It was a difficult conversation to overhear from a son about his father: "I'm tired of him living here! I'm tired of losing my space with him underfoot, and he ignores what we say!"
This son is clearly at the end of his rope, and it's a story heard repeatedly. Who's to blame? The son who's 'done' with it all yet makes no attempts to understand or implement systems to help? The father who should have planned his life 'better' so he didn't end up living with his son? Is blame going to help clarify and balance all of this?
I frequently hear caregivers talk about frustrations, hurts, and misunderstandings; we know these things only wear on with time. At the core, in any relationship, without open communication, being willing to put down your armor of assumptions, and genuinely trying to understand the other person's perspective, you'll end up in a rut going round and round again.
Though often unrecognized, fear is at the core of what people are going through and stands in our way like a brick wall. It blocks us from those conversations and leads us to assume.
There are several types to be conscious of: For the son, perhaps fear of the unknown or becoming the same man himself later in life. Fear of his father dying and returning later wishing he had done something differently.
But naming our fears is only one step. When we can put down the baggage of assumptions and start asking questions, having conversations, even the difficult ones, and coming to new understandings, that's how we conquer those fears.
I ask you to consider this: Whether it is your work life, home life, or those you encounter while out and about, are you willing to set aside your assumptions and pause, whether at that moment or soon after, and open the lines of communication?
Now imagine how that earlier conversation might have gone if the fear hadn't been in the way: "Dad, I'm concerned and getting agitated over some things happening. This isn't easy for me, maybe not for you either, but can we sit down and talk about a few things?"
We all have fears that keep us from being our best selves. Moving through them isn't easy. But the result is that we have healthier, more meaningful relationships with the people we care for, and we're no longer trying to climb over the great wall of fear.