Speaking Truth, Facing Fear

One of the things that is hard about changing yourself is that you have to figure out how to be in relationship with people in a new way. This can prove to be especially challenging when it comes to relationships that have been around a long time. If the changes you’ve made upset the general make up of the status quo in the relationship, you’re going to need to have a chat with them. Or, you could just avoid the relationship. Which, telling you from experience, will only work for a short period of time and then you’re probably going to have to suck it up and talk.

You see, I have this mental list of people I need to have a sit down with. A Relationship Summit type of talk if you will. Because I no longer feel like I can comfortably exist in the confines of the relationship without speaking up about the truth of my feelings and my heart’s hope for the future of our relationship.

Am I looking forward to doing this? Um, no. Absolutely not. I’m pretty much postponing it for as long as I can and/or avoiding any deep conversation with these folks. I figure I will a) eventually get so uncomfortable, I will be forced to do it or b) they will call me out on being weird/different and I can’t lie my way out of it (Note: I am a terrible liar) or c) I find my bravery and just do it. C would be preferable.  Now if I could only find my bravery.

This weekend my mom and I had lunch. I will admit I was anxious about it because from my perspective, my mom and I have not been getting along for a couple of months years. Lately, I’ve been avoiding having any one-on-one time with her in an effort to keep a hard conversation at bay. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want to get hurt. Blah, blah, blah. I had a lot of reasons but really it all boiled down to fear.

My relationship with my mom isn’t one I go into here very often. She reads my blog (hi mom) and for the most part, I’ve found it easier to talk about my other parent, the one who passed away 19 years ago. I’ve spent a long time in the throes of my grief over my relationship with my dad and it’s just recently that I feel a sense of acceptance and peace with it which I guess is why I now feel like I can face my relationship with my mom.

Basically, my mom and I have some deep stuff to work out and there was no way it was going to get better or we were going to have the closeness I (we) want without a heart-to-heart. I’ve spent most of my life putting up a barrier between my family and me as a way of keeping me safe because I didn’t feel emotionally safe in the family. I acted like I had it covered, that I was strong, that I didn’t need anyone when in truth what I wanted and needed was the exact opposite. I have come off as angry and ferociously independent to the point that it has alienated me from them. My mom has given me space because she didn’t know what else to do. To her it seemed like that is what I wanted and that I didn’t like her or being around her.

The last thing I wanted was space. I can admit that now and did so to my mom over salads at a restaurant where hits from my high school years played over the speakers and I tried to hide that I was crying from the other diners.

I didn’t want that space. I wanted my mom to see I was hurting and stuck under a burden of pain that I didn’t know how to give voice to. My mom did the best she could in a difficult situation. I can empathize with her, especially now as a grown up trying to have a successful, healthy relationship with Mr. Darcy. Through tears we managed to talk through some very difficult subject matter. I really can’t recall ever telling my mom that my feelings were hurt before- maybe when I was a kid but not as an adult. But there I was, saying it, while “Tainted Love” played.

The thing is- I want to have a good relationship with my mom. I want us to enjoy each other. I don’t want to waste any more time being angry about stuff that can’t be changed. It turns out I just needed my mom to hear I was hurt and for her to acknowledge it and say “I’m sorry”. I don’t know if I could have had that conversation any earlier as much as I wish I hadn’t wasted time being mad or feeling hurt. Everything happens in its own time, right? I’m just grateful that we took that first step towards healing. I hope we can both continue to work on our relationship and have fun together again.

I’m pondering the other conversations I need to have and trying to work up the courage to start them. If I ultimately want closeness with people it’s going to take me being vulnerable and brave. I’m going to have to speak up. I’m going to have to acknowledge my feelings and my behavior. Because if I really am different, than this is part of the new me.

14 thoughts on “Speaking Truth, Facing Fear

  1. I get along really well with my mom, and I have for years.. but I totally know what you mean. I am always setting more boundaries, getting deeper into issues that are there, and working things out further. I am lucky that my mom listens to me when I say something is wrong, and she tries to work on things with me.

    I think not only will your relationships change when you change, but they always keep changing. My therapist always reminds me that you don’t really have to be friends with people “forever” if it’s not working out, and you aren’t getting enough out of it.

  2. Isn’t it amazing the way we hide ourselves from acting the way we want to with those who matter to us? It takes us so much and so long to come around to seeing what we need and what we need to do about it. Getting to it must be what life’s all about. I hope that’s it because it crowds out almost everything else!

  3. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to have a heart-to-heart with your mom, and that it went well. My husband did the same thing with his mom about two years ago. Unfortunately, rather than the “I’m sorry” he so desperately wanted to hear, she turned on him and said he was an awful person. I’m so happy to hear yours had such a positive outcome!

  4. Good job, dude. It’s horrible to feel like fear is running your life and doing what you are doing is the only way to break out of that rut.
    Love you.

  5. The saying goes that in tough times, you find out who your friends are based on the people who really support you. But, it strikes me that in good times, you get to choose those people you want in your closest circle. I think it’s pretty cool that you are looking at the people in your life, choosing those who are most important to you and having emotional conversations with them to ensure they remain on your team.

  6. Go Sizzle! I have had those conversations with my parents and it is so scary. But it’s worth it, I think. Whenever you get to say your truth, no matter what the result, it feels worth it to me. Congratulations and good luck for the rest of them. And yes, as much as I wish I could have these the moment I need to, I think they are spaced out perfectly somehow. So take your time and get your rest and all that and they will unfold.

  7. I read this yesterday while I was in bed sick. It really touched me and got me thinking about who I might need to have these kind of tough conversations with. Bravo to you!

  8. These things definitely come in their own time and they also take time. Can’t be rushed. What’s awesome is that you are doing something to move ahead and try and pave a positive route. You can do this for sure. Just takes a bit of time.

  9. Wow. Good for you for talking to your mom. And getting ready for the rest of the talks. These kind of talks are so difficult which is why we all avoid them. There are a few things I would like to talk to family members about, but just don’t. I should.

  10. I think it’s so great that you can get to a place where you’re willing to examine your closest relationships in order to do what’s best for you, while also salvaging the relationship. And that is the hard part, that last bit. I have examined and then ended plenty of relationships throughout my life, but to do it for the better? That is big stuff. That is not I-will-just-wash-my-hands-of-it stuff. It’s scary, but so much better and eventually as you work through it you feel that much more comfortable in your own self.

  11. You’re brave. And awesome. And I think people who are your real friends and family that care about you would want the opportunity to say “I’m sorry I hurt you and I love you.” if you gave it to them. I know if a friend came to me and said I had hurt her/him and they felt bad all this time, I would much rather have the chance to apologize and make things right–and knowing what I now knew, maybe even treat them differently/better as a result. You can do it!

  12. I had a conversation like this with my mom when I was about 18. I didn’t plan it, it sort of happened, and after the hurt, the crying, the anger, we became best friends. That was 20 years ago and now I can say my mom is truly one of my best friends. I’m glad you had the conversation and opened the door to healing. It will only get better from here on, you’ll see.

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