I have always been one of those people who would prefer to run into a conflict and blow it wide open. In fact, I find avoiding a conflict very uncomfortable and worrying.
While I was on maternity leave, I decided to go to the Justice Institute to learn more about conflict resolution. I loved spending time with others, exploring ideas around conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation. I was thrilled to gain my certification in 2005.
So many people found it odd and slightly amusing that I could not work through conflict with my mother-in-law. We fought and nothing ever got resolved. All of my training and models of communication went out the window as we slogged through years of tension and occasional eruptions.
It was about a year ago when my good friend witnessed an interaction with my mother-in-law and was completely astonished. She asked, “What has happened? There is love between the two of you!”
Upon reflection, I realized that there had been a change. Somewhere along the way, a sliver of compassion has penetrated my arm our. I had allowed myself to see and feel some of the suffering she was experiencing. I saw her differently. I sat with this and did not judge her. I allowed some space in and that was all it took.
This change in me caused a subtle ripple in our relationship. Everything was different. Softer. Safer.
I am now so grateful for my relationship with her. She has taught me so much about the way I want to show up with others. I am grateful for the challenging times she presented along the way and the vulnerability she allowed me to see. Our relationship has grown and so have I.