“Why didn’t you ask me?”, he vented with a voice full of disappointment. “Why didn’t you come to me? Who am I to you?”
“What do you I expect?”, I shouted. “We have no relationship! You weren’t there for years! You expect me to turn to you for advice? I wasn’t even thinking of you when I made that decision. If I had been thinking of you, I’m not sure I would have consulted you. Maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to! Even with all your expertise, you are not an authority for me.”
It was a bitter pill of truth for him to swallow.
“What were you thinking?”, he asked, shaking his head. “How did you even make that decision? Were you maybe thinking that, hooray, let’s all just follow the … –”
“Do you genuinely want to know?”, I interrupted him. “If you genuinely want to know what I was thinking, you’ll have to give me some silence to collect myself and respond.”
“Yes, yes, I want to know”, he iterated with impatience. “Or were you maybe thinking that it doesn’t matter … –”
“Stop that!”, I said. “Stop making assumptions! Calm down. If you really want to know, you need to calm down and give me some space in silence, so that I can remember and give you my genuine response.”
He agreed. We went into silence. I felt into my body and noticed that the adrenal hormones in my bloodstream were still rampant. I took a couple of breaths, attended to body and mind, and watched the waves of anger slowly ebb and fade into stillness. Eventually, I felt ready to share with him. And he was ready to listen, even though he didn’t like to hear what I had to say.
He told me how difficult it was for him to see us make these choices. I felt compassion and told him that I can see how hard it must be for him to see his offspring make decisions that he felt were terribly wrong. I also made clear that making sovereign life choices is the only way and not negotiable. Our communication and our relationship transformed as we were speaking with unprecedented frankness. We remained in disagreement about the basis for our dispute. Yet we agreed on how refreshing and healing it was for us to have just expressed our anger.
Towards the end, he said precious words and expressed tender emotions that I will never forget. I felt his love and mine – if not in other ways that I had often longed for, then clearly in this moment, in the absolute immediacy and intimacy of our connection.
After 42 years of life, this was our first open confrontation. Despite the sad context of our dispute, I’ve never felt more empowered, authentic, free, connected, and whole. Now I know for a fact that there is nothing to fear: not confrontation, nor anger, nor even love. Now I know for a fact that I am already free.