Here is another example of needing to let go.
I recently read a book about the sexual abuse of a daughter by her father. The daughter cannot let go of the fact that her mother and older sister do not believe her. The author thrashes about during the entire book, setting up meeting after meeting, trying to convince mother and older sister about what happened to her. The book ends on that note.
I would love to meet the author and tell her that her mother and sister are never going to change their minds. And since they are never going to come around, she is the one who has to come around, she has to give up trying to convince them.
This does not mean she is giving up thinking what she is thinking, it simply means she is giving up trying to change their thinking.
Giving up trying to change their thinking acknowledges a very painful reality but, at the same time, it will give her back her life. For it will remove this futile festering that has consumed her and free her to expend all the energy released thereby on her children, her brother, her friends, her career, her life.
I believe that the gist of what I learned from dealing with my father over his long life can be applied by other people.
We cannot change what we don’t like in the other, be they mother or father or child, for that matter. What we can do is back off and let go.
Thinking we can change them is the mistake.
In my case, my mistake was to think I could reason with my father, that explaining things would help, that elaborating on what hearing aids and puffers were for, would help, that explaining the tax difference between interest income and dividend income would help.
He was deaf in more ways than physiological. And that it took me years and years of wasting my breath before realizing this—and even then, I did not realize this on my own, my partner helped me realize this, since I had reached my limit and had become furious and hysterical.
I had been trying to communicate with someone who was not listening, period. I had been wasting my time and getting more and more frustrated because I was unable to get through. Relief only came after I stopped trying, when I applied the Dalai Lama’s dictum, you say something once and then you do not say it again.
Suddenly, freedom and inner peace were mine vis a vis my father. I was no longer trying to change him—it was hard for a teacher at heart, which is what I am, to stop trying to teach, to inform, to help.
I do believe that this “hands off” approach will work in other situations as well. In the case of
selfishness—he or she is not going to change, so stop being disappointed when they don’t;
intrusiveness—he or she is not going to change, so ignore and go your merry way;
narcissism—he or she is not going to change, stop expecting them to;
tactlessness—he or she has no idea they are being tactless, ignore;
cruelty—stay far, far away, no one deserves to be shat on;
parsimony--don’t expect anything.
why i write
My goal in writing is to communicate and share my thoughts about the people I know and the events I have experienced with the hope that my experience can be of help to others. The gist of my experience in The One of Their Relationship is: letting go.