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The Importance of Completed Conversations

This reflective piece was submitted by NCDD member Katy Byrne, MFT Psychotherapist, columnist, radio host, and public speaker, via our Submit-to-Blog Form. Do you have news you want to share with the NCDD network? Just click here to submit your news post for the NCDD Blog!

“We live in a time when there are so many sophisticated means for communication: email, telephone, fax, yet it is very difficult for individuals, groups, and nations to communicate with each other. We feel we can’t use words to speak, and so we use bombs to communicate.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Calming The Fearful Mind.

Hairballs aren’t easy.

Why do we leave, abandon, disappear, walk away or never talk to someone again?

Those silly fights or sudden break ups, what’s that about? Twenty, thirty, forty years and vamoose… gone. What‘s up with that? Sometimes it’s a wife, a sister, a friend who just blows up and loses it. “Hey, what happened?” we ask ourselveswhile reading multiple emails with words in black and white.

Some of the past loves of our lives were important .Some died and we lost the opportunity for final closure. A few had unhappy endings. But don’t many of us have a couple past relations that were torn apart like a ripped sleeve?

As we age, don’t we want to be at peace with old friends or family? Don’t we want to feel complete with loved ones when we die? But it takes courage to reach out before it’s too late. It’s not easy to listen to unpleasant feedback or to risk speaking up.

I usually fear folks who yell or blame me. So, I excuse myself, “nuff of that…I’ve been around the bend and I don’t want to go there again.” Is it a way of letting myself off the hook? Or, is it time to let go? If I don’t step up to difficult conversations, who will?

Sometimes I still felt this edgy, lonely feeling inside about some people I cared for
who disappeared or maybe it was me who left them. So, what to do?

Hey, I wrote a book about the courage to speak up, but I have a helluva time doing it myself sometimes. I was writing about the importance of communication and self-responsibility, so I knew that I might have a part in these separations.

I wanted to risk knowing whatever I could about relationship rifts. It was for my own healing but also for the world – since splitting off from others and anger seems to be the problem of the planet. So I started a campaign.

With one old friend all it took was a phone call and we’re fine now. Later, I was a “wuss” with a relative and sent a hand-written letter using my skills to dwell on intention and wishes. I never heard back.

Another person didn’t want to talk about our break-up because she’s into meditation and love. I thought “what’s love got to do with it?” No, really I thought bridging gaps was love.

Anyway, to an old colleague, I said I didn‘t like doing this on email. Could we talk by phone? She insisted on computerized hairballs! So, I tried it, reluctantly.

Umpteen emails later we had different views of our split. She insisted it was nothing personal… just a new stage of life. I felt better that at least we “talked” about it.

Another acquaintance claimed he was just busy. I said, “Do you think there might be some other teensy, eensy thing, since I don’t hear from you anymore?” Bless his heart, he did finally send a loooooong  email saying he was surprised to find that even though it was twelve years later, sure ‘nuff… he did have unexpressed feelings but needed more time to sort through them. It kinda left the hairball up in the air, but at least I practiced bravery.

One old pal surprised me. He came over for coffee after my call and we told the whole truth- judgments, different perceptions and all. We talked it through and ended laughing with deep belly laughs– hairballs gone!

This old world is so full of blame and separation; can’t we do our part to mend it? What matters most?

John Donohue says: “Your way of life has so little to do with what you feel and love in the world but because of the many demands on you and responsibilities you have, you feel helpless to gather yourself; you are dragged in so many directions away from true belonging.”

I believe completion is better, can it always occur? Maybe not. But, do we have the courage to try?

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This post was submitted by a member of the NCDD community. NCDD members are leaders and future leaders in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and community problem solving. You, too, can post to the NCDD blog by completing the Add-to-Blog form at www.ncdd.org/submit.

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