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.