The holidays are here, bringing decorations, gatherings and emotions. We are faced with many decisions: from what to eat to where to go and with whom to visit and when. Many of these reunions bring joy and solid conversation but sometimes they also uncover old wounds or create new ones. Feelings we buried months or years ago resurface and we are no longer able to hide. The time has come to choose how we will handle ourselves.
My kids have been sick lately and sleeping very little. Combine that with recent travels and lots of company and it’s easy to understand why my husband and I are running on very short fuses. Things that may not have triggered a reaction in the past, easily do OR we are susceptible to avoiding discussion simply because we are too tired. It is herein that the real danger lies.
Emmett and I got into an argument last night after dinner and the first twenty minutes were spent spewing defensive rhetoric at one another until finally he shouted “What is this REALLY ABOUT Lauren? Let’s peel it back and figure out what is really going on here.” I was shocked, and so proud, because years ago, these words would have never come out of his mouth.
Deep-seeded feelings are multilayered and it is easy to react to surface issues rather than seek to find the root of the problem. When we fail to find the source, however, we fail to overcome the real obstacle and the resentment grows.
So we duked it out. We laid it all out on the table, bit by bit, piece by piece. And together, we worked to understand one another. It was challenging to stay on topic and empathetic but ultimately we ended by hugging one another in front of our girls, explaining that sometimes mommies and daddies fight and that it is OK, so long as we take the time to talk and make-up.
The resolution of these arguments requires one extremely important piece: all parties must be willing to do the work. Nothing truly gets resolved when one party is unwilling to let their guard down and honestly share their feelings and perspective. When this happens, we must choose how to conduct ourselves in their presence. Do we give up? Do we forgive? Do we avoid? Blame ourselves? Blame them? Add it to our suitcase of the ways in which they have wronged us?
At the end of the day, we are left with only our own thoughts. Since we are unable to control the way others respond, we must do our very best to seek true resolution and when we have done all we can to be honest and open, we must release the blame. We poison only ourselves when we live with resentment so we must turn it into the fuel we use to continue to seek the root of the problem and a resolution.
And when we are unable to convince the other party to cooperate, we must find peace in our efforts. We only fail when we refuse to do our part and lead by example.
In the midst of the chaos that is the holiday season, I commit to find the energy to communicate. To forgive myself and others for our quick reactions and to seek to understand instead of to stew in anger and resentment.
It takes work to let go, speak up and revel in the joy this season has the capacity to bring. I hope you commit to do the good work and find the joy, too.
Camille Vaughan Photography