Today I mourn the loss of someone I once called friend.
Time and distance have intervened and that has given me the opportunity to look with fresh eyes at our dynamic. I know how I’ve changed. I used to be the person who tip toed around their difficult feelings. I walked on eggshells and felt it was my responsibility to fix things, to do what was necessary to make them feel better.
It’s a coping mechanism I learned from my parents who often tag-teamed me in their dynamic of misdirected emotions. At the end of a long and difficult day my mother would go into the kitchen and slam cupboard doors. Then she would unceremoniously dump dinner on the table and go to bed with a headache. That was when my father would turn to me and say, “Look what you did to your mother.”
My parents wielded their feelings like sabers and it has taken me a lifetime to recognize the amount of blame, shame and feelings of personal responsibility I absorbed from that dynamic.
As an adult I’m learning that the only way to win is not to play the game. Change comes from within.
On this very human of journeys, I accept that feelings are an important dimension. I pride myself on being a sounding board for other people’s difficult feelings; but I will not accept blame or shame. I did not cause them. We all need that safe place, that safe harbor where we can express the good bad, ugly and complicated feelings. A neutral space, without judgement; a good listener and support as we work through your options. But I insist we all learn to take ownership of our respective feelings and lose this petty tendency to blame or shame others.
Today I mourn the loss of a friend.