Saturday, February 27, 2016

Advice for you Walter from Mamma-rae

Hello Walter,

Today I read and shared with you a Jeff Brown quote. I want to focus just a bit on this statement:

“How much work are you willing to do on yourself and the relationship when the s*‪#‎t hits the fan? Are you willing to go as deep as we have to go to work it through, or are you only interested in a breezy, low-maintenance relationship?... Some of us will brave the journey; others will flee the fire.

Most advice about relationships is always written in terms of romantic ones;  the love between a couple.  I think in today’s age we have forgotten that there are many other kinds of relationships that require the same attention and the same amount of work.  

One of the hardest relationships to make work are between parent and child once the child is a grown up.
  The nature of the relationship changes from caregiver and care receiver to equals as adults, each in their own right.  Parents may be a little slow to give up on the caregiver role, but newly adult children also have a hard phase to go through, accepting that their parents make mistakes and yet in spite of those mistakes remain good and caring people.

I see this stage go wrong so many times in my work with estranged parents.  Yes dear grandson, my estrangement from your mother has led me down a path of reflections about estrangement and the writing of my thoughts has lead to a blog that is followed by growing numbers ever day.  The sad thing is the shear numbers!  So many young adults are choosing estrangement because it offers the easy solution.  It bypasses the need to work on the relationship, they “flee from the fire”. 

Maybe the parents made mistakes but for the most part those mistakes are not so egregious.  The setting of limits, the encouraging to do better and to become good citizens requires discipline and limit setting, but that is done with a desire to help the child become an autonomous adult, not from a place of desiring to do harm.

And while these young adults now shun the parents for not “handling things better” we the parents realize that our faults run rather to the things we failed to teach.  

One of the things that I failed to teach relates to the Jeff Brown quote.  I failed to teach that ALL relationships require work especially during the difficult times.  Yes I role modeled by showing how I cared for my mother and my in laws even when they were not easy to get along with.  But apparently role modeling is not enough.  If I had it to do over again I would have more sit down talks about the values of being a good friend and the challenges of working on relationships. 

I know, it would be more of the “talks” that young people hate, when mom or dad tries to teach morals and values.  But in the absence of the hated talks, children grow up to be adults that don’t realize the implications and ramifications of destroyed relationships when they are not worked on. 

Relationships are easy when the day to day pathway is smooth and unencumbered.  However, not every day is smooth; there are often bumps in the road.  I have come to believe that we are not tested on the smooth days rather we are tested on the rough and bumpy days. How we navigate those bumps determines the kind of person we are for they test our character.  Are we capable to charting a course with meaningful dialogue and communication to nurture a relationship that we value?  Or do we flee the fire to avoid the discomfort of growth?  How quickly do we learn the lesson that relationships have value and require dedicated effort?

Sadly we are now into a generation that likes things easy.  When things get tough, they bail.  Walking away is easier than the hard work of reflection and growth and change.  Walking away means not facing personal demons in favour of placing all blame on the abandoned person.  Even if the abandoned person were willing to work on the relationship they do not have the opportunity for they have been left behind as the seeker goes on to new relationships in the hopes that they have found the new perfect. 

Except of course there is no “perfect” there is only different.  And what happens when imperfections start to show in the new relationship?  Will they have learned from the past or will they repeat the easy path of running away? 

For you see dear grandson, I fear that once the easier path has been taken it sets up a pattern of abandoning relationships when the going gets tough.  It is the act of learning how to work through our first troubled relationship, the one between the child growing to be an independent adult and parent, that we learn how to manage other relationships in our lives. 

When we give up on that relationship, how do other relationships stand a chance when we have not learned the skills needed to communicate, negotiate and grow?  When we have learned that giving up or walking away is easier than learning and changing and compromise, we bring that acceptance for the “easy way out” to all other relationships on into the future.

Surely not all relationships are meant to be strong and lasting.  I accept and acknowledge that. However to not even try to work through problems before getting to a place of agreement, even if that agreement is to walk separate paths, diminishes us and diminishes what we could become. 

My wish for you dear grandson is that you learn that all relationships (not just romantic ones) have value and because of that value they deserve the effort and time taken to work through problems and issues.  I wish for you the strength of character to face those challenges with courage.  Work to reach a place of agreement for moving forward even if the moving forward is in separate directions, at least you will know with certainty that you put in the work both on yourself and on the relationship.  

I wish also for you to know dear grandson, that not every person you meet will have those values and so you must be prepared for those who toss you aside rather than work on a relationship with you.  That is just the nature of people who have learned to take the easy way out.

Love always
your Mamma-rae

2016 - 02 - 27
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Post Estrangement: learning to expand my life

I fight a constant battle to be aware of what makes my world smaller.  Focusing on the things that I have lost in life shrinks my world down to the size of the pain and the heartache. 

Every day I strive to enlarge my world.  I do this not by denying what has happened to me but by acknowledging the life changing events of my life.  I acknowledge the hurting and the pain and the sadness but then I celebrate that I am here to feel those emotions as part of a wider kaleidoscope of feelings.  And after acknowledging that the sorrow for what I have lost is an integral part of my life, I then turn to the wonders and bounty and beauty in my life waiting to be appreciated. 

  • As I turn my thoughts to what I have, my world expands to encompass all the many loves and joys that I am blessed with.
  • As I turn to face the good in my life, my world grows to embrace all the people and experiences that I can be inspired by and learn from.
  • As I embrace the joy of the possibilities in the now, I leave behind the regrets of the past in acceptance of what is.
  • As I turn to this moment of this day that is given to me, I acknowledge that life is what it is, even when it isn’t what I would have it be.
This acceptance allows me to expand my consciousness,  to expand my generosity and forgiveness, to expand my acceptance and compassion to include even those who have done me wrong.

The journey to enlarge my world is not an easy one, it is far easier to turn inward, to shrink from growing and living and loving again. 

I am reminded often that:
  • Courage is doing what needs to be done even when it is easier to turn aside, to give up, to give in.
  • Strength is doing and taking the steps, even when you feel like not doing.
  • Finding a way to heal is making room for the possibility even when filled with doubt that it is even possible.

My life is bigger today because I dare to expand my world beyond grief and sorrow, because I dare to hope that life after trauma is worth living and because I have come to believe that I deserve better than I have been given; and that I will not give up until fully I realize that enthusiastic and life affirming exuberance that is my right.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2016 - 02 - 14

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My journal blog entries are copyright
I love when you share my page to spread the word.
If you want to quote me I kindly ask that you please provide a link back to my page.