Natalie is the second of six children (the oldest is 10 years older from a previous marriage and never lived in Natalie’s home). Natalie’s mom suffered from mental illness for much of her life. She had lots of hurts and wounds in her childhood that created vows that said, “No one is capable of meeting my needs.”
Getting Present to a Painful Story
Recently, Natalie got in touch with a really painful story from her childhood. Her family didn’t have much money, so she had learned to not ask for much. As she was getting ready to start her freshman year of high school, she asked her mom for $20 to buy a new pair of jeans. That’s all she needed. But, her mom told her no because they didn’t have the money. Natalie went to her room, closed the door and wept on her bed. She had never asked for much…. Why couldn’t she have just one pair of new jeans? She felt so alone – and decided that, if even her legitimate needs couldn’t be met by those who “should” meet them, none of her needs could matter or be met by anyone else…so she was on her own to meet any need she may have.
Choosing Courage Over Comfort
Soon after Natalie remembered this story and how it fit in her vows and the ways she had learned to show up in the world, she had a chance to spend a few days with her dad. She knew she needed to have a transformation conversation with him about this story, but she was very hesitant. She was afraid he’d react as he had in the past to difficult things – that he would be defensive, dismiss or deny her story or her feelings, or simply crumble in self-pity. But, she shared the story anyway. She was very careful to say nothing to implicate him or make him feel bad.
He surprised her by listening, not getting defensive and instead acknowledged how it made sense that she would make that meaning from that story (and her childhood). What surprised her even more was the text she received from him, completely unsolicited, after she returned home the next day.
Natalie, I need to take ownership of any pain or discomfort that I caused you growing up. Especially that which still lingers today. I’m asking you for your forgiveness. You should know that I am now and always have been the president of the Natalie fan club. I don’t have to agree with everything you say or do, but my love for you will never change. I tried to raise you to be an independent thinker. And that is exactly what you’ve become. I never liked yes-men or women anyway.
The Impact of Transformation Conversations
Transformation conversations do make a difference. Casting vision for a preferred future does impact people in powerful ways. Imagine the impact this transformation conversation had on Natalie’s life and on her relationship to her dad.