Have you ever overheard a gossip conversation you weren’t supposed to hear? Because it was about you?
Four years ago I was going about doing normal, everyday things. Errands, shopping, mom stuff. I realized I missed a call and there was an unheard voicemail. No big deal, right? So I listened to it.
Muffled voices came through the phone.
My mind tried to make sense of the moment. “Wait, isn’t that Jane*? Did she butt-dial me? Or maybe she didn’t hang up when the call went to voicemail?”
I strained to hear what they were saying. It was my fly-on-the-wall moment. “What are they saying? Are they talking about me?!? ”
Usually butt-dials are uneventful or voices are too muffled to hear. But not this call. No. This call crushed me. I heard every word.
The voicemail went on for four minutes. Four minutes that felt like four hours. Four minutes that made my world stand still. Four minutes of a conversation between two people who talked. About me. The whole time.
The words stung. The words cut into my character—my integrity.
In the days following the voicemail ordeal, I addressed this person, and attempts were made to “fix” the hurt. But I couldn’t get past the betrayal.
Years went by, and I decided I was OK with not having a relationship with this person anymore. I decided I didn’t trust her. I would talk about this event in my life – sort of like my way of getting over it – and justified this voicemail ordeal as an unfixable relationship (by my choice, I might add.)
But something was going on I didn’t realize. I chose to self-heal by talking to other people. I talked out loud about how I didn’t want the relationship with Jane* anymore. But my kids… they were listening to my every word.
Fast forward. Two weeks ago.
I receive a text. A text from a good friend. But wait. This text wasn’t intended for me – but it was sort of about me. Are you freaking kidding me? Again? NOT AGAIN! I lost it. I crawled into my little self-pity hole and stayed there for 48 hours. My friend tried to call me to apologize, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
Now let me clarify. The text. It wasn’t that big of a deal. It wasn’t. But my hurt soul from four years ago… it came back full-force.
So after 48 hours, I decided I didn’t want to lose this friend. So I texted back a lengthy “I’m sorry for not answering your call. I know you didn’t mean anything bad. We’re good.”
However this text situation and its quick resolution? It brought the voicemail ordeal to mind again… and it weighed heavy on me. But not for the reasons from before. This time I realized how wrong I was to allow a hurt relationship (with someone I really did care about) to continue for four years.
And worse. To let my kids think that this way of dealing with a hurt relationship was OK.
So I called Jane*. We cried. We talked for a while. We apologized. We cried some more.
That was huge, but I knew I wasn’t done yet. My kids needed to know too, so I shared with them the importance of relationships. Especially the importance of not letting a broken relationship go unfixed.
Our kids listen to us. They model our behavior. Their only blueprint to life is what they see and hear from people around them. They learn from what we do more than what we say.
I admit I’m not a perfect role model. I admit I fall short. A lot. This blog post is an excellent example of that. But I know the only way to keep moving forward, is to continue seeking what is good, honest, and what is honorable. These are the characteristics I want my kids to learn from me. To hear from me. To see in me. To model from me.
Do you have a broken relationship that could be fixed? I know it’s hard. Believe me, I do. But if just one of you takes a big deep breath… and calls the other to say, “I’m sorry.” I strongly encourage you to be that person. Call them. Now.
*my friend’s names have been changed, and they know I wrote this post. I love them both dearly!