Is There Anything Left Unsaid Between You and Another Person?

Physical distancing and truth sharing in the era of Covid-19

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Photo credit: iStockPhoto

By Phil Bohlender

Throughout my adult life, I have sought the services of mental health professionals for deep work or check-ins. Each time that I invested time in my own mental health well-being and self-care, I came out with some amazing tools to support me.

Early on in my 20s, I found myself seeking counseling for issues related to my childhood. I saw how those issues impeded on my abilities to have healthy adult relationships. I learned about boundaries.

In my 30s, I found guidance with a therapist about struggles with feeling lonely and distanced in my relationship. I felt with tremendous sadness and had my first bout with depression. I learned to seek help sooner rather than later, if and when something came up.

My 40s were punctuated by couples counseling. I was in and out seasons for the both of us and on my own. For some of the time, I felt like my therapy was a second career. When that relationship ended abruptly, I had the tools that I needed to survive and thrive.

When I hit my 50s, I embarked on a new life as a single man for the first time in 30 years. I knew getting into counseling was the right thing for me. I mitigated another bout of depression by applying a lesson learned from my 30s.

I am easing into my 60s with the thought, many of the lessons that I learned over the years are supporting me. I find myself reflecting and remembering things that I learned earlier in life. Some may refer to it as wisdom.

In many of my reflections, there is one lesson that stands out for me as being one of the most powerful.

The tool is wrapped in a question that seems to have come at the perfect time; while most of us are practicing some form of physical distancing for the foreseeable future.

Is there anything left unsaid between you and fill in the blank?

The fill in the blank might be a partner or spouse-current or former, a parent, a sibling, a family member, a friend, a boss-current or former, or colleague current or former?

In addition to the first time I learned about this question, there have been two other times in my life when I spent time reflecting on my responses to this question.

The second time was when my husband was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease and my world crashed around me in a blink of an eye. Everything about my life, with him, changed from that moment forward. It has not resembled itself since.

I knew, in my heart, that this was going to be the perfect time to keep that question front and center in my mind and in conversations with my husband.

During the two years that he fought to stay alive before his transplant, I loved him in a way that made answering this question effortlessly.

I did my best to make sure that each and every one of our conversations was honest and meaningful. This was not always easy when we were challenged with making some life or death decisions. Nothing was left unsaid.

To this day I make sure that I ask is there more before we end our conversations. This closing question gives us both the chance to say whatever might be in our minds or on our hearts.

This is my way of making sure that I do not have anything left unsaid with my husband, ever.

The third time that this question came to the front of mind, is now with the Corvid-19 quarantine. As I reflected on my relationships and whether or not, I had left anything unsaid, I realized without hesitation that is was with my dad.

My parents were divorced when I was 10 years old, and I have struggled to have a meaningful relationship with my dad for 50 years. There have been periods of time in our relationship when we were in contact with each other regularly. When we were in regular contact, we resembled a normal father-son relationship; when we were distanced by long periods of silence and distance we looked like complete strangers.

Whether we were in contact or distanced, the one thing that was common to either experience was me leaving things unsaid with my dad. For whatever reason; my guess is that I let fear silence me, I did not bring up the things that were on my mind or in my heart with him.

I continue to have thoughts about reaching out to my dad and sharing what is left unsaid. At this point, I am not even sure that my thoughts are organized. Speaking my truth has not always been pretty and having disorganized thought might just make it worse.

Does the question, Is there anything left unsaid between you and fill in the blank? resonate for you in this strange time of physical distancing?

Are you ready to share what has been, up until now, left unsaid with another person? Is the Corvid-19 quarantine the impetus for you to reach out to another person to say the things that are on your mind and in your heart?

I won’t attempt to answer that for you or for me. I have not landed on a decision for my situation and will trust that the best next action will come to me in perfect timing.

I accept the responsibility that comes with having something to say to another person and not getting it out.

In this pandemic, with its quarantines, there are people who are not given the opportunity to say anything to their loved ones before they become gravely ill or worse pass away.

Tell the ones you love, what’s on your mind and in your heart when you have the chance. Stop taking for granted that you will another chance, it may not come.

With much love.

This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.

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