Making the decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone
My daughter amazes me. She’s just been through a roller coaster growth cycle. I’m going to share this vulnerable, recent event from her life that has beautifully illustrates a powerful life lesson. I have her permission to share this story with you.
It all started about six months ago when she began her senior year of high school. To give you some background, our daughter, who tends to be on the reserved side, is not a risk taker, and attends a very small, private, alternative school in rural Vermont. There are 10 kids in her class and for the most part they all socialize with each other.
It’s a close-knit group of students. There’s not a lot of a potential romantic option in such a small pond yet my daughter began to develop a crush on one of her classmates. As the year progressed and social events increased and friendships deepened, her feelings for this boy deepened as well.
I was delighted she was talking to me about her experiences and feelings all along the way. We spent many a conversation exploring how one deals with having feelings for someone when you’re uncertain if your feelings are to be returned. We discussed at length possible strategies for approaching the conversation. We considered the pros and cons of letting things naturally unfold vs. trying to second-guess where we thought this young man might be based on his interactions with her.
Over months we talked and talked. She expressed her hopes, her fear of rejection; ultimately, she feared that if she told the truth of how she felt, it would ruin the friendship, which was clearly valuable to her.
About a month ago the tension was approaching fever pitch for her. The friendship had grown the crush turned to love, and they were beginning to spend serious time together. She was filled with the fantasy of how wonderful it would be if the relationship moved to the next level. Still she was unable to ask this young man the seemingly simple question, “do you like me and want to be more than friends?”
It became painfully clear to me that my daughter was avoiding having the conversation because she was afraid to know the truth. On a deep level she was convinced that she was going to be rejected. The distress of not knowing and the tension it created although miserable was safer than facing possible disappointment. It was very understandable and yet, something needed to give.
What truth are you resisting facing?
I often experience this very human phenomenon with my clients. The tendency to avoid the truth inadvertently creates complicated, energy draining situations: from relationship issues to not wanting to hire a bookkeeper to sort out your finances because of what you’re afraid you might discover.
If you’re afraid of seeking the truth because you believe that your worst fear will come true ask yourself if you can really know for sure that it will. Isn’t it just as possible that you might be worrying for nothing? How much energy does it take to stay in the dark?
If you’re afraid because you don’t have the confidence to get through whatever tough emotions arise look for evidence from your past that you can. When have you survived and actually grown from other challenging life lessons? Building a support system to help you deal with what ever comes up can be invaluable and confidence building as well.
Finally, the day came. My daughter told us she couldn’t take it anymore. She found the courage to face her fears and decided she was ready to tell him the truth. My husband and I took her out to our favorite Sunday morning breakfast restaurant and coached her. By the end of our meal she was ready and drove off to meet him.
There is a happy ending to the story, but not the happily ever after kind. It turned out the young man didn’t return her feelings, he was happy being great friends with her. She came home heartbroken yet not devastated AND most importantly, relieved that the truth was out on the table and she could be free to be real with him. She activated her support system in a big way and began to recover.
Yes, it took a few days to sort it all out, and the friendship has grown. They’re communicating on a more satisfying level. What an incredible opportunity for a seventeen year old to learn how to face truth and build self-confidence in the process. My daughter amazes me.
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!