We grow up expecting our parents to be whole, put-together, and authentic. The truth is, often times, they are still discovering themselves and trying to make peace with the baggage of their past. As a result, they sometimes disappoint us. They break our expectations. They do not love us or themselves the way we need them to.
How we respond to disappointment makes all the difference.
We must be courageous enough not to go from the victim to the aggressor and relentlessly shame our parents – over and over again – for what they were not able to give us. We need to choose, from a place of love and compassion, to either go our own way or heal the relationship.
I had the opportunity to meet Marie this year and she reminded me that in a relationship,
EVERYONE IS PART OF THE HEALING PROCESS!
She talked about how her daughter was mad at her for what she was not able to give her during her youth. After years of apologizing, listening, and being shamed, Marie finally had to say, “STOP! I understand I made mistakes. I own that. But I need you to now become part of the healing process. I have respected your feelings and I have respected your story, but we do not have to continue living there. We can create a new one.”
Marie’s story reminds all of us that if both people make a conscious choice to continue the relationship then they are both part of the healing process. The relationship suffers when any one person chooses to abdicate their responsibility in the healing process.
The healing process requires both people to. . .
- Feel what they need to feel
- Share their truth with honesty and respect
- Forgive themselves and each other
- Re-establish boundaries for the relationship
- Refuse to hold each other hostage to past choices
I hope as adults – who have also disappointed others and struggled to find themselves – we learn to see our parents as heroes because of the cracks in their armor and because of their willingness to keep getting better. Perhaps it is in that vulnerable space that we realize that we are not that different and we are just as much a part of the healing process as they are.