Listening equals love?

6 Apr

About a month before my dad died, I was sitting at the dinner table with him and my mom.  My mother had gotten up from the table for a minute.

My dad turned to me and said, “I’m glad you’re here.  This way I don’t have to listen to your mother.  You can listen to her instead.  Thank you for coming.”

I just stared at him, not knowing what to say.

“I really don’t care about what she says.  I just don’t.”

Telling my coach about that conversation last night just about broke my heart.  After 61 years, he didn’t care about her.  My poor mother.  How did that feel?  I couldn’t imagine going through life like that.

I recently hired a coach so that I can break through many areas of my life where I have felt stuck.  Last night I was looking at my relationships.  They have mostly followed a pattern I want to break.

I know I have a thing about men not wanting to listen to me.  Or anyone for that matter.  Like I talk too much.  Afraid I will use up any one person if I’m just myself.  To prevent that, I call different people so I can divvy up my talking quota and not overuse any one person.

And that’s how my relationships have gone.    I married my ex husband because he listened to me.  And then he stopped.

I fell in love with my last relationship because we were such good friends and I could tell him anything.  And at the end, he couldn’t wait to get away from me and not talk to me.

It seemed like the truth:  relationships start out good and then the guy doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.   I use them up.

I kept looking and looking last night.  After my call with my “male” coach, I was emailing him that I was afraid he wouldn’t want to listen to me either.  Like I was doing the coaching wrong and I was afraid he would stop listening, too, like all the other men.  (I knew having a male coach this time would bring my man issues to the surface.)  I kept writing and writing until I finally saw something huge.

I had collapsed listening with love.  That when my husband stopped listening to me I made it mean that he didn’t love me anymore.  And I pulled away.

And when the last guy would run off (he was late for work) and not have time to listen, he didn’t love me anymore.  And I would get crazy.  He couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him leave.  I couldn’t either.  It made no sense.

Until last night.  It seemed like my father didn’t want to listen to me.  And I had that mean that he could only love me if I was quiet and good and someone other then the real me.  My real self wasn’t lovable.

But once I uncollapsed love and listening, I could see that night differently.  Maybe he just didn’t feel well.  He wanted to lie down.  He was exhausted and just didn’t want to listen right then. If I didn’t want to listen to her at a certain time, that wouldn’t mean I didn’t love my mom.

And I know my dad loved my mom very much.  He said she was the best thing that ever happened to him.  That he didn’t know life could be this good.  And he was blessed. (And I’m glad I heard him say all that the Friday before he died).

So before, I thought that when men/people don’t want to listen it’s because I did something wrong.  That no one could love the real me who wants to talk sometimes.  I learned to be careful about how much I would say to each person.  And, if someone had to get off the phone suddenly or changed the subject on me, a part of me would kill off that relationship in my mind thinking I had been the bad, unlovable me.  And be more careful with that person in the future.

But, now that I’ve separated it, I can see that sometimes I don’t want to talk to people sometimes either, usually because I’m busy with something or just tired. And that has nothing to do with whether I love them or not.

It seems crazy, but I had listening equalling love.  And it just doesn’t.  If someone doesn’t want to or can’t listen to me at that moment, it has nothing to do with whether they love me or not. Wow!!  A new world has opened up.

It will be interesting to see what that insight will do for my life.  Sounds like a little more freedom in relationships, doesn’t it?




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