I didn’t even know who she was, but she totally killed me with that sentence. It was something so obvious, yet I spent the whole evening fighting tears back inside the tear ducts, unsuccessfully.
Who do you have in your life that you love deeply but keep bumping heads with? It’s most likely family or closest friends. Someone you wish understood or treated you better, someone you can’t seem to win with and so you keep trying to please. Or maybe you even think they must hate you, so you tell yourself you hate them too. You’re resigned now believing you’re better off without them or their opinions. You got tired of fighting, so not speaking to them seems more appealing than feeling you’re not good enough?
They REALLY TRULY love you with all their heart. People don’t know how to express themselves, so they do it the way they’re used to, the only way they know how. Their emotions, including love towards you, comes out in all shapes and forms that you will misunderstand, resist, despise, shut down or walk away from.
Her story goes something like this:
I hated my father. He was very controlling and no matter what I did he would always criticize or judge me, even when I did my best. He died 7 years ago, and my family didn’t talk about his death or about him much after that. Only last year I realized I never even knew him. So I organized a gathering for my family to share funny embarrassing stories about him. We were talking and laughing for 4 hours when my aunt shared that even on his deathbed he was telling her to get rid of her furniture. I asked her whether he always told her what to do too, as I thought it was only me he was that way with, and she said “of course! The more he loved you, the more he tried to control you”.
I realized I was her dad. Not physically, of course. But by describing the way her father was, she was describing me, the way I was. In that one sentence I felt what she must have gone through, what he must have gone through, I saw what my potential future could look like, and somehow it meant so much to me that she got to understand him… as if suddenly I was understood.
People we care about the most we hold to a higher standard. We think we know what’s best for them because that’s the way we strive to live. Unfortunately, those standards may not be in line with what others want or consider as such themselves.
What I wanted to share here is this: consider the view point of those who seem strong, driven, in control, those who seem to always judge or be unsatisfied. They may be hard on you, and they’re even harder on themselves. They feel a massive responsibility for everyone around them, especially those they love the most, even if it means they push them away to prove a point. And it’s exhausting… to care so much. If they really mean so much to you, don’t just give up. Accept them, and really choose them freely, the way they are.
And for those like her father, like me: consider the view point of those who don’t follow your rules, who struggle to understand your cutthroat rigid ways. They have their own values or principles that are different, maybe even opposite to yours. And how much they really love you and want you to approve of them, so they try to balance what they actually want with what they think will make you proud. That’s stressful, inauthentic to themselves and in the end, they won’t win with you anyway. Because even you can’t win with you. If they really mean so much to you, don’t push them away. Accept them, and really choose them freely, the way they are.
Sometimes we win by losing. By giving up the right to be right, even when we’re right.