Round this time of year, we see many little huts cropping up around town. Small and fragile little spots, often decorated by the loving hands of children and their parents, house families and guests for many a meal or daring sleepover for the next 8 days or so.
I’ve been thinking about these huts differently this year. I have been noticing that we build our own huts internally, and if we are not careful, we allow ourselves, our hurts and frustrations, to be the material for the walls and the emptiness we feel from these perceived wrongs from our friends and family the only thing that accompanies us. Instead of using our huts as sources of nourishment we use them instead as means to separation and isolation.
Meta-messages I think they can be called. These are the in between things that we sometimes glean from the spontaneous comment from another. A stranger in line at the bank. The difficult seeming authority figure on the phone. These messages become even more weighty when they come from the mouth of a loved one. “You watching the game?” This kind of query can turn from a simple question into a perceived accusation. “Careful not to leave anything behind, can morph from a loving reminder to a deep personal dig at someone’s irresponsible nature.
Both parties of communication need to take an active part in the dialogue in order for these meta messages to be addressed. The person delivering the message needs to really check in- is there truth behind the perceived judgment? And if so, maybe there is a more specific way to address it with the other? And the person listening- are you really listening with ears in the present? Or are your stored up feelings of accusation causing you to hear even this one simple remark also from that voice?
These messages can underline our personal” huts”, making it impossible for others to be invited in. And that can only lead to suffering. Protection from the hurtful barbs of another of course can be helpful. But not in simple reactive mode. Rather, than build a whole house away from those we love whose messages you might be weighed down with our wrong (or right!) perceptions, we need to learn to take the more difficult road, the road toward honest communication. Hey, what did you mean by that, because this is what I heard you say, and that sort of conversation openers….
Difficult maybe, and worth it. For a few minutes of uncomfortable dialogue might be worth years of happier hut sharing time.