Saturday, July 09, 2011

Saturday This and That

By Belinda

Here in Bond Head, at 10.30 on a July Saturday evening it is still as steamily hot as I imagine a Turkish bath would be.

I am inside where the air conditioning is valiantly fighting the battle to cool the house and only somewhat winning. But an hour ago I was walking around the village as late as I could so that it would be cooler. Because it was getting darker by the minute I was reminded that already the days are shortening. Is it ungrateful to want to type, "Boo!" to that? :)

I was struck, as Molson and I walked past century homes, by the incongruity of big screen colour TVs flickering from windows all over the village.  We have one ourselves of course, and I had just watched a movie on it with Paul, but as we walked the deserted streets, Mo and I, I was trying to imagine another time, quieter, less hurried, and the TV's spoiled the illusion!

Today Paul's mum had a day visit from the hospital to her own home. She has been in hospital since May 31, recovering from a stroke that had paralysed her right arm and weakened her right leg. What a fighter she is. So determined to get home. She has been supplementing the physiotherapy by exercising on her own to strengthen her right arm and hand. If the nurses are slow to respond when she needs to go to the wash-room she has been wheeling herself in and with the determination with which she does everything, "Doing it herself."

Paul went early this morning to pick Mum up and on the way home they stopped here. She amazed me by getting out of the car, getting up four steps and using our bathroom, and then doing the whole process in reverse before continuing the journey to Tottenham. I imagine that tonight she will be resting very well in her hospital bed, although it must have been so hard to go back. It won't be long before she's home for good--well, it had better not be because otherwise we shall be reading a headline:
Patient Runs Away from Hospital. Last Seen Heading Down the Highway with a Walker.

I read a book last week and had another of my epiphanies.. The book was the true story of a woman who had grown up in a verbally and physically abusive family and then found herself in similar situations as an adult. Eventually (drastically shortening a story here--I must write a proper book review) she found faith in Christ and went through counselling to find healing from the pain and damage of the past.

In reading the book I realized for the first time where some of my own relational patterns come from. It seems obvious now that I realize it. Because of growing up with a father who was difficult and drank, I learned to be hypersensitive to conflict; to read the signs of impending discomfort in others and to take steps to mitigate them.

I'm very good at defusing tension in a room whenever emotions are running high in conversations (unless it's my own that are running high.) I can make a joke or find a middle ground that makes everyone suddenly happy. That is my goal--everyone must be happy.

I also learned to tiptoe around in other relationships--to accommodate and appease--unless something is really important and then I will stand firm. This too, was a revelation. No one asked me to do it--I just did, because it was what I learned to do. I just never realized why I did it, and where it came from.

So knowing this, I decided to stop it. On Thursday at cell group the discussion became, shall we say, "animated." I would normally have tried to smooth things a little, but instead I sat back and listened. After all, if a group of friends can't have an honest conversation that gets a bit rough around the edges, in a safe place, you are being driven by fear I think, and there is nothing to fear here.

Then on Friday I was having lunch with some team mates. I was in the middle of the table, with three on each side of where I sat. On my right, someone was being deliberately provocative of another and eliciting some frustration from their conversation partner, while on the other side of me three people were having a conversation in which I wasn't involved.

For sure I would normally have tried to bring peace somehow to the couple on my right,  but it was their conversation (the new me realized,) so I stayed out of it and just quietly and happily, sat and listened to both conversations. But a funny thing happened. It was like a forest in which the birds stopped singing one by one. An obvious silence gradually fell at the table and everyone looked at each other uncomfortably. Someone laughed and said, "Belinda isn't saying anything."

I wasn't, and it was a bit weird! :) Maybe I should have said something but I don't know what. :) I've learned what not to do but not quite what to do.

Well, that is my Saturday This and That.


Dave Hingsburger said...

Belinda, there was research done some while back that showed that those of us who grew up in violent, abusive or angry homes developed the ability to read subtle changes in others moods ... it was then a survival strategy. I find that I can easily read a room, read anger on faces that others see as passive. I long ago gave up the role of peace maker - it was a trade off for the role of provocateur (sp?) which I wanted, I wanted to be an agent of change not subject to the need to placate. It was hard to do, but I managed. Even though I wouldn't wish that kind of 'learning' on anyone, it's interesting to note that what one learns, one learns for life.

Belinda said...

Dave, yes, so many of us sadly had cause to develop that survival skill. I see it in my brother in almost every conversation and look forward to talking to him about it when we are together at the end of July, with the insight I gained from the book.

Can you teach me how to be a provocateur? :) Ha ha! I think that might be an impossible task!

Self awareness is the thing. I'm sure that once it isn't an "automatic response," it might be a tool that can be used handily at times.

Anonymous said...

Belinda, were you and I in the same home group on Thursday? Perhaps you will enlighten me this week.


Belinda said...

Hey JA,
Yes we were! :) I was tuned in to some emotions and discomfort in the room but it wasn't a bad thing. In challenging the status quo and being honest, that is going to happen. It's interesting that you didn't experience it the same way--and that's probably a good thing too.