Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Just the middleman
I have written quite a lot here about work - much of it in jest, some of it serious - and a lot of times I have had to learn to write off the less pleasant parts of it with laughter.
Once in awhile, though, something happens that makes me glow all day long. Or in this case, all week long.
I volunteer facilitating a writing group for people living with mental illness for one of our affiliate chapters. Last week, it was pouring buckets, and I only had one out of the normal five or six regulars show up.
I have always known K - a 26-year-old artist who lives with her parents - as a chatty, can't-wait-to-get-the-words-out-of-her-mouth person. Before the writing group started last year, she was in the art group. I was shocked to find out a little while ago that she hardly spoke in that group at all until she came to my group.
She has told me that being in my group has helped her overcome some of her shyness and initiate conversations with other people. She said she was grateful that the group was free - all of the services and supports the organization I work for are offered free of charge - because she had looked into taking a writing class at a local community college and could not afford it.
And last Saturday, she told me that coming to the group has not only helped her stretch as a writer, but that it has helped her mental health.
Wow. I don't know what her diagnosis is, but that was just a shock - an amazingly pleasant shock - to hear. All of these months I never realized that was happening - and who knows? Maybe some of the others feel that way, too.
It was one of those truly humbling moments because I live with depression and non-chemical things that have lifted me out of it have been few and far between. So I understand what a big deal it is to have something that helps.
The thing is, the group is not about me at all. I start each session telling the writers that the group belongs to them - I just want to be the facilitator. I ask them to flesh out their ideas and challenge themselves, and they do.
I'm just the middleman, but what a great position to fill.
So I suppose the moral of the story is not to underestimate the impact you can have on someone for the positive. Make the time, if you have a couple of hours a week. Someone will be glad that you did.