Recently, I had the experience of creating an uncomfortable, messy, emotional situation in my life quite unexpectedly. My mother had been scheduled for surgery on a Monday and I had built my calendar around that surgery so that I would be available for her, to assist her, and to transport her to and from the hospital. I had planned to dedicate the Friday before the surgery to nurturing me. I had a massage scheduled for myself for the first time in NINE years. I had back-to-back appointments with clients for creative consultations and brainstorming. And, in the evening I had a marvelous opportunity to attend a workshop with a room full of powerful women. The next day, I was to spend the entire day immersed in the energy of service to humanity through providing intuitive readings at a holistic fair and on Sunday, I had booked the day for writing and another women-power event that night. It was a busy weekend.
Suddenly, her surgeon called and offered an earlier date. Relieved, she took it because the pain was so intense and she needed relief. I was so grateful that she would be able to get support sooner than planned, but… now her surgery was on Thursday – the day before my incredibly busy weekend. Now what??? Luckily, my Thursday schedule was wide open so I had no problem dedicating the bulk of my day to being at the hospital after I dropped my daughter at school.
My brother cleared his schedule on Thursday so he could get mom to the hospital. My sister had driven in from out of town and had cleared her schedule through Saturday afternoon. And there we all were, at the hospital, together and I loved it! Granted, we had come together because mom was in surgery, but we were together. And I was so joyful about it.
Surgery was a success and mom was getting dressed so my sister could drive her home. My siblings and I stood in the hallway and the question was posed, “Okay… now what?”
Mom needed 24 hour care as per doctor’s orders and we all wanted her to have someone with her through Saturday, at least. I stood and listened to my brother and sister, feeling mute. Being the oldest child, I often pop into Responsible Oldest Sister, but I couldn’t in that moment and I was so scared, I couldn’t talk.
Feeling weak, I squeaked out, “I have things I can’t cancel tomorrow and Saturday so I’m not going to be available to support her, unfortunately.”
My heart was racing and I was nauseated. I held my breath, fearing judgment. They smiled, nodded, and lovingly went about planning how the two of them would cooperate to cover the care shifts. I stood there fighting myself, wanting to give up on me. I felt incapacitated with fear and self-reprisal. My Good Daughter persona was screaming all sorts of obscenities at me and my Responsible Sister persona was reminding me of what a louse I was and boy! Oh boy! My Not Enough tapes were playing loud and clear.
I was an emotional wreck in less than 2.3 seconds, but I stuck to it – nausea, moist palms, and dry mouth be damned!
Friday morning, I woke up to find some of the powerful women slated to attend the event that night were posting on the Facebook event about what they were experiencing as they anticipated the event. I felt drawn to share about my journey with my Good Daughter and Responsible Oldest Sister patterns and wrote a heartfelt response to the group. Knowing the power of transparent accountability in group processes, I shared without any fluff or frills about the pattern I’ve witnessed of my siblings and myself needing to prove to our parents how good we are at being their children. I shared how inadequate I felt because my sister had made such a big effort to clear her entrepreneurial schedule for three days to support my mom. I called her “Perfect Sister” because that has always been my self-judgment of who I am in comparison to her – always not perfect enough. I shared that I was bumping up against my “being selfish” and “not enough” programs. I cried as I wrote it, not feeling any relief for having done so, and not really expecting any sort of response.
Within minutes, the responses started flying in from members of the group. Then… what’s this???! A friend on an entirely different continent who is not part of the group responded. Then, my massage therapist – who is also not part of the group – opened her door to me and said, “I am so glad you are here! Nine years is far too long to go without a massage.”
Feeling sweat roll down my back and nausea boil in my belly, I asked, “How did you see that? I posted that in the event. I thought only people going to the event would see it…”
“OH! Well… it’s on my newsfeed. See…” She held up her phone, showing me her newsfeed and, sure enough, there it was for all to see. My truths. There in black and white. For everyone to see. Including my brother and sister.
I was sick!
Even though I would have shared my truths with my sister and brother, I would have done it in person, not on Facebook, not in writing where they could have misunderstood me. Because, even though it was my truth, I wrote it in a way that could have very easily come across as judgmental and harsh to them. I had shared the guts of what I was feeling without any sugary coating and I had done that because I had thought I was sharing with a group of women who would be able to understand what I was going through. I shared it in its rawness because I felt safe in a small, controlled cocoon all while not realizing that this story would be visible to all that were connected to me.
Now… I had a choice. Do I pretend that I don’t know this went “viral” and choose to believe that my brother and sister didn’t see it, ignoring the possibility of them being hurt by my words? -OR- Do I get accountable, reach out to them, and make it right?
Whether they saw it or not, whether they were hurt or not, that is not the point. The point is this… there is a chance that I hurt them and, for me, that was unacceptable. So, even though it looked like there were several options for handling the situation, the only viable option for me was to be accountable, to seek forgiveness, and to make amends.
Through this, I got to be really human. It was an opportunity to be loving with myself and to live what I speak. I got to be accountable for my words and for the fact that I may have inadvertently hurt another. I got to hold that really uncomfortable space. I got to apologize, ask forgiveness, make things right. And I got to be really, really be brave – foot in mouth and all.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments.
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