Friday, May 27, 2011

The Styrofoam Bridge
Does this look like something you'd build a bridge out of?

I didn't think so.

I do all my best thinking, as I mentioned last week, when I'm completely alone with nothing even near the horizon to distract me.

I was praying over the situation with my mom last week.  I was wishing I could articulate what I am thinking and why I'm behaving the way I am with her - why I'm not calling her or pursuing any type of relationship with her.  I wish it sounded healthy.  I don't know if I'm looking for ways to justify my behavior or just be able to explain it.

But as I was laboring this over in my head I decided to just pray and say those exact words to God.  So I did.

"Dear God.  I want a way to explain this.  I know there are reasons why I'm doing what I am but I can't explain them.  I feel like I'm doing the right thing but I can't articulate why and I want to."

And just after saying those words a picture came into my head.

A picture of  a styrofoam bridge.

That is what my mom is wanting from me and what my aunt is wanting from me.

There is a gaping hole between two mountainsides.  I am one side; mom is the other.  And the hole exists because of the pain of the last 10 months coupled with the pain that was never dealt with from years ago. 

Instead of dealing with the situation by:
  1. Honestly addressing the reality of the situation.  "Hey look.  There is a huge hole here and there is no way we can see eye to eye without some sort of bridge here." 
  2. Acknowledging that one person can't fix it alone and have it be worth anything.
  3. And using substaintial and stable tools to fix the situation,

we're going to do this.....
  1. Maybe acknowledge the other mountain.
  2. Yell at the person occassionally from my mountain to tell them what I'm thinking and have it rarely if ever understood.
  3. Or if all else fails and we decide to try to get from one mountainside to the other, have someone throw a slab of styrofoam to cross the bridges and expect to safely pass.

I don't think so.

My mom is asking me to not truly address this and not acknowledge the truth with the end goal of having things go back to the way they were while pushing everything under the rug.  Actually, with me pushing everything under the rug.

The problem with that though is that I've crossed that styrofoam bridge before.  Except I didn't get the whole way across it.  I got somewhere near the middle and it broke. 

I'm not up for that anymore.  Not unless there is something real crossing those mountainsides.

You know what else I'm not up for?  My aunt being on my mountain and telling me to throw a slab of styrofoam over to my mom's side.

So I've made some decisions.  Here is a key to decode my vision here.
  • mountainside = life
  • bridge = relationship and everything that goes into relationship
  • steel and wood = necessary tools to maintain a healthy relationship
  • styrofoam = false means of maintaining relationships = always leads to dysfunctional relationships
Here goes.....

  1. Stay on my mountain:  I'm going to keep my distance for a little while.  I don't know how long.  Until I find the tools of faith, courage, forgiveness and wholeness to even start to build a bridge I'm going to stay on my own mountain.
  2. Evaluate my mountain:  I'm going to honestly evaluate my mountain to see what exactly I'm dealing with - who I am and what potential God has given me before I start building bridges all over the place.
  3. Evaluate the other mountain:  Honestly evaluate what I'm seeing on her mountainside.  Pretending the things that hurt and the realities of our relationship and interaction with each other doesn't exist is not dealing with the truth.  And if I am unable to deal with the truth I can not be set free with it.
  4. Escort people off my mountain:  Ask my aunt to get off my mountain.  She needs to be dealing with her own mountain.  Being on mine and yelling at me is only threatening the survival of our relationship and her own mountain and bridges.
  5. See other mountains as separate:  Realize that I can't ask people to get on my mountain with me and see things solely from my perspective.  They need to stay on their own mountains.  My children have their own mountains.  My husband has his own mountain.
In case this is completely not understandable let me provide a personal example.

My mother used to see my kids at least every other week.  If we went 3 weeks or longer without them seeing each other that was strange.  And she used to talk to the kids at least 1-2 times per week.

I can literally count the times in the last 10 months that she has spoken to them on the phone on one hand.  She has seen them maybe 10 times in that same amount of time and 3 of those times have been in the last 6 weeks.  2 months ago she told my son she would go to his school and have lunch with him before the school year was over.  There are literally 3 days left for that to happen and she hasn't even called.

When my son was a baby she spent so much time with him.  Enough time that occasionally he called her "mama".  As he has gotten older, he has wanted to do more boy things and spend more time with his male grandparents instead of her.  She told me, before this whole thing started, that she didn't know how to relate to him anymore or what to do with him and she just wants to be "someone's favorite".  She, through the normal course of development, is no longer his favorite.  In the last several years, since this started happening (his growing distance from her), she started favoring my daughters much more.  Special weekends for their birthdays, playing with them, etc.  She has not done the same for my son.  She does not know anything about what any of the kids are doing at this point unless my aunt is telling her.

Here are my thoughts based on what I said above.
  1. Staying on my mountain - I'm not going to call her about this.  I'm not going to remind her.  I'm not going to scold her.  I'm going to leave it alone.
  2. Evaluating my mountain - I am furious.  Maybe she's going to treat me with distance but my kids don't deserve it at all.  IF she calls about this before the school year is over it is going to be really hard to not tell her off in anger.  It is incredibly painful to see her dropping off the face of the earth from them when they did nothing to her at all.
  3. Evaluating her mountain - She is showing a pattern of using people (including my children) for her own self worth.  If she is not their favorite she will move on to someone she has a shot at that with.  Someone who makes her feel good about who she is. 
  4. Escort people off my mountain - Not mention a word to this to my aunt nor entertain her words if she brings it up, respectfully of course.
  5. See other mountains as separate - This is a little trickier because my kids aren't independent yet.  They're little.  And it is my responsibility to protect them and prepare them for life still.  IF she does call to see if she can have lunch with my son I need to inspect the shape of the bridge from his perspective and make the decision based on that.  Not based on the shape of my bridge to her.
This is hard.  My sinful nature totally wants to win out on this one.

What do you think of this analogy?  Is it helpful or horribly confusing?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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