1984. My mother was playing the piano in an empty church, when I jumped up beside her and asked if Santa really existed. Coming from a family of ‘better out – than in’ theories, she didn’t hesitate:
‘Thought not.’ was my response – aged 4. I then proceeded to sing hallelujah, in entirely the wrong key.
From this moment, I always preferred the truth to comfort; the reality over the fantasy.
My finest connections have always been with people who told me the real deal. Those who moaned about people, but never approached the culprit themselves, were always the ones (for me) to keep at bay. It wasn’t the talking behind the backs of people (we need advice on matters), but it showed a weakness that they didn’t have the testicular fortitude to respect that person with some honesty or they were too scared for the backlash.
And I’ve never been a fan of wimps.
The word ‘confrontation’ terrifies the Twinings out of the Brits. I believe us not bravely communicating our feelings is a gigantic reason for divorce, illness and a plethora of bad behaviour. It builds up over the decades and before you know it, you’re being introduced to Francesca, your husband’s new secretary, who is passing your belongings to you in a bin liner and asking for the return of your house key.
It’s the downward spiral with oiled down flooring. Whilst watching marriage counseling out here in California, I’ve observed couples from 6 months of marriage to 35 years, go through their issues and discover things that they never knew about each other before. All because they are a) talking and b) being asked the right questions. The majority of the time, we’ve been too scared of the answer.
I wasn’t overtly joyous that Santa was as phony as Eddie Antar but it meant I knew who’s really delivering the presents. My thank you letters were being read. By my mother.
This needn’t be a negative juncture. Honour between two people can’t exist without brave communication. There’s a difference between accusation and confrontation. If I’m confronted – it means they trust me; they know me well enough that I prefer the truth over stupid excuses for unhealthy behavior.
With correct delivery (gentleness, questions not accusations, ownership over our own feelings and maybe you buy the cappuccino) I can respond back, with some grace – because I’m strong enough in myself to know I can handle it. Either I alleviate them from their worries, apologise if I got something wrong, or rearrange a perspective that is incorrect to my own intentions. This isn’t about highlighting hurt or someone’s self-sabotaging talents – it’s for the other person to know who you are.
If people don’t communicate a problem, then there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s their choice to carry that for winter hibernation. I am not mystic meg. Not everyone has the same coding as each other – so discern wisely.
Before accusing people of feeling something they may not even feel – begin to create sentences with ‘help me understand….’ ‘I don’t feel loved when you xxxx’, ‘I want to know you…’. The less offended you get by the answers, the more in touch you probably are with your identity.
Your intention is to stay connected – not to win.
If we can take it; if we wear a ‘bring out my crap’ badge – then I improve. If we are unoffendable by other’s opinions, we begin to know ourselves more. Because no more is confrontation considered criticism. I’m not so insecure to hear someone else’s feeling to Usain Bolt from them or suggest they are the one with the issues.
So we need to be approachable for that communication. We need to be ready at all times. We need to feed back if we’re hurting, without accusation, with an open mind that we could be wrong. We need to get used to that too. It helps you become known.
Folded into the depths of those words amongst two people, is a silent need to connect.; a wish to ask the elephant to leave the room. That’s respect. That’s honesty. That’s truth. That’s new levels of connection.
Just 2 weeks ago I asked one of my ‘brothers’ to list the things that may cause concern in him about me. Stunned that he was given the green card to share it:
‘Are we really going there?’ he asked.
‘Yeah. Come on. What freaks you out about me?’
‘Okay’ and so he began, just a couple of entries on his list, looking away most of the time. He obviously hadn’t been able to share this rawness to many women before without Niagara Falls raging from their tear ducts, or a hurled Wedgewood plate as defense.
‘I agree’. I smile.
‘Yes. I’m a work in progress – What else you got?’
‘You’re from England.’
‘I’m sorry…why should being from England be a negative?’
‘I don’t know, I’m just trying to find something else to add to the list’.
Without fail in the past 3 months, whenever I’ve bought up the stuff that people don’t usually want to talk about, or fear they will be swallowed whole – there’s been an even greater connection. You’ve shared intimacy on areas most people won’t feel they can talk to you about. You share more than what most people dare tread the paths on.
It’s those friendships you need to superglue stick to. Because that’s what loving well looks like. That’s what being known is. That’s why defensiveness never works.
It was a test run to see how well I owned my crap, how offended I could be from hearing the heart of someone who I knew could love people well.
Loving communication is the blood that runs through the veins of the healthiest people and how we communicate is the test of how graceful they are.
If you shut down in response to someone airing their feelings – what’s the difference between this and the reaction of a 7 year old?
Not much. Not much at all.
Confrontation brings freedom, freedom between people brings trust, and trust brings love. The hardest part is that confrontation has to start with love. The circle has to start with a decision, but don’t worry. Your heart will catch up.
Just like Santa replying to your letters.