Stewing vs. Healing

Stewing vs. Healing

 

I recently came to a realization that I have a tendency to stew in my own juices, which is not healthy. It’s strange, because I also have a tendency to speak my mind without hesitation if something’s bothering me. I thought about it and came to a conclusion that if certain types of behavior bother me, I tend to stew for a while. I believe I do this because I try to analyze the situation and determine whether or not I’m overreacting, wrong, lacking facts or judgment, being closed minded, etc. I also try and see the situation from different perspectives, and take into consideration the various factors that influence a person’s behavior, such as culture, language, setting, environment, condition, personality, background, etc.

If someone is overtly hurtful with their words, like being condescending, I have no problem putting that person in his/her place. If someone is subtle or deceitful with their disrespect or rudeness, like being patronizing, I let that person know exactly how I feel in the most tactful way possible. However, when someone close to me (especially a family member or friend) says or does something in a subtle manner that I perceive as hurtful, I tend not to react immediately. I suppose I want to be sure about the validity of my reaction before I hurt someone’s feelings, make an ass out of myself, or say something that makes me come off as overly sensitive.

For instance, until today, I had a confusing relationship with my step-mother ever since I knew her (when she was my dad’s girlfriend while he was still married to my mother), which was over twenty years ago. Overall, my step-mother was good to me; however, sometimes she would say or do things that would raise red flags. One of the things she would do is talk for hours on end until two or three the next morning. I would be lucky if I was able to squeeze in a couple sentences. I would tell her that I’m tired at some point, would remind her a couple more times in between the long hours, and she would apologize for keeping me up, and then continue telling sad stories that are hard to interrupt. I was flabbergasted. My hero father even came down in the middle of the night a couple times and told her to let me sleep. Once, I said good night in the middle of her talking and walked off. I couldn’t believe I was capable of being so rude, but it was just too much.

Over ten years later, when I stayed over her house after my dad’s funeral, she did it again. The first couple days, I listened to her because I knew she was in the grieving process. However, the third day (and after much sleep deprivation), I just told her that we all needed sleep so that we can function the next day, and lay down. She continued talking even as I put the covers over me and faced the other direction. Even my little step-sister (her real daughter) came out of her room after 2a.m. and said, “Ma, let Bobbie sleep!”

I learned through past experiences, especially the ones involving my step-mother, that excessively chatty people are just that…excessively chatty people. They’re usually good people, just lonely, expressive, opinionated, free-spirited, social butterflies and/or seeking attention. However, I believe that it benefits everyone to ensure that they also learn to be good listeners, empathetic, aware of their surroundings and unselfish. It also helps to be stern, yet loving, to them when it comes to controlling such behavior. Once, I interrupted one of my girlfriends and shouted, “Time out! Woman, you are seriously going to talk me to death, aren’t you?” She started laughing her ass off.

Another girlfriend/coworker and I were walking out of the office to the parking lot and she started talking 100 mi/hr again. Whenever I found a nanosecond of a gap to inform her that I had to get home to prepare dinner, she would agree and then continue going off in different tangents. So, I started to slowly walk off, smiled and waved goodbye, and opened my car door. Sadly, even as I was shutting the door (once I was inside the car) she was still in the parking lot talking away. I couldn’t help but to shake my head and giggle to myself. I loved her like a sister because she was a wonderful person, so I knew that the extremely chatty side of her was just something I had to embrace if I wanted to continue our friendship. So, I would listen to her for however long I decided to, but would then do whatever I had to do (like slowly walk off) to end the conversation so there would be no resentment.

It was easier to let my chatty friends know of their talkative nature by using humor, but to inform my Korean step-mother was a challenge. It’s a cultural thing. When older people talk, it’s respectful to just listen. Granted, I’ve never experienced an older, Korean person talk like there’s no tomorrow. Anyway, to make life more workable for everyone, I chose to take the good things from each culture and make my own rules. So instead of continuing to avoid my step-mother’s phone calls that lasted for a minimum of three hours, I decided to tell her in the most loving way possible how I really felt about some of her questionable or uncomfortable words and behavior.

Actually, it was thanks to my step-sister that all the healing began. A couple days ago, I decided to be completely honest with her. I let her know why I didn’t feel like I couldn’t trust her anymore, or anyone else, and a conversation began. I don’t know why I didn’t use this approach sooner. I recall reading in one of the CWG books that if you’re transparent with someone, more than likely that person will be transparent with you. Anyway, the heart-to-heart talk ended well, and I also found out some sad news about my step-mother, who lives with my step-sister. She was showing signs of depression, so I decided to call her.

I explained to her why I had been avoiding her phone calls and debated on whether or not I should even continue to have a relationship with her. I mentioned some of the hurtful comments that she had made, and that she hardly ever gave me a chance to speak whenever we had a conversation. She admitted that she had a tendency to be very blunt, and she apologized for being so insensitive. She stated that she was immature and very opinionated when she was in her thirties, and she probably hurt people’s feelings. I told her that I understood, but the last time she made a hurtful comment was when she was in her fifties not thirties, while I stayed at her house for a few days after my dad’s funeral. She didn’t recall, so I reminded her.

After washing the dishes, I accidentally left one of the knives pointing outward in the dish rack, which I normally don’t do for safety reasons. When my step-sister was near the sink, my step-mother noticed the knife and told her to watch out. I felt bad and mentioned that I usually don’t leave knives pointing out like that and apologized. My step-mother then glared at me and said, “I guess thirty years of experience in the kitchen taught you nothing.” I thought about saying something, but I refrained because I knew she was under a lot of stress and there were also other family members in the house.

So I asked my step-mother over the phone today, “If my step-sister (your daughter) would’ve done the exact same thing, would you have made such a comment to her?” There was silence on the other end. I then told her that it would’ve better if she had just yelled at me for not being cautious. She replied that she couldn’t recall saying that and apologized. She also said that even though she’s in her fifties, she still has a lot of growing up to do—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I, too, admitted that I still have a lot of growing/healing to do myself and that I was sorry that I didn’t have the courage to speak the truth about the matter sooner. We both agreed to be more open with our communication. I felt a huge relief and a sense of peace in my heart.

Thank you God for helping us to heal, so that we may evolve spiritually and remember that We Are All One.

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~ by Bobbie on December 27, 2011.

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