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.
6 thoughts on “Subtitles”
All too true!
I wish I could visit that beautiful place pictured above. That’s how I hope to spend my time during the millennial kingdom – visiting all the amazing sites I’ve missed out on thus far. I plan to take my children with me! 😉
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Once again your words are perfect. Concise truth that helps me tremendously. I often think of the quote – “For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.” I think you shared this on an earlier post. I remind myself of this and try not to expect something from others that they are not capable of giving. At the same time, I am just trying to get through one day at a time and protect what is left of this shattered heart. If that means staying away from certain people or situations, that’s just how it has to be right now (and maybe for the rest of my life).
I am so sorry that you and I are in the “those who understand” group. I wish nobody ever had to be in this group. But since we are here, please know how thankful I am that you are willing to share your heart. Your words are comforting and helpful to many broken and hurting moms. Hugs!
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I, too, am sorry we share this understanding but thankful that together we can be stronger. Janet Boxx has written many times about how affirmation of our feelings as bereaved parents goes such a long way to help us toward healing. I’m thankful that you find the words helpful.
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This resonated with me deeply! You’ve managed to put into words what I felt for a few years after my cancer diagnosis and treatment – how peope continued to treat me like the “old me” even though (I felt) I had changed or rather, *been* changed (which is all the more unpleasant because its source is external to oneself). Thank you for this – I’ve never been able to “word” it properly.
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It took me a long time to understand it with my in-laws, but that gave me a bit of a head start in this journey. Trying to communicate across language, cultural and experiential barriers is so very hard. I don’t really blame those outside our experience for not understanding. I would simply appreciate acknowledgement of the extra effort it takes for me to be in company of others every day.