I received a disheartening message on my cell from my nine-year-old daughter last week. She told me about her feelings that I don’t care about her and that she felt bullied by me that day. Oh my…
She also reported that she no longer wanted to talk to me, ever…ouch.
She initially called me three times from her dad’s house because she wanted help solving a problem she was having. She was very, very sad and frustrated.
My first response was to ask her what she thought were some good ideas to handle the problem, and then I asked if she wanted a few ideas from me.
The mom/caretaker/fixer came out in me, and wanting to “fix” her sadness and discomfort, I made a stupid joke and then laughed lightly afterwards.
She hung up on me. She thought I was laughing at her, and bullying her.
I tried to call her back, and she didn’t want to talk to me, but she left me another message explaining her feelings about why she no longer wanted to talk to me…thank you, Uni-verse. I am blessed that I have a strong-willed daughter who is willing to call it out, get pissed, and set some serious boundaries…skills I am still learning in my middle age.
Truth be told, I want to soak up her pain like a sponge, sweep it up into a corner, or wave my sparkly momma wand and make everything magical again, but I know in my soul these coping mechanisms are not in the best interest of amazing Chloe–AND (good reminder), they are about ME, not her.
In many of my not so greatly-functioning past relationships, I have made excuses for not being a good listener. I was too busy reacting and rationalizing my own stuff to really listen. Tonight, when I talked to my daughter, I asked her if I could explain myself and she simply said, “No!” (and quickly hung up the phone).
I texted Chloe’s dad tonight and wrote the following:
WILL YOU PLEASE SHARE WITH CHLOE THAT I AM SORRY I WASN’T BEING A GOOD LISTENER AND I WAS MAKING EXCUSES.
Thank you, Chloe, for the reminder.
I love you,
Relationships are such a delicate dance. One minute we are close–enjoying the warm intimacy of a friend, lover, or family member, and then, to our dismay, one or both parties hurt each other, saying or doing things that break the trusted bond between them. Trying to bridge back after the hurt and reach a new level of understanding can be one of the biggest challenges in life—but also one of the most rewarding.
After the hurt, the break in communication, or the crossing of a boundary (what I call a disrepair), a relationship can become a container for growth (words from one of my mentors, Mastin Kipp) and an opportunity for a deepening of connection IF the parties are willing to come back together, share their feelings with each other, and renegotiate the rules of their connection.
In some cases, people in a relationship need space–and it may take some time to get to a place where the relationship can benefit from honest and open disclosure of feelings and events that led up to the disrepair. Sometimes, people simply need to take time apart, lick their wounds, and move on to process with someone else other than the person with whom they experienced the disrupt.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the act of apologizing and the act of forgiveness. I believe it takes great courage to apologize authentically from a place of true remorse and willingness to see the parts in myself that I need to look at and possibly shift. It’s not a place of I’m sorry, but…
It’s a genuine place of “I hurt you. I’m so sorry. It will not happen again.”
What are your experiences of apology and forgiveness? Share your story in the comments!
So much love…
p.s. Go(o)d news! My daughter, Chloe, is speaking to me again!
Here’s what the conversation was:
“Chloe, this is Mom.”
“Are you okay talking to me?”
“I’m so sorry I was a crappy listener. I totally sucked. I just want you to know that I treasure and want to hear about your feelings, and…”
“Mom, it’s okay…I was really mad.”
“Honey. I am learning how to be a good listener, and I WAS NOT A GOOD listener to you tonight. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
“Yes, Mom. I love you. You get it. I forgive you.”
“Thanks, honey. I love you to the moon & back.”
“Love you moon & back!”
Forgiveness is grace. How beautiful to teach our children this gift.
Dana Lynne Curry, Ph.D., has been teaching middle school English (with no low bun) for over 23 years. She is a gReaT-fuL Writer, Storyteller, Teacher, Student, Irreverent GoofBall, Blogger, Servant, Philosopher, Spiritual Collagist (is that a word?), Mama, LoVer of LiFe!, Amazing Friend, and one cOOL pUsSy caT!! Find Dana at funfreeME on Facebook and on Twitter @funfreeMe1.