Hinemoa Elder

Sunday Star-Times - - Focus -

Kia ora, e pe¯ hea ana koe? Hi, how are you? I have been asked that a fair bit over the past week or so. I sup­pose a few peo­ple know I had my ap­pen­dix out – also I haven’t been look­ing so well, so it is kind of ob­vi­ous some­thing is up.

Mostly, I have been brave enough to say, ‘‘You know what? I’m not feel­ing that great. I’m in a fair bit of post­op­er­a­tive pain, I’m not sleep­ing well, my bowel is not work­ing prop­erly, and it’s frus­trat­ing me that I’m not get­ting bet­ter faster.’’

What has been re­ally pow­er­ful is that peo­ple have lis­tened and been very car­ing. I’m not used to be­ing reached out to like that, to be hon­est. I’m usu­ally the one look­ing af­ter other peo­ple. It has given me a lot of in­sight into the need for us to be real about how we are ac­tu­ally feel­ing and cop­ing with the re­al­ity of our lives.

What tends to hap­pen more of­ten is the ‘‘How are you? I’m fine’’ dance. Su­per­fi­cial, be­cause we all buy into the ‘‘busy’’ equals ‘‘I am of value’’ prin­ci­ple of life. In other words, the un­spo­ken code is: I’m too busy to be any­thing other than fine and you are too busy to lis­ten if I’m not, so what’s the point in shar­ing any­thing real? You know what I mean, right? Guilty as charged, we are all highly pro­fi­cient at this.

Be­cause I have heal­ing sur­gi­cal in­ci­sions to prove my state of re­cov­ery, I have things to point the prover­bial stick at. And this un­der­lines for me yet again how un­car­ing our so­ci­ety is around peo­ple heal­ing and re­cov­er­ing from con­di­tions with­out ex­ter­nal scars.

Peo­ple in the midst of, on the edge of, or work­ing their way through var­i­ous states of emo­tional pain and suf­fer­ing re­main largely un­no­ticed, and worse – they know the so­cial code that re­quires they are sup­posed to re­main un­no­ticed, in­vis­i­ble. The pain is to be hid­den, thank you very much.

We are a long, long way from build­ing car­ing com­mu­ni­ties where peo­ple feel safe to talk openly about what

Poipoia te ka¯kano, kia pua¯wai.

Nur­ture the seed in or­der to sup­port flour­ish­ing.

Tick­ets from awt.org.nz. Promo code: TO­GETHER for a $15 early bird of­fer. A per­cent­age of ticket sales will be go to The Key to Life Char­i­ta­ble Trust.

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