I believe this sentiment is relevant to an earlier post of yours on the subject of male/female relationships.

    • *Laughing* I’ve always believed as he did. Except I am not sure why it has to be a woman who makes him suffer and why not the genius of a woman that interests.

      “we would be better off pursuing tormented love affairs than reading Socrates and Plato.” Or simply pursuing tormented love. =) Women are not worth it, I say. Give me Plato any day over a girls’ night out.

  17. Ignoring his understandable gender bias, Proust’s point is that being plunged into the emotional maelstrom of an unhappy love affair is an opportunity to grow, while it’s human nature to take for granted the causes of our everyday happiness. Similarly he was skeptical of doctors who studied for years at medical school but did not personally suffer from the ailments they professed to be experts in.

    • Yes, I have written – on the subject of achievement – how necessary resistance and challenge are to growth. But there is a difference in the types of suffering we can enter. There are those that befall us and those we unduly chase.

  18. Proust has Swann, one of his main characters say of a woman he was in love with, β€œhow can I have spent so long with someone who was not to my taste?” Just like the taste of a madeleine involuntarily conjured up the forgotten world of his youth, so Proust believed that desire is embedded in associations that we are mostly unaware of. To what extent did you really choose to feel desire or fall in love with the men in your life? I suggest, with Proust, that your experience was of it happening to you rather than you choosing it to happen.

  19. For myself Diana (speaking from the viewpoint of the salesman), I would see my “still-developing humanity” as the culprit in my rapid-fire judgment of the lady being “rude”. Later that day, hopefully, I would be able to credit the “continuing development” of my spirituality for reminding me that it was not my place to cast judgments upon her, as she could have had any number of very good reasons for not coming to the door, ranging all the way from humorous to life-threatening. And as far as the zeal she used in conveying her message, that could have been as innocent as not wanting me to mistake the waving of her hand as a sign of welcome, a visual cue that I should come on in. But all that said, and laid aside, what is important is the piece you have written, and which has been my pleasure to read. It is because of this quality that you exude, in combination with my own shyness, however, that I want to assure you once again, Even when I’m not commenting, I’m often viewing. Until next time. Have a wonderful Autumn.

    • Thanks, David. The two people could’ve gotten along well in a different season. And he’s working hard for legit goals. We just can’t always take part in one another’s journey, and I appreciate that you make it a point to on A Holistic Journey as time allows. Hope you’ve been well.

      • I have, and I hope you have also. I’m still finding new things to try all the time, and each one of the is just as amazing as the other. I hope you had a wonderful summer and will try and check in again long before winter arrives. Take care, and please stay healthy and safe. You really do make this world a much nicer place.

  20. This is a very good exercise in general. It of course helps us escape the typical “good person” “bad person” way of looking at life, particularly the “this person annoyed me and is thus evil” sort of stuff. I think it’s called the fundamental attribution error.

    That said, the flip side of moving beyond good and evil, the flip side to truly empathizing, is that you can attack that salesman with much more power. You can manipulate that mother much more efficiently. All you have to do is understand motivations rather than taking the lazy way out – “he’s annoying” “she’s rude.”

      • That’s where you prove you’re a man. (I suppose you don’t want to prove otherwise.) I know I speak for the species I hate to represent (per joke on other posts) but he wouldn’t get to finish his word if I heard his thoughts. More importantly, I will bite my tongue re: what a lowlife (oh, did I let it slip?) I’d consider such a person to be who’d dare pitch ANYthing to someone in that situation. So I disagree. Some situations merit and allow nothing but the respect of silence and space. I do appreciate your having thought about this.

      • B, as a woman, the thought of anyone trying to PiTcH anything to a woman in her shoes – esp using her suffering as leverage – is going over my head. You did say manipulate. Thx for comin’.

      • The salesman, for example, is responsible to his family first. So yeah, if he could know that the target demographic was having a lot of miscarriages, he would be very likely to put “XCorp cares about mothers” on the letterhead and across the doors of the company car.

        I think you’ll agree that’s pretty much every marketing campaign ever.

  21. This post, this post, simply leaves me with not enough words. I’ve had four miscarriages and one-still birth and I doubt if I would have been interested in hearing anyone’s sales pitch during those dark days. There’s always a story behind the door, behind a face, inside many cupboards….

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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