I had a call from a lady named Annie last week.
She had just finished reading my book Love, Care and Share. I asked her what part of the book spoke to her the most. She expressed that it was the story about how my mother helped me during my marriage separation and ultimate divorce.
For those of you who have not read Love, Care and Share this is the part in the story. It was the summer of 1997 and I had just come back from dropping off my two-and-a-half-year-old son, Reigan, to my wife’s local backyard apartment.
I was noticeably upset.
My mother was living with me at the time and as I came back into my house she asked me to sit down at the kitchen table. She then joined me in the chair beside me. Mom asked me to face her and look into her eyes and she said these words to me, “When you pick Reigan up or when you drop him off, if Cathy says something to you, as you respond to her I want you to see your son’s face in front of hers.
Know that you are teaching him how to respect his mother as well as how to respect women by the way you talk to her. If she says something that upsets you, say these words, ‘Can I call you later to discuss that?’ And leave. Can you do that, Tom?”
I said yes and did what I was told.
There is a reason this part of the book spoke most to Annie.
She is now a mature lady who experienced her parents’ divorce many years ago. The tragedy for her was that she did not speak to her father for over 50 years. Her mother had filled her head with many bad stories about her father. She could also recall how poorly her mother had spoken to the father during that time.
This story has a happier ending because Annie did get in touch with her father. She read him a letter she wrote years ago that was addressed to her father and was stowed away in her dresser drawer. The letter itemized all the stories her mother filled her head with about her father.
Albert never interrupted Annie as she read him the letter.
When she was finished she looked up and there were tears streaming down her father’s face. After a lengthy pause he said “Those are all lies about me”.
At that moment Annie was able to realize that her father may be someone other than the picture she had in her mind. She was also able to experience empathy for him.
As we concluded the telephone conversation Annie shared with me that the interaction she had with her father, Albert, happened 2 days before he passed. The letter she read to him was in a hospital room.
As I finish this blog I think about how our perception creates our reality.
I also wonder at what level of Annie’s conscious or subconscious changed for her beside her fathers hospital bed that afternoon. Then I wondered about the thoughts Annie has about herself. How her “old” thoughts about her father affected her but now she can come from a knowing of who her fathers was. She shared with me that this experience was liberating for her. By having a new perception of her father she now has redefined that part in herself that is Albert.
Annie then went on to tell me that she is now writing her own story. She expressed that because of reading Love, Care and Share she realized that her own story needs to be told.
She wants to help people going through divorce to understand some things: She wants them to realize that they are teaching their children how to speak to and respect others. She is hoping to help these parents realize if they speak poorly about the other parent it is hurting their child.
I also want to add another piece to this. I believe that all children grow up defining themselves, to whatever degree, drawing on how they think and feel about both of their parents.
For is that not where we come from?
Annie also wants her story to help children of those divorced parents. To give them a chance to better understand how communication between their parents or things said to them from one parent about the other may be revisited and potentially re-evaluated.
“A little change can make a big difference!” Anonymous