Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back from the dead

We all face challenges in life. I believe we address these challenges in the best way know how to in that moment. We do not know what the long-term results will be. This can be scary, exciting or anything else, depending on how you look at the situation.

This week a ghost from my past showed up in my life. I went from feelings of surprise and shock to feelings of frustration and irritation. Only after I realized that the situation was a great opportunity for me to be authentic and show the ghost from my past the “me of today.” I decided to see that this situation was very funny and a great lesson for me. I hope my story will inspire you to think about how you would handle a situation like this.

Almost four years ago my mother decided that she no longer wanted me in her life. For a while I didn’t really know what to make of it. Did she really mean it? Was she just temporarily angry or upset? So, when I traveled to the Netherlands I visited her. She didn’t let me into the house and told me clearly that I was no longer welcome.

We haven’t been in touch since that day.

This week I received emails from my mom implying that she wants to be in contact again. She says she misses me and would love to hear my voice. So, I thought I’d share the last email I wrote her Thursday morning. With excitement, I look forward to your comments...

Hello mom,

Let me start by saying that I received your emails with mixed emotions. There are so many thoughts going through my head, so I’ll just start somewhere.

Knowing that in the past you told me clearly that you never wanted to see me again, I am surprised that you now want to be in touch with me. The emails you sent me this week don’t say anything about why you broke off contact in the past, and they also don’t tell me why you want to be in touch again now. I hope you will write me back to clarify that for me.

The relationship we had in the past is not one I would want to continue. I have changed a lot; I am indeed another person than you once knew.

A year after we said goodbye for the last time, I started crying during a group session. I realized that for me you were dead, but that the funeral would not be for years. I realized that I had not taken time to grieve or to say goodbye to you, to us, or to the relationship we had together. With this group of great friends we created a ceremony to say goodbye to you. I sang a song I had written. I described my feelings and said goodbye.

Over the years that ceremony has given me support and comfort. The person you were, has a place in my heart with grandma and grandpa, people no longer in my life.

Now it looks like you want to start a new relationship and I ask myself “why do you want that” and “do I want that?” I created a drama-free family life for myself and it is a fantastic experience. I have new friends whom I consider to be my family. I have created a new lifestyle for myself based on the philosophy of happiness; it brings me lots of happiness.

It’s really nice to know that you have created new friendships and that there are people who care for you and are willing to help you in starting new things in your life.

Let me know what you are thinking.

Lots of love, Iris

P.S. one of the things that changed for me is that a lot of my life is now open to public. See my website: www.lifetransitioncounselor.com/blog. I want you to know that this email will be discussed in that blog.

That’s my letter. I know that people have a lot of opinions about relationships, especially when it comes to families. What do you think of my letter? What do you think about my attitude towards my mom? What would you do in this situation? Would you embrace an opportunity for the relationship? Would you run away from it as quickly as possible?

Again, I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

4 comments:

  1. Hi Iris!

    My very first thought about your letter/story is "Wow! I'm not the only one!". Something I love about how we often share so openly at the Institute is that I find there are many others facing the same challenges I am.

    Next I noticed that you were concise in letting her know what you wanted although through a "not want".... "The relationship we had in the past is not one I would want to continue". I am wondering if you were more specific with her about your wants if that would help clarify both for yourself and for her.

    I am excited to hear the progress and THANK YOU for setting up this blog. What a great way to start my Sunday morning.

    xoxo,

    Winden

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  2. Hi Iris,
    First, I want to celebrate you for replying at all to her e mail. You e mail sounds as if it comes from a place of love in your heart which is so wonderful and powerful, much different to how you could have done it which could have been vengeful after the way you have been treated. I don't think you have to make a decision about whether to pursue a new relationship with your mother yet as a lot depends on how she responds however I agree with Winden that working out what you do want would be useful as you then have that picture ready should she be interested in working things out differently. I hope you post us again with an update so we can follow what happens. I am excited to see whether things work out with your mother as a result of your Option perspective. Thanks for setting up this blog and by blazing the trail ahead with your own story. I am hoping to meet you in one months time as I will be at the institute for OST and Calm amid chaos
    Love hugs and smiles
    Alison Taylor

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  3. Winden and Alison, Thank you so much for your responses! I will keep you posted!

    In meanwhile, I would like to ask all the readers: what are questions you ask yourself after reading this email? What do you think is meant by "a drama-free" family life? What do you think about picking your family? Which beliefs do your have about staying in touch with your family? What do you think about talking about this relationship in a public space like this blog? What would you feel and think if you were the mother who is taking action to undo her choice from the past and gets to hear that it will be discussed on a website?

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  4. Hi Iris! For me, the most "drama" in my life comes from the work environment, where my "family" is not intentionally picked. However, I find that is leads only to my benefit, as I am challenged to find better ways of communicating, of making connections with others I might "see" as different from me. What I am learning is that what sets them apart from me is my own judgmental thinking and when I can be loving and accepting of my thoughts, acknowledging this, I can love and accept them and be more genuine with them than before. Much love, MK

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