Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tell Me What I Want To Hear, Not What You Really Think

I had come up with the name for my crafty dive into entrepreneurship. I was pleased with myself. I thought it was clever. Catchy. I couldn't wait to share my excitement. So, of course I grabbed my phone and shot out a quick text to one of my sisters.

"Honestly, I don't care for it", was her reply. Followed by a parade of name suggestions she thought more appropriate.

I was crushed. My spirit was broken. The spark I had felt fizzled out. I had wanted (and expected) her response to be the same as mine to my idea. I had wanted her excited approval. And when that wasn't what I got. I was hurt. I was disappointed. And yes - I was a little angry.

At 40+ years into my life, I still want the approval and admiration of my sisters. Yes, I know I'm a grown woman. But just because I shouldn't need their admiration and approval, doesn't mean I don't still want it. Or maybe it would be more correct to say that I DON'T need it, but I DO want it. I admit it. Even at my age, I still want my little sisters to look up to me like when we were kids. Call it what you will, but it's just a fact.

Of course she had no idea how she had hurt my feelings. She was trying to be helpful. She was just sharing her opinion. I had left myself open for that. But knowing it wasn't intended to be hurtful didn't take the sting away. Or heal the bruised place inside.

Fortunately, realizing she hadn't meant anything harmful in her words made it possible for me to fight back my knee-jerk reaction to respond in anger with bitter words. I bit my tongue.  I let the initial sting wear off. She is probably going to be completely shocked when she reads this (and she may even be angry with me for a short while for sharing this so publicly).

And in the end, if I'm being honest. I didn't need her approval. I'm still going with the name I had picked out and been so excited about (probably).

Our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago - the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider.... It doesn't seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we've traveled. ~Jane Mersky Leder

4 comments:

  1. I don't have any siblings (well, a step-sister that lives a whole 3,000 miles away) but I do understand that need for approval. When I don't get it, I question whether I'm any good at anything. How silly is that? Very...I know. But, I get back on that horse and, like you, go through with it anyway. Eh...what the heck. ;-)

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    1. I know what you mean about questioning whether you are any good at anything! It is silly, but I find myself doing the same thing sometimes.

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  2. Yes, sisters carry a lot of weight...listen to what they say, but realize that you are very capable of making your own decisions. I hurt my sister a while back, she thought I was being critical of her (I thought I was just giving my opinion). I try to think more carefully now before I respond to something she says. I think part of it is that we feel safe with our sisters, safe enough to say what we think without censoring it. And sometimes we have to stop and remember that sisters have feelings too. I learned this the hard way, after inadvertently hurting my sister, who is my heart.

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  3. I think you are 100% right about feeling safe enough to speak uncensored with our sisters! I also find that sisters can always find that one nerve that leads right back to all those childhood insecurities - even when they don't mean to hurt.

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