Dear lifeline,

Looking back on my journey -the greatest gift that you gave me was to show me who I am without my jobs or studies. It's ironic-I feel like I really shone when no one knew who and what I was-I thrived more when I felt less pressure to be someone. I loved Neil and Lynette and my group. Its sad, I feel like I’ve  lost that space - that safe space that you gave me each week to show up and truly be seen.

 

You also helped me to in many ways pick up the pieces of a heart that I didn’t realise was quite as broken as it truly was. You taught me that I  will always feel something, but that’s not the same as before.

 

You helped me to learn that I am capable of standing up for myself and that I can progress in that area - which  I rarely have at work.

 

You have opened up my life by guiding me through the wonders that lie at the core of an empathic heart. You ever so gently showed me what it is like to make space for myself and others-  I don’t always do that, but I am trying.

 

I learnt that the world is in some ways so different, yet we all go through the same stuff. There is a huge sense of similarity at the heart of life.

 

The only way that I can thank you, is by doing my best to live the life that you want for me. A kind life, a compassionate one- a person centred one. I promise that I will try my best to spread your legacy and to most of all, do my best to allow people the chance to be as seen and heard as you have made me feel.

 

Thank you for everything and just know that you will always be close to my heart.


LISTEN – a poem written by someone who just understands how important listening is when counselling.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you start giving me advice,

You have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you begin to tell me ‘why’ I shouldn’t feel that way,

You are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me

And you feel you have to do something to solve my problems,

You have failed me, strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen;

Not talk, nor do – just hear me.

And I can do for myself – I’m not helpless

Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me, that I can and need to do for myself,

You contribute to my fear and weakness.

But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel,

No matter how irrational

Then I quit trying to convince you

And can get about the business of understanding

What’s behind this irrational feeling?

When that’s clear,

The answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense when we

Understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works sometimes for some people;

Because God is mute, and doesn’t give advice to try to ‘fix’ things,

He/She just listens, and lets you work it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me, and if you want to talk,

Wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you.

Anon 




One of the things that LifeLine knows so well is the sadness that many clients suffer when there is a life that is just not working out for them.                                          

The hand you’re dealt is seldom svelte


The hand you’re dealt along this path

Is sometimes harsh and cruel.

You just cannot escape the truth

That earth is one tough school.
 

Without an explanation.

A bolt out of the blue.

There’s little consolation

As you feel the turning screw.

 
One hundred million questions

Infiltrate your mind.

But answers aren’t forthcoming

To get you out this bind.

 
Can leave you shocked and reeling

Bewildered, dazed and raw.

Need every ounce of courage

To rise up off the floor.

Vincent Higgins

                 

Many calls that Lifeline gets are about addiction and the despair addicts go through. This poem sums it up so well.

 Addiction


There’s this curse that is a craving

And it courses through one’s veins.

Wreaks such untold crushing mayhem

Time and time and time again.

 
Has a single minded focus

Casts its spell and weaves its web.

Disregards your voice of reason

And all those times NO has been said.

 
With an urge that’s so compelling

And the promise of quick relief.

Treats your will with rank derision

Yet the fix is oh so brief.

 
Scoffs and scorns at all the warnings

Turns a deaf ear to your pleas.

Cold and cruel and ever ruthless

Brings you swiftly to your knees.

 
It's this heartless, wicked monster

That’s ensnared you in its lair.

To escape its evil clutches

Must be bold and have to dare.

 Vincent Higgins

 
These are poems written by a course attendees in 2013 and 2016 about the journey of the LifeLine course and how sometimes it was really hard for those attending. 
                 

The Group


Listen beneath the surface

Look behind the smile.

Within the silent shadow

Hides a daily trial.

 
Much courage did I witness

Great lessons did I learn.

To be part of such a gathering

My mind will often turn.
 
   Vincent Higgins 2013

 

It wasn’t enough


The nine gathered, with two able guides, to start a journey 
(none really knew where)
A band of individuals tentative, hopeful, fearful, forceful 
attempting to explore something un-named
to prove something un-nameable

Histories, stories and experience flowed:
Someone alone, but the centre and strength of a family

– and yet it wasn’t enough
Shattered dreams, but growing to accept and fiercely love

– and yet it wasn’t enough
Great ills and illness, overcome by growing gentle and kind

– and yet it wasn’t enough
Broken childhoods, and surviving and fighting through

– and yet it wasn’t enough
Identity lost and a self hidden, becoming urgent and assertive –

and yet it wasn’t enough
Returning to turmoil, within and without, but clear and incisive –

and yet it wasn’t enough
Hiding long years of hurt with optimism –

and yet it wasn’t enough
Diminished in role and standing, yet striving and probing –

and yet it wasn’t enough
A nomad shamed and shameful, but pushing bravely on through

– and yet it wasn’t enough

But slowly, 
in time metered out by our own courage 
finding expression in a place slowly warming, 
a space gradually more familiar and shared, safer
We let our guard down, allowed the mask to slip

Sometimes falling, sometimes cracking, sometimes shattering
many years of defence so carefully and needfully constructed 
fall, slip, fade

Open and vulnerable – for some, for me, to feel some of what had felt 
beyond feeling, Beyond coping, Beyond sharing
mine alone

Beyond understanding and words, we started to sense that it was enough
to listen and share, to bear witness to our fellows

To be present

Sometimes in silence 
(alone on those sleepless Wednesday nights), 
sometimes in union and unison with the group, 
sometimes in words, 
sometimes in expressions and eyes alone

We listened to past, to present and futures
We shared hurt, shared fear and shame
We witnessed dreams broken, myths shattered, selves and souls renewing

We were present with sorrow – and not disheartened
We were present with anger – and not afraid
and felt in others something familiar 
a little less threatening and much less ugly than seen in ourselves alone

We shared laughter and mirth, 
joy and rejection, 
breaking and breakthrough, 
ruin and growth

Sometimes painful, sometimes angry, 
or fragile, or gentle
But shared, acknowledged, respected

It wasn’t enough to sit by idly, 
alone
buffered and buffeted by this – this frail, fraught, strong and mercurial life
It was – and is – enough to simply be active and present, with another
worthy to share and be part of the chaos of collective experience

And know that we are not alone – That now seems enough

Barry Hearne


Lifeline group once graduated and the great way they feel when they are ready to help others.

LifeLine Graduation Group 2013 Poem



The course is done, the grads are ready

Your minds they’ll ease and hearts they’ll steady.

To hear your plight and help you on

They like it when your stress is gone.

 
So if you’re low or feeling down

There is one place to call in town.

A call to Life Line in Norwood

Where you’ll be heard and understood.
 

Our work is both a skill and art

With every end there’s a brand new start.

As constant growth is what takes place

Whether on the phone or face to face.

 Vincent Higgins

 
This poem is about time how and how we cannot ever control Time

 Time



The march and the mend

Sometimes foe sometimes friend

Always quiet but never still

Has its own silent will.

 
Shows no malice has no favourites

Be they sinners, saints or zealots

Can’t be stopped by bombs or bullets

Slow as treacle flies like rockets.


Can break it down but never break it

That’s the truth never mistake it

Of such great value yet so squandered

A timeless fact but seldom pondered.


Without a trace does quickly vanish

Often leaves us with great anguish.

Can’t be bottled can’t be kept

Those who’ve tried have only wept.

 
On and on and on it goes

Cascading rivers gentle flows.

Is both your helper and your master

And with each year it travels faster.
 

Can heal can harm with any stroke

Yet cares not what it does evoke.

Gone for good yet more will come

Such an eternal conundrum.

Vincent HIggins

Contacts

  • 011 728 1331
  • 011 728 3497
  • lifeline@lifelinejhb.org.za
  • 2 The Avenue
  • Cnr Henrietta Street
  • Norwood, Johannesburg
  • 011 728 1347

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