“No one understands me, and no one ever will understand me.”
When the person at the other end of the phone said this to me, I understood the frustration of not feeling understood.
Have you ever felt misunderstood? Have you ever felt no one could understand you?
I have. I’m guessing you have, too. It’s one of those universal experiences, the feeling that we’re alone in the world without hope of being ever understood.
And it can feel endlessly lonely….at least, until we consider the possibility of experiencing things in a different way.
My mother died of end-stage dementia. Dementia is a disease that defies understanding, at least it defies understanding in a mental way. The behaviors associated with dementia don’t make sense. How can it be possible to be happy and clear one moment, only to become violent and confused the next?
Brains, like kids, do the darnedest things.
I really, really wanted to understand my mother. When I was her full-time caregiver, I waited until she fell asleep before spending hours at my computer, researching every possible aspect of dementia. And after all the hundreds of hours of research, I came to the conclusion that, as smart as I was, I would never understand it mentally.
I could only hope to understand it emotionally.
I placed myself in what I thought were my mother’s shoes. How would I feel if I was suddenly terrified of riding in cars? How would I feel if I couldn’t remember why I had opened the refrigerator? How would I feel if I perceived the world had turned against me?
I considered these and many other questions before realizing her incomprehensible behaviors were being driven by fear. My years of spiritual studies had taught me there is an antidote to fear, a panacea that had the ability to tame the fiercest lion dementia had to offer.
That miracle cure turned out to be love.
I started connecting with my mother by quoting Lee Carroll, probably the best known channel for the being known as Kryon. I’d attended Kryon seminars for many years. I’d even brought my mother to a Kryon seminar as her 84th birthday present. Her perception of the way life worked was forever altered as a result of her experience at that seminar. She realized she was seeing only a small part of the all that is and opened to experiencing life at a richer level.
I remember Lee offering a eight word way to resolve all conflicts. I tried his eight words on my mother when she was at her angriest. When offered to her, over and over again if necessary, in a calm and love-filled voice, they always worked, I’m guessing because she really wanted them to work. She was, at her essence, love, and whenever she felt loved, her essence responded to a similar energy.
The eight words?
“I understand how you could feel that way.”
Did I always understand? I understood she was scared, but I didn’t always understand exactly what was scaring her. So I didn’t always understand her in the way she might have wanted me to understand. I eventually learned it really didn’t matter if I understood her from the level of the brain. I learned it mattered most that I wanted to understand her and did understand her to the very best of my ability to do so at the level of the heart, that I loved her unconditionally, and that I trusted that this moment of disconnect would fade away once she felt my love. She knew I tried to understand her, even if I didn’t always understand her, and that knowledge was enough for her. I know it would also be enough for me.
I also learned that understanding is an ongoing thing. I don’t want to be understood. I want someone to stay interested in discovering ways to understand me, as I stay interested in discovering ways to understand them, as that keeps our connection vibrantly alive.
People, with or without dementia, change. You might remember I loved the grilled salmon I had for lunch yesterday. What do I want for lunch today? Anything but salmon! If I wanted grilled salmon for lunch every day, you’d most likely stop being interested in who I am in this moment. And, at least to me, it’s the continual investigation of who am I and who are you that keeps life exciting and mysterious. That’s why I don’t want to be understood. I want people to stay interested in learning who I am in this moment, as I stay interested in learning who they are in this moment.
And in this moment.
And in this moment.
February 13 marks the second anniversary of my mother’s passing. I miss her and her love every day of my life, but I’m glad she’s now at peace. The less I understood her behavior, the more I loved her for who she was.
Thank you, Mom, for being my master teacher.
“I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.” Clarence Darrow
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