Tag Archives: parents

Letters to My Son

A little over three years ago my teenage son and I had a blow-up. It wasn’t even about anything very important, but it was the culmination of a lot of anger on both our parts that had built up over several years. He was living with his father and visiting me at the time we had the fight. I told him to leave, which he did gladly, and I have not heard from him since.

At the time, I had no way of knowing that fight would turn into the estrangement that it has. Over the years I have made multiple attempts to start down the path of reconciliation, but have not received any response from him.

Today I had an a-ha that brought together and integrated different realizations that I have had over the time we have been apart.

In thinking about the fact that I haven’t missed him very much during this time, I realized that was because the relationship that we had was superficial. I long to have a close relationship with him, yet as he was growing up I was unable to be authentic and vulnerable with him. That authenticity and vulnerability is the very basis for an intimate relationship. Not surprisingly, he was not authentic and vulnerable with me, either.

So, I haven’t missed him because there was nothing much there to miss. And, I’d like that to be different.

Of course, I realize that there are two people in a relationship, and I can only do my part. But I also realize that if I’m not willing to go first and put myself out there, he probably never will. And, even if we never reconcile, even if I never hear from him again, I want him to know me. I want him to know who I am on the inside, which I have hidden from him most of his life.

To that end, I decided that I would start sending him stories from my life. I’m removing the mask of perfection and detachment from being emotional that I’ve worn with him.

I’ll let him see times I was hurting or scared. I’ll let him see times I did something I regret. I’ll let him see times things didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

And, I’ll also let him see the joy and love that has been in my life.

I will be sharing these stories on this blog as well because its purpose when I began it nearly five years ago was for me to show up authentically. There may be stories related to my son that I choose not to share because it would violate his privacy. But beyond that, my intention is to be an open book.

I remember when I first began blogging how terrified I was to be seen. The feedback I received here was a huge support in me being able to continue being more authentic and more vulnerable.

Today I find it almost amusing how scared I was to “expose myself” in the beginning. Today I am mostly comfortable letting people see me with all my foibles and imperfections, yet there are still times I hold back from being fully seen. Here is my opportunity to change that.

Thank you again for your continuing support!

Are Authenticity and Compassion Sometimes Mutually Exclusive?

I recently took a trip with my mother. I knew that this time with my mother would be fertile ground for my continued journey towards being more authentic. What I didn’t know, but soon discovered, was that it was also an opportunity to practice being authentic with compassion.

Since my late twenties I have had a difficult relationship with my mother. I don’t know that she realizes that this is the case, but I have struggled mightily to separate from her. I can remember conversations with my therapist more than 25 years ago about how to interact with my mother and how to shift the relationship to more of what I wanted it to be. It’s been a long road.

During this recent trip I kept a daily journal. It was pretty interesting to see how from day to day my feelings about my mother and my relationship with her changed.

One day I’d be focused on all the things she did that had irritated me, many of them long standing complaints, and I’d be sure there was no way I would ever take a trip with her again. The next day I would have had some insight into what her experience was and feel compassion and even sadness for her.

Writing this blog about becoming more authentic has been amazing for me. The freedom that I feel saying what is true for me has spurred me on to be even more authentic in real life, off the written page. I knew that when I returned from this trip that I would want to share my experiences and learning in written form.

Enter my fear, and consequently my dilemma: how would my mother feel if she read what I wrote?

It is important to me to be authentic in my experience of and with my mother. This authenticity is not about making her wrong and me right. It really is a reporting of the process I have gone through not only on this trip, but over many years. And, I feel that I know my mother well enough that if she were to read what I end up writing that she will feel attacked.

Even though my intention is not to attack my mother, not to make her the bad guy, I believe that she will only be able to see where I am criticizing her in whatever I say and not be able to see that the story is not about her, but about me.

This thought occurred to me a few days ago, and I am still working on what the “right” answer is. I am not willing to forgo writing about my relationship with my mother. It is what I need to do to continue my growth in this area.

So far I have not shared my blog with my mother, and I feel okay about that. However, my ultimate intention is to write a book that uses the evolution of my relationship with my mother as a guide for others struggling with similar issues. Would it be inauthentic of me not to share this life accomplishment of publishing a book with my mother? Would I be doing the opposite of what I am espousing in this book to hide from her something that I am proud of achieving?

But what of compassion? If I believe that reading what I have written will be hurtful to her, is it compassionate to tell her about it? Or by trying to protect her, am I taking on her feelings instead of letting her own them herself (a lifelong pattern I have with her)?

It is indeed a sticky wicket, as they say. Right now I’m leaning towards not telling her about it. But is that the easy way out – the way I have always dealt with my mother when I fear a bad reaction?

I would welcome your input, comments, insights and thoughts about this dilemma.