Alone somewhere in an assisted living group home sits a woman who like many I get to see had a life changing event where everything that she knew was instantly gone. She lost her family, her job, her home, and possibly her purpose.
Everyday is the same existence; eat, sleep, eat, maybe occasionally go into the community, eat, sleep, repeat. There is never a visitor and never anything that provides meaning to her day. I show up once per month to attempt some group yoga classes, however, most of the women living in this house decline to attend, except this lovely lady I will call Patricia.
On my last visit I had the opportunity to work 1:1 with her and address some of her challenges. I knew she had a painful shoulder from her accident and subsequent surgeries so I wanted to see if I could get some pain relief and mobility into her shoulder. Like all my sessions, there is a lot of dialogue and attempts to find connection. I know from my nearly two decades of teaching yoga to unique populations, the one thing that they want more than any physical practice is to feel part of something and to feel seen.
Isn’t that a universal desire? I believe our greatest human need it to simply be seen.
For the hour that we spent together, I learned about her accident and what her life was life before the event. I learned about her dreams, her mistakes, her shame and her hopes for her life. I learned what it means to her to be a mom and a grandmother. I learned that we are the same age, minus a few months difference. I learned about her hard upbringing and getting lost in her youth. I learned the details of her accident that was nearly thirty years ago.
For thirty years, Patricia has lived in this same existence. Thirty years is more than half her life. Half of her life has been lived alone, isolated, without meaning and incredibly lonely.
Towards the end of our session, I wanted to have a closer look at her shoulder and see if I would be able to get some movement and comfort into her body. I whipped out my trusted essential oil blend for pain and began to apply it slowly and gently to her arm and shoulder area. Human touch has a powerful effect and is so under implemented in our sterile world. No words were exchanged as I gently moved her arm in circles and into extension and flexion. I was careful to not do much as I did not know for sure the extent of her surgery and rehab.
I asked her, “how does that feel?”
She looked at me, and with tears in her eyes, she said, “like I matter”.
I rarely show my emotions, especially with my students. I am incredibly careful and cognizant of not coming across as a person who pities them or feels “bad” for them. That is not what they want, but her words struck my heart and tears filled my eyes instantly.
Can you imagine feeling so lonely and forgotten that simply having one person pay attention to you for thirty minutes gives you the feedback that you truly do matter?
Her answer had nothing to do with her shoulder pain and everything to do with her heart pain. I knew that in that instant, I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and she gave me such a gift that day.
I continue to think about how my actions remind people that they do matter. I get to be the giver of goodness. I get the privilege of sharing my day with them and learning how to make a difference in the lives of others.
When was the last time you felt like you matter? When was the last time you helped someone see that they matter? You just never know how your actions are influencing others. Can you say that your actions give light to the darkness that others experience?
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2 thoughts on “Like I Matter”
This article is a beautiful reminder of the power of human connection and the impact one person can have on another’s life. It’s heartwarming to see the positive effect that a simple act of kindness can have on someone who has been living in loneliness for over half of their life.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the beautiful words and encouragement.