When I think of strained relationships, I am reminded of this story that I had heard sometime back .
A woman recalls how as a teenager, every morning, her father drove her to school. She shares how her dad would admire and speak of the beauty of the world. This would annoy the adolescent, as she was in the most rebellious phase of her life; and, when she looked out of the window, all she saw were boulders with garbage strewn in between.
She would snap at her father, thinking him to be idealistic and not real. Her dad would only smile affectionately.
This was the start of a Strained Relationship
This continued for the 3 years that they made the daily one-way trip to school. Eventually, the young woman grew distant from her father, not believing that they shared much in common in their relationship. She went on to leave her town for college and work.
Years later, reluctantly returning home for her father’s funeral, the woman was reminded of her strained relationship with her father all through her adult life. Mechanically going through the rites and accepting condolences, she completed her duties and drove back out of her hometown to return to her life.
She decided to take the old school route out and while doing so, was stunned! To her amazement, all along the drive on her side, were lush fields with verdant trees and a glistening rivulet. Here and there, the luxurious earth was speckled with life – farmers tilling the soil or birds sunning themselves, thirsty creatures imbibing from the nourishing water source. She couldn’t believe her eyes!
Looking back with Regret
How had she missed seeing this spectacle all those years? How was she so caught up in her own life and thoughts, that this vista had completely eluded her? She had thought of her father to be a fool! Who really was the fool? The tears came hard and fast, along with them the shame and guilt, for the person lost forever and with that any chance to repair the strained relationship.
Many of us have had similar life experiences, where we have stubbornly held our ground, only to realise we may have been mistaken. We each have our unique beliefs through myriad life events, that shape our views of the world. We think, feel and behave in accordance with our distinctive ‘window of the world’.
What might be disturbing for one may be motivating for another. What is acceptable for one, may not be so for the other. Who is right? Or wrong? Is right or wrong even valid, when it comes down to people and the diversity we inherently carry? Even those from the same, close knit family or community have divergently individual frames of reference.
Becoming aware of individual Uniqueness
With such incredible disparity, it is only normal that it shows up as differences in beliefs and actions resulting in strained relationships. Dissimilarities in filial connections and naturally more so in chosen relationships (partners, friends) or imposed (parents, children, bosses, colleagues) is to be expected.
Yet, we are poorly equipped to accept and manage these differences. Becoming aware of our uniqueness and that of another is a good start to mending broken fences.
Had the young woman only tried to look out of her father’s ‘window’, she might have had a different relationship with him. Had her father only persisted, maybe stopped the car and made her get out to absorb the view, he might have got through to his daughter, kept the connection.
In her case, she could only make peace with herself. It isn’t always so. We have opportunities to stop and consider; we can still repair a broken link.
Let’s analyse ourselves first and then offer what we wish to, to the other. We hold the power to Unity and Intimacy.
Let’s not forget it’s you and me vs. the problem… Not you vs me! – Steve Maraboli
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