My heart is heavy this morning. I had reached out to a member of my family last night with the intention of having a healing conversation and although very little was said, I was activated by the silence on the other end of the phone. It was a planned call - we had agreed on the timing. What I experienced was unexpected. I froze and then “fled” just as I had done a number of times before when encountered with a person or situation that I perceived as “angry.” I felt sad, frustrated and disappointed. And it also shone a light on what still needs to be healed in me that I need to work on outside of that relationship. And so The Great Unfolding continues..
Just because I moved to the beach, does not mean I have escaped from the patterns, behaviors and relationship issues that are alive in my life and in my heart. I continue to learn about myself, how to BE REAL(read about Being Real here) and how to grow in connection with myself and others.
I nurtured my sadness after the call and started down the mental road of what I “should have done or should have said.”
Pretty quickly I made a u-turn and turned my “should into a could.”
It is my work to do and getting stuck in the “should” keeps me stuck in my guilt, shame and anger. Using the word “could” begins the healing and learning process a lot more smoothly - it implies forgiveness and softening to a heart that is feeling tender. “Could” also takes on awareness and an openness to the learning that is necessary for growth. “Could” means being willing to look at myself and what my part is in any situation. Apparently, I was not ready to have a conversation with my family member. I was well-intentioned, as was the other person, but I was not ready. I need more space and time to do my own work.
So this morning, I spent some time in nature, journaled, and on my walk on the beach I started skipping. Yes -skipping. Not because I was feeling light-hearted and happy, but because I knew infusing “play” in that moment would be helpful to my heart.
How many times do we push through things or numb or ignore how we are feeling for the “sake of a relationship” or “to keep the peace” or because it will just take too much energy?
There are so many unhealthy behaviors when it comes to conflict - some of us retreat, some of us dive in head first, some of us avoid, some of us isolate - but rarely do we look at conflict as an opportunity for connection.
Beneath every behavior is a feeling, and beneath every feeling, there is a need. And when we meet the need rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.
I believe conflict is an opportunity to create a deeper connection with ourselves and loved ones. Indifference is the lack of love. But where there is conflict, there is love. Is it easy? No.
It is not anyone else’s responsibility to heal me. I have my faith, trusted confidants, a 12-Step community and a therapist to help me do my work, so I can show up gentler and kinder. Turning “Should into Could” is one tool I can use to have more self-empathy and understanding. The gentler I am to myself, the less reactive I will be and the more I will be able to offer Presence to my children and my other important relationships. Presence is the gateway to authentic connection and relationships.
Others can unknowingly step into our most tender wounds and these wounds are signs of areas of our lives that still need to be healed. Our reactivity and tender parts teach us where we need compassion, love, understanding and connection. We need to learn how to give these qualities to ourselves. It is up to us to break the cycles of anger, anxiety, addiction and abuse that may linger in our family history and play out in our most important relationships.