My husband is the child of immigrants. And even thirty years after coming to America, my in-laws preferred their native Italian to English.
So when we would be in a crowded room, comments flying, I struggled to keep up with what was being said because I didn’t speak the same language.
As the years went by and our relationship deepened, I realized they had the same struggle when I would try to communicate complex truth in English. It wasn’t their heart language and some things just didn’t translate well.
Sometimes feelings got hurt because what one of us thought we were saying was not what the other person heard.
Subtitles would have been useful.
The other day in an attempt to keep my unwell body in a chair, I pulled up Amazon and picked a movie. It was in French with subtitles.
I thought, “I’ll try it.”
But as the movie went on, I realized that I was unable to give full attention to either the action of the movie or the subtitles that interpreted the dialogue.
It took way more effort than I was willing to commit to what was supposed to be a relaxing couple of hours.
So I turned it off.
Today someone in a bereaved parents group to which I belong asked if anyone else found holidays exhausting.
The comments were a resounding “yes”!
The more I thought about it the more I realized that a big part of what makes it so exhausting is a communication gap.
I am not the same as I was before burying a child.
My family is not the same.
Nothing is the same.
Some of the “not the same” is the gap between my understanding of how I have changed and the lack of understanding by others about how I have changed.
Many friends, extended family members and acquaintances continue to relate to me as if I’m the “old” me. That creates tension and requires energy to deal with-I either have to overlook it, try to help them understand or figure out how to deal with it some other way.
We’re just not speaking the same language anymore.
Sometimes I think subtitles would be helpful.
But even then it would still be exhausting.