Through the years I’ve collected a few mantras for directing my thoughts – especially when there’s conflict.
Seek first to understand – then to be understood.
Always assume positive intent.
All good reminders that often make up my “self talk.” Not so much yesterday…
I received a card in the mail from the parents of one of Drey’s friends. I was so pleased – because I hadn’t heard from them since Drey had died which left me sad. I waited to open the card until I felt ready. (I’ve learned that sometimes cards contain pictures or stories about Drey that are WELCOMED but it’s best that I prepare myself. Kind of a guarding my heart ’til I’m ready thing). I opened the card yesterday afternoon. The card was addressed to Fred & Kris – Drey’s Dad and Stepmom. I was crushed. Not only had I not heard from D & M but apparently they were reaching out to Fred & Kris. The accusations began in my mind… “Drey talked to his friends about you, Denise. Everyone knows you were a shitty Mom EXCEPT YOU! But what was it I hadn’t provided for Drey? I loved him so dearly! What would’ve caused him to speak negatively about me to his friends?” And then the comparing began… “I attended more soccer games during high school than his Dad did. I was the one that took him to get his drivers license. It was me at the doctor and dentist appointments. OMG – is this why so many marriages that suffer the loss of a child end in divorce? Do they start comparing their love and finding fault with each other?” The tears began pouring. Deep, gut-wrenching wails. I texted A – a soccer Mom who has stayed in touch. “WTF A? Was I a bad Mom? Did Drey hate me?” She did her best to reassure me that wasn’t the case. Grieving parents need that reassurance… from their family, from their kid’s friends, from co-workers who remember the pictures and stories that were shared over the years. We forget. We get confused. We question EVERYTHING.
So I sat down – a little more calm – and cried some more. My thoughts continued to bounce between worrying what others thought of my parenting skills to questioning the skills myself.
A few hours later I read an email from Drey’s Dad, “Hey D – wanted to let you know I received a card from D & M that was meant for you and Robbie.”
Seek first to understand then to be understood.
Always assume positive intent.
I question myself all the time. I’m so glad that this turned out well in terms of the notes. It’s tempting to leave you platitudes and stuff, but instead I just want you to know that I love you. I’m so glad we have had the chance to get to know one another.
I’m guilty of the same thing. I need to tattoo “Always assume positive intent” on my hand so I can see it at all times. I’m so glad it was just a mix-up!
I know how easy it is to jump to the wrong conclusions, as I am guilty of it myself. I am glad everything worked out okay for you, but I can understand the fears, guilt and deeply emotional feelings that overtook you during the period of miscommunication. It is hard to always stay positive when negative things occur, as we are only human and respond differently to each situation. Please know that you are loved and can reach out to your friends when you are filled with self-doubt.
The questioning, weight and burden of parenting can paralyze us from seeing the truth. I have two children – one is doing very well and one is not. The one constant is me. Denise, you are a Godly Mom in a fallen world. That’s all it takes for things to go wrong.
GOD IS WORKING SO POWERFULLY…PERFECT EXAMPLE OF HOW HE DOES THAT….BLESS YOU, LOVE YOU!
…and yes, even paranoia becomes a part of our grief make-up.