Friday, January 05, 2007

Question of the Week #20: Building Bridges

Many of the Dismaying Stories from last year dealt with situations where couples did things that stressed the bond of closeness between the two of them. I would like to turn that around this week and look at the positive side. Rather than tearing down emotional bridges, I'm sure we'd all rather spend our time and energy strengthening our relationships.

So tell me a happy story. What was the best thing you ever did to bring you and another person closer together? It could be anyone -- a friend, lover, parent, child ... whomever. And hopefully it's obvious I don't mean "closeness" as in physical proximity; I'm talking about tightening up those heartstrings.

Were you at home or far away? Did this take place long ago or earlier today?

Was it legal?

Come on, what really worked well? Take a moment and give all the other Faithful Readers out there a chance to say "Awwww" and reach for a Kleenex.

I'll post my personal favorite next week, along with a link to the author's blog.


  1. I'd cyber "met" someone on the internet, and we were in the nice, slow process of developing a phone friendship as well. We had been talking for several months maybe once a week.
    There were a few times she showed her vulnerability, and had been in pain and doubt over herself... Some aspect of really clear wamrth/tenderness/connection and genuineness just sort of came through me, and I was able to be really supportive and encouraging to her.
    She said she really felt heard, and that our friendship had turned a corner.
    It meant a lot to me, to be able to give like that, and then be given to so sweetly in return.

  2. I have no idea what I did to deserve the closeness between my daughters and myself. All I know is that when I was a kid, I dreamed of leaving the nest and going far and fast. Which I did, but lived to regret it. My girls have chosen to stay close and stay in touch. I am humbled and delighted by that. I never really knew if I was doing anything right as a parent, and, for a while there, it seemed as if I was doing everything wrong. Of course, most of my memories of raising them focus on things I did wrong. Yet, they remember times I was there for them, listened to them, made parties for them out of nothing, and stood up for them.

    They always knew I loved them, and actions speak louder than words.

  3. My parents separated when I was 3.5 years. Through my mother's actions and telephone messages it was clear that she had not left my father, but had left us children. I felt abandoned and without a mother the remainder of my childhood.

    As an adult, my parents reconciled and my mother would tell me she loved me and that she was sorry, but I could not feel close to her and I never reciprocated the words.

    Then one day when I was 27 or 28, I was finally able to lay the past to rest. I bought 2 dozen carnations, my mother's favorite flower, without any occasion to give flowers other than my thoughts, and on the card I wrote, "Mom, I forgive you, I love you". Tears streamed down both of our faces as we hugged.

    Simply by allowing myself to forgive and to love her and finding the courage to express it to her was enough to awaken a part of me that was closed off. My mother and I felt at peace for the first time and our relationship has been strong ever since.

    >>>Not sure if it was sent previously or not, couldn't recall exactly how I relayed my story.

  4. Hi, Andrew. Springing over via Klynn, and LOL over your profile info!

    I have a saying that works for me: if your family isn't there for you, make your own family. So many of us are let down by relatives who are less than supportive (sometimes outright poisonous), and life can be so hard at times. We need to cultivate friendships with caring people who believe in reaching out to others in need.

    My neighbor of over 20 years and I are now going through mid-life issues together, and we have grown closer than sisters just by extending a compassionate hand. In the absence of solid family support, we believe in caring for each other as if we were blood relations.

    As a rewarding side effect of this attitude, one of my children has been consistently helping my neighbor with the care of her mother, who has end-stage Alzheimer's. It's rare to see this kind of devotion in a person so young.

  5. Last year majority of my time was spent with my boyfriend, as that itself takes time to built a relation , to get to know someone new and the best part was that he wanted us to do everything together, be it shopping for doing the interiors of the house to persuing our hobbies. But at the same time i realised that i wasnt able to spend as much of time as i used with my mom and dad.

    This year i have decided to spend a lot of time with them. Like being there with them for dinner or weekend lunches etc. Taking mom out for shopping and sitting with Dad to discuss his plans on investments etc. I have started doing that since these 7 days of begining of the year, and I am at Peace. As many a times i use to wake up thinking that my parents are old and if i dont spend enough time with them, soon i will regret having not done it, when i will not have them around.

  6. My story isn't about something I did, but something my husband did.

    In December of 2002, my husband and I had been married a little over a year, and it had been a stressful year at that. The 9/11 attacks caused massive layoffs and we found ourselves with new jobs in new industries in a new city. My son's father had taken us to court several times, and my own father was being deployed to Iraq. San Jose isn't a cheap place to live, so money was an ever-present problem.

    It seemed like we were at each other's throats constantly. I was beginning to question whether I was "marriage material."

    Then my husband did something that let me know I had married the right one. When a man from our company died of leukemia, the employees rallied around his widow and four children. My husband and I were asked to work at a fund-raising event during which the deceased's motorcycle would be raffled off. My husband and I bought a ticket to support the widow, worked at the event and went home before the raffle. When we found out that we had won the bike the first thing out of my husband's mouth was "We should sell it and give the money to [the widow]."

    I can't remember how much the bike eventually sold for. I can tell you that the compassion and selflessness that my husband displayed in coming up with and executing that idea meant more to me than anything. For me, it was a huge wake-up call during which I learned the caliber of the man I had married.

  7. Okay, since you didn't preface a timeline, I'll give you one, Andrew.
    My eldest son, the Legal Adult, was then 9 and I was married to his dad at the time. We were left alone alot,( by ex) and I had broken my promises of taking him to Six Flags over and over again due to my ex's job, money, time. I could see the pain on his face each time I did it to him.
    One day, I was totally irresponsible about money. I told him to get dressed, we were driving to Atlanta and going to Six Flags. He was shocked, but he hurried and we were almost at the car when my ex awoke out of his nap. After he found out where we were going, he decided he had to come as well, therefore, he should drive. Due to that fact, we DIDN'T make it to Six Flags, (only one car then)as he explained that we just couldn't afford it, I need to clear it with him...blah, blah, blah. You're probably wondering about the heartstring thing in this story...well, after going to bat for what my son wanted, and him finding out that it wasn't me that was sabotaging it, he and I got a lot closer.
    After he was older, and a divorce later, we went to Myrtle Beach!

  8. Anonymous2:03 PM

    I always thought I needed to rule the world with my confidence and talents, but found myself lost when my wife and I both lost our jobs. In 1993, we went from yuppies to losing everything in eighteen months. I started to drink and soon lost myself in the bottle. My wife watched me deteriorate, but refused to give up on me, even when I left her and blamed her for all the problems in our lives. But soon she had to let me go, and she did. I had an awakening and came to her and asked if we could save the marriage. She showed me divorce papers and said she had reached a point of indifference. I asked if she would give me chance and put the papers in a drawer until we got some help. Three months later I paid her back for the lawyer and we burned the papers together, stayed in therapy and I got sober. That was eleven years ago and we are happier than ever. I am my 15 year old son's hero and my wife loves me unconditionally. But more important, I love them and will never allow the world to come between them and myself again. This year we will celebrate 23 years of marriage, we are both successful and we have a new home and a blessed life. I am grateful each day that the moment I arrived at her door and asked if she could try again, she didn’t slam it in my face. She often tells me she never wanted a divorce, but thought I was too far gone to save. She never gave up on me and I will always adore her for that. My message? Easy, humility and unconditional love can repair so much pain. Forgiveness is essential and patience helps, but unconditional love breeds love unconditionally. - Tom

  9. Like 'ronni' said earlier, i really don't know what it is but I am truly grateful for the closeness I have with both my mother and my daughter. I am so truly grateful for the love and respect my daughter gives me and for the things that my mother and I can talk about so freely.

  10. My oldest sister and I had never been close. She was 14 years older than I, and in all of our interactions we usually ended up not speaking to each other. All of that changed when I moved back home to care for my father. She was the supervisor while I was the care-taker following her rules. Many times we had some pretty heated arguments. But we also started to talk, and share stories about our lives and thoughts. We found we had many interests in common. Somewhere along the way, we became friends, and joked about the past. Being the oldest, she had always been a leader, and I always admired her for following her dreams, and seeking a career versus the wife and mother route. I watched her battle cancer, and when her blood work came back, we both rejoiced at the good levels, and tried to understand what the bad levels meant. She went into remission, and we were ecstatic.

    Later, after my father's death, and I moved away, we kept in touch, by phone, and we could call each other any time, day or night, and whatever the problem, we ended up laughing. I suffered a loss in my life that was beyond pain. And she was there. She had the kindness to just let me talk, and did her best to comfort me. In our last conversation, she told me she loved me, and I said the same. These were words she did not say that often.

    I am just so grateful that we were able to overcome our differences, accept each other, and be not only sisters, but friends, wonderful friends, as well. Not a day goes by that I do not think of her. I will always treasure our time together.

  11. My husband is a recovering addict, clean almost two years now. He was addicted to one thing or another for most of our adult lives--and we've been together for 28 years.

    I purposely began there for a reson. Have you ever tried to build a "close" relationship in that environment? It is, by nature, fraught with deceit, disrespect, conflict, anger, resentment, and bitterness. In short, it is quite impossible to establish and maintain a "close" relationship. Distance is a good friend in that environment.

    And yet, my relationship with my daughter is my most treasured one. She and I have always shared most everything, even when it was apparent that one of us disapproved of it for one reason or another. We weathered the storms of her adolescence and first year of college together, made all the more poignant by our struggling to cope with the problems inherent in the above-mentioned situation. We even got through the near-catastrophic episode involving the man she met online, who was 14 years older than she was and also a drug abuser. (She has since told him that she will be his "friend" but no more...thank God.)

    We didn't always agree--far from it--but we always had deep respect for each other. I feel closer to her now than ever, because of all we shared together. Sharing, trust, and respect have been the most important elements in creating the bond that we now have.

    And the last couple of years have produced a new kind of closeness in my relationship with my husband, as well! He is finishing up his Associate Degree in medical laboratory technology, a longtime dream of his. I work two jobs to make it possible for him to attend college full-time. It's been tough, really hard sometimes, but I know that we are working together toward a common goal now and I have mostly forgiven him for the misery of the "addicted" years. To his credit, he was never abusive and always supported our daughter. I told him point-blank more than once over the years that I only stayed with him because of her, but I stay now for a different reason entirely.

    The turning point was his arrest, in April 2005, but what a difference it made in our lives.

    Life is good.