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10.25.2011

ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM

I don't like elephants in the room.  They are not designed for indoors.  And when they are inside, it leaves little space for anything else.  Movement is restricted.  What a great euphemism.  A grand word picture painting the obvious enormity of some issues and the ignoring almost blind approach to them.  I really believe that most things are better served by talking about them, dealing with the issue.  Difficult as it may be to approach some subject matters due to their sensitivity, size, possible volatility or emotional connection, ignoring them only adds to the perplexity of it.  Denial is not a solution.  It just delays the hurt, the confusion, the awkwardness, the pain - continually keeping it close though silent.  Not addressing something doesn't mean it's not there or that it doesn't hold sway.  Just the opposite is true.  Investigating an issue, speaking out loud what is trapped allows processing which can usually lead to some sort of peace with the person, the issue, the emotion. I don't thrive on elephants in the room.  But conversely, I don't want them crowding out the beauty of the room either.  I usually choose to address them.  Most of the time it works.  Most of the time I think the people involved, but who are unable to address it, are thankful - relieved almost to give the situation acknowledgment - that the stinger has been removed.  There are times though, where those in the room with the elephant just will not acknowledge it.  Over the past months I have addressed an elephant in the room with two people.  I cannot emphatically say that it changed the course of the situation.  What it did was allow the issue to be spoken out loud.  It validated that there were relationships that were not operating on a two way street.  I gave them opportunity to talk freely about the issue.   Both really chose to not be honest, to not want to grapple with their feelings or the underlying reason for them.  I felt better though.  I knew that I had done all I could with those two people to restore and re-establish a relationship with truth and honesty.  Remarriage can cause some elephants in the room.  Especially when you have kids with a previous mate and your lives continue to cross from time to time.  I desperately want this half of my life to be markedly different than the first half.  I have been married before and so has my spouse.  Recently moving Doug's daughter and husband meant his ex-spouse and her husband would be helping with the move also.  We had been around them other times for grandkids birthdays and recitals.  It was just uncomfortable - more so for them than myself.  I did not want the day to be rough as it was about Doug's daughter and her husband, not any of us four.   This would one of many interactions over the years where this sort of new definition of a family would be together.  I chose to talk to Doug's ex about that elephant in the room as her and I loaded our vehicles with stuff to be transported in the move.  Trying to validate her uncomfortableness, I expressed how great her and Doug's kids and grandkids were, how I didn't want to make things hard or uncomfortable for her or her husband Scott, that I truly wanted us to find a way to be ok, that I understood what it is like to be married for 25 years and then divorce.  I also told her that I wasn't going anywhere-here for the long haul and would love to find a way to make things better.  She admitted that the uncomfortableness was her.  I hugged her.  Something changed at that moment.  She let her guard down, relaxed and the day went very well.  Addressing the elephant in the room allowed her to be validated in how she might have felt, acknowledged the obvious, and also helped her know I was real.  Elephants are big, step on things and take up way too much of the room.  It's best they find their real habitat, the out of doors!

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