Violence, & Bears in Paris
I can see her shaking slightly from fatigue. My face is hot, as adrenaline begins to move through me. The body doesn’t understand when it’s too late.
Violence is not what I was expecting Mom to bring, when she joined me in Paris. I like Mom. I’ll keep her. She was incredibly tired after her 11 hour flight, but is not one to complain. With a sleepy smile she described how her journey took a violent turn. During the all night flight, she rested her head on the tray in front of her to sleep. The woman in front was well dressed & looked to be in her late 50s. Mom was drifting in & out of sleep when without warning the lady in front of her slammed her chair back. The force on Mom’s head was enough to make it bleed & become dizzy. This was not accidental, it was done with anger & as Mom described it, “-with all the woman’s strength.”
Let me set something straight. It is NOT alright to hurt my mother. Never in my life have I felt more protective. I felt myself grow 10 feet, & my biceps grow to melons. The fact that someone intensionally injured my mother turned me into a bear. Where was this woman?! I saw my exhausted mother alone, dizzy in a long flight. I felt hot tears. Passersby in the airport could have seen my claws. Mother is kindness itself. She would never knowingly make anyone uncomfortable. If this woman didn’t want her using the tray connected to her chair, Mother would have sat up straight all night. I’ve never heard her speak harshly to anyone, but neither is she a pushover. She raised children in New York City & Washington DC. I don’t want it to appear she’s weak. She simply puts others first, & would have for this stranger if only she had asked.
Can we talk about communication for a minute? The longer I’m a facilitator the more simple human interaction seems. From people we walk past, to our families, we interact with people constantly. Let’s attempt to make those experiences positive, by saying what we mean. Let’s practice open & honest communication. Let’s open our blue throat chakras people! No experience is too small & simple or too big & complicated. When did we decide it doesn’t serve us to be honest? Children are known for stating what they think. Their candor makes many adults blush, but we know what’s on their minds, so know how to respond. We grew out of that, out of our natural state of honesty. 10 minutes with my nephew Abraham is long enough to get thoroughly penetrated with honest thoughts.
Here are a couple examples. Most people who have been in a concentrated group of people have seen someone fall into, spill their drink on, or step on someone else. Usually it is an accident. What transpires can be any number of things. It is common to witness the victim instantly curse at, or shove back the perpetrator, or simply shoot them a glare. What if instead we take three seconds to be verbally honest?
“I didn’t like that you stepped on my foot.”
“Somebody fell into me, it was unintentional.”
A quick apology might even occur before both move on. This seems simple, but with understanding, the energy exchange is over. END SCENE. If someone spills on you at a concert & you choose to be irritated, you carry them with you. Did you come to hear the music, or dwell on one clumsy guy? Do you want a negative bond with that person? No? Then why hold onto them? When there is honest communication, the interaction is complete. It is simple & often takes a couple seconds. You may even receive a brief smile, which brings a positive bond.
A different kind of example is fresh on my mind. I recently had a long conversation with a guy I dated a few years ago who now lives out of the state. He is still a good friend. He was spiritual, native american, long haired, adventurous & green eyed. We spent many hours talking about the memories we shared together, & the things that lead to us parting ways.
We brought up shared memories & looked at both perspectives. Here is one of them. We went to a party with his friends, only a few of which I knew. I found a photo a friend took of us at the very party.
I had a good time & met a bunch of people, several of them are still my friends. He was being a little sulky. I tried getting him mingle with me, but he chose to be King Grumpy on the couch & we ended up leaving together early. I asked him what was going on, but he just said he wanted to go. I thought through his actions. He could have had something on his mind about the next day. Maybe he wasn’t feeling well. A mean little voice made me feel self conscious. Maybe I didn’t look cute, or he found something wrong with me. Thoughts like those are hard to shake, even with the most confident women. I had felt secure & carefree with the others milling around, but at the end of the day I cared what he thought more than everyone at the party combined. He was my boyfriend. I tried getting him to answer, but gave up. We never talked about it. Over time things like this added up.
Now, about five years later I found out the truth. My then boyfriend had noticed me talking with a guy at the party whom he didn’t know well. He did however know he was 6’5″ & looked to have about 250 pounds of muscle, not to mention he had a motorcycle that was exactly twice the size as his.
My boyfriend rode a V Star 750, & this guy had a Boulevard 1500. My boyfriend felt threatened. Here’s a photo of him from a few months later.
Let’s play out open & honest communication.
“Why are you sitting on the couch, instead of talking with everyone?”
“I was jealous when I saw you talking to that guy. It made me not want to be here.
“That didn’t occur to me. He told me he just moved here, & I was telling him about what you & I like to do in the area. I was also introducing him to Jaylyn who is single, friendly & knows the most people here. I am not interested in him. I want 100% to come & go with you. There’s no threat. If you had been alongside me like I wanted you to be, you’d have heard that there’s nothing to worry about. I actually talked about you most of the time. The bottom line is you matter more to me than this party. I get what was going on though. Would you mind being with me & the group for a bit, & we’ll leave in a half hour or so?”
“Alright, but then let’s go on a motorcycle ride or a night hike.”
“Sounds like a plan. When you were being a grumposaurus on the couch instead of hanging out with me, I thought you just didn’t want to be with me for some reason. I felt self conscious.”
“It was the opposite. I didn’t want to lose you. It makes sense now.”
It was this kind of misunderstanding that led to our breakup. Now as a facilitator I can see it’s a tale as old as time. This is a simple, & in many ways unimportant day in the life of Hannah. It was only a party, & only one instance. But unless we learn from our patterns, we repeat them. A couple with communication problems who have been married 40 years, likely started out as a young dating couple who, you guessed it, also had problems communicating what they honestly felt. From our significant other, that guy at the concert, to the woman behind us on the flight to Paris, let’s say what mean, & express verbally how we feel. We will have better relationships & better casual interactions. But at the moment the most important thing to come from honest verbal communication is, the kind woman behind you on your way to Paris with know you are trying to lean back. She will move, & you won’t feel the crazy need to bash her head. Her daughter in turn, won’t become a protective bear.