My parents had an interesting way of bringing up hot issues with us – they’d wait until “the right time” to address it, often over a meal in a nice restaurant where no one was able to blow a gasket. Peter’s wife said she came to dread a dinner invitation from Mom & Dad, worrying what the problem might be.
It was a mega eye opener when I learned through management classes at Prudential HealthCare that it’s essential issues be brought up while they are active, or at least when they are still fresh.
Last month, was surprised to have an ancient issue served up fresh, an out-of-the-blue opportunity to effectively handle something I’d repeatedly bungled it over the years. This week, a whole new issue is offered up, as active as they come.
Am delighted to be throwing my first online Pampered Chef party, something I intend to make an annual autumn event. I invited 2/3 of my Facebook friends, since I don’t have a Ouiji board to know who wants to find the new mini deep dish covered baker under their Christmas tree (in addition to me!), a classic batter bowl with lid for a granddaughter’s dorm room, or needs a pair of cooling racks for holiday cookies because they lent theirs to a son who moved with them out of state.
That’s a lot of people. Out of all those invitees, four (4) have responded as coming, two as maybes.
The dearth of responses has left me facing a deeply-rooted sense of utter inadequacy in forging connection beyond a bright smile & breezy introduction, wondering, “Has present-day reality uprooted my gutting belief that I can’t do connection ~or~ do ancient issues still ride roughshod over me?”
Praise be, it’s taught its lesson & moved on!
It’s just a fact that I remain a total failure at making meaningful connections with my own family. Peter’s daughter unfriended me & her brother declined my friend invitation. Ditto my sister-in-law. Yikes – two of my siblings drew closer to each other about twenty years ago after discovering that neither liked me. Even Mom felt more at ease with Mim than with me.
But there was a reason for all that – they didn’t trust me.
See, they were okay with the sense of massive disconnect that pervaded our family, while the baby of the family (me) kept working for deeper connections. That first great quest did not go well for me. Was left with a deeply entrenched belief in my own inability to connect, in the expectation that people who appeared to like me were actually irritated beyond belief by my existence.
Sheez – all that dredged up from a Pampered Chef party? A bold & joyous YES! Because it has PAST & “No longer at this address” written all over it!
Being able to be within the actual moment last month with Mike & Kerry, able to accept that while we all wish each other well we have a long history of not doing well together, able to realize that getting together for breakfast had the potential for disaster, so don’t – that was BIG for me.
The response to this online party is equally BIG for me. The large number invited & the teensy group attending brings up old memories, long-ago situations that could look like they have “heartbreak” written all over them, yet brought only happiness:
When I was in my first wedding in our hometown church, Bryn Athyn Cathedral, & hoped my friends would come to see me in that beautiful setting, only one did. To this day – almost 50 years later – appreciation for her presence wells up whenever I see her.
When my father – at 63 – died a few years later & friends of my mother & my sister & my brother came to the house to comfort them, no one came to comfort me. I understood – they all thought someone else was covering. When, bold lass that I was, I called Marie to ask, “Where is everyone?” it turned out that several of my buddies were with her at a long-planned dinner party – which she immediately decamped to my house! To this day am awed that Marie turning her dinner party into a movable feast set in motion one of her guests, a fellow from Iowa named Dave, becoming a faux brother to me & a pseudo son to Mom.
When John & I were married in 1989, ALL of my relatives showed up for the wedding & the church was filled with 400 well wishers. After the ceremony, my oldest brother, serving as toastmaster, looked over the assembled throng spilling off of the church lawn onto the parking lot, said those unforgettable words – “As I see all these happy, smiling faces, it strikes me that you are not here so much for John & Elsa (me) as out of respect & love for our mother, Katharine Reynolds Lockhart” & proceeded to talk for almost ten minutes about MOM. I just looked at John & we both smiled – Peter being Peter. My relatives loved his comments – everything he shared about Mom was wonderful & true. But friends & especially business colleagues thought it pretty bizarre, while those who’d always reassured me, “Of COURSE your family likes you!” got a ringside seat to my reality. Far from upsetting the bride, I was relieved Peter said what he did, because every word helped paint a revealing picture.
When Mom died early on a Sunday morning & it was announced at both family & traditional services, only six friends stopped by to pay their respects. Six people who really mattered. The small, cozy, heart-knit group gathered in the living room suited us far better than a throng.
When I turned sixty, we invited sixty friends to join us at a friend’s Irish restaurant to celebrate & to enjoy a jam of Celtic musicians. Again, six friends showed up – one from each era of my life, from the rare childhood friend through my corporate years to then present day. Still gives me goose bumps!
And now it’s my online Pampered Chef party, with a kazillion invitees, four coming, two maybes. WHY would I feel in the least unhappy about such a miniscule response when it’s worked out so awesomely in the past. Why would the present be any different?
I might not connect with others in what feels to me like a standard traditional normal way, but connect I do, in my own fashion & the results tend to be unpredictably WONDROUS!
Thank you, Universe, for this much appreciated chance to give a tip of my hat to an active situation, to ponder the why behind my connection fears, for the ability to take a moment to recognize there were reasons for them to fester AND know that reason is past, for the opportunity to share what could have been some of the saddest moments in my life that, even at the time, were experienced only as JOY.
All this, from a Pampered Chef party? YES YES YES! Many have been called – may the right few be gathered!