I’m going to try to write 500 words a day. Because really, having your family coming into town for the holidays and going to your family’s house out of town for the holidays a day later, and getting ready for all that demands, isn’t enough of a challenge. Well, that’s 45 words.
I spent three days this week off and on in tears. I was stuck in a situation with someone I love that I didn’t know how to fix. Turns out, talking was all that was needed, and surprisingly, a little yelling helped too. I was reminded how ill prepared we are by society, by our families to deal with conflict. My mom didn’t like conflict, and often conceded things to keep the peace. I don’t blame her for this. Actually, it’s a perfectly understandable response to chaotic, volatile people, and haven’t we all, by choice or birth or accident, been in a situation where a little conflict avoidance was necessary?
Interestingly, she also always told my brothers and I to “never go to bed mad” and often kept us up late into the night trying to talk through our anger at one another. I can remember once being so tired that I couldn’t think straight, sitting on the stairs up to my brother’s loft/bedroom with my hands cradling my head, which felt too heavy to hold up on my neck alone, and trying to get away with a surrendered, “Fine, I’m sorry, can we go to bed now?” My mom knew I didn’t mean it and kept at us. I think a lot of times, we’d lose steam and end up laughing at whatever we were fighting about. She really believed it was unhealthy to go to bed with anger in your heart for the people you love, so she made sure we came to some peace in our arguments.
So avoid and stay in it. Which is exactly what I did this week.
I slept poorly, wrote sadly, angrily, heart-brokenly, talked to a couple trusted friends about how to proceed, and generally whipped up the pain into a frenzy until I couldn’t stand it any longer.
But then came the honesty, the kind that is about our deep motivations and hurts and fear, and it was such a balm to hurt feelings, that I came to understand my mom’s edict a little better. When I talked, finally, for 90 minutes or more, with my loved one, my soul just relaxed and made space for this person’s pain and for my own, my heart flooded all that hurt with such a tender compassion. The solution, the right way forward, was illuminated by mutual understanding.
It wasn’t easy, but when we kept at, because after all, we are truly committed to one another and our relationship, we were able to communicate in a way that honored both of our experiences pretty profoundly. I am a different person, and hopefully a better one, today than I was three days ago because of this conversation. I understand more about how risky loving another person can be, how easily such trust can be challenged, and how important it is to honor the people we love in ways that really matter.
There. 540 words for Christmas Eve Day.