“How can I have a loving and mutually respectful relationship with my twenty-year-old son when I find him impossible to live with?” Alison asks Byron Katie. She says she is hurt because her son refuses to talk to her. Once she begins to question her thoughts, with Byron Katie’s guidance, she realizes that she has been interpreting her son’s silence as hatred, rejection, and proof she’s failed as a mother. “We become angry,” Katie says, “when we think that our children are supposed to listen to us. Thoughts like this could use some questioning. Are we listening to us? Are we listening to them?”
Byron Katie: Allison, from… Hello. Hi! Hi, Allison. Hello Katie. Hello Susan. So, read the email that you sent. Right. My question: How can I have a loving and mutually respectful relationship with my son, who is now age 20, when I find him impossible to live with because of his attitude and behavior. He won’t talk to me, so I have no idea what it is I need to or could do to make things better, or if I just need to do nothing. It’s so painful. Yes, sweetheart. Oh, my goodness, my goodness, my goodness. There’s no time that I cannot relate, having three children and five grandchildren. And whereas I went to bed to try to escape and compulsive overeating and all kinds of things. I love that you do better than I did. And it’s a privilege to be with you this morning. (This morning from the U.S.) And so “it’s impossible for you to live with him.” Are you living with him? Does he live with you. No, he doesn’t, at the moment. OK. So, in that situation where he was living with you, it’s impossible? Yeah. It was impossible. Yeah. So, how do you react, what happens when you believe the thought, “It was impossible. It’s impossible to live with him”? I just feel really, really upset. Very hurt. And all sorts of failure. Yeah. Yeah. And then you experience the emotions that go with that. Yeah. And who would you be, in this moment now, without the thought, “Living with him is impossible.” Just now. It doesn’t mean, all you parents out there, it doesn’t mean you have to invite him back. You know? It’s just, this is inquiry. And it’s just right now in this moment, in this situation, who would you be without the thought, “It’s impossible to live with him”? So, look around you. Are you OK? Yeah. Just… It feels like letting go of something big and heavy. Freedom. Yes. That past and future in your head, all those images and here you are just right here right now. You know? So, is it him that was causing your stress or what you were thinking and believing about him that caused your stress? Yeah, what I was thinking and believing. Yes. In this moment now, which is the only moment that you’re ever going to experience. I mean, this is everything. So, “living with him is impossible.” Turn it around. Living with myself… Living with myself is impossible. Yes, in that moment, when you are believing that thought, and so upset, living with you was impossible with that in your head. And without that in your head, this amazing experience and connection with reality. This is it. This is a gift. And it always is, whether our sons are living with us or not. And some of us aren’t quite there yet. But this is it. So, “it’s impossible to live with my son.” Can you find another turnaround? It’s possible. It’s possible to live with my son? And how many years did you live with him? 20. Over 20. That’s a lot. That is more than most of us as parents can say. And just feel that. You did it. And you gave it; when you consider what you were thinking and believing, you and everyone plugged into this program today, you gave him everything you had. For better or for worse, it all came out of love. I mean, even when we’re screaming: Don’t you know there are drugs in that house? Not your son, but with our hypothetical one earlier. Don’t you know there are drugs in… You know? It’s like, I am terrified for my son. I mean, I’m just… It’s all coming out of love. Yeah. So, you lived with him. It wasn’t impossible for you to live with him. So, in this stillness that you discover in who you are without the thought, you can just get still in that and connect with that beautiful, loving parent that you were. And all that you give him: your life. Your life. All out of love. And I would so fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on him. Now, he’s quiet, he won’t talk, he is holding everything in. Yeah. That’s the situation. So, you see it in your mind’s eye when he was there. You see a situation where he just won’t talk; he’s silent. You see that? I do. OK. So, in that situation, how do you react? What are your fears when you look at him? What are you thinking and believing in that situation? That he hates me. OK. What else. That I’m; that he’s rejecting me. Yes. That’s a big one. Yes. And that I’ve failed as his parent. Yes. So, I’m hearing you don’t know what to say to him, you don’t know what to do either. So now you know. When he’s quiet like that and he’s completely shut down, then you can go to him and say: I want to share my fears with you. And I don’t expect you to hear me or listen, but I want to share them with you. I’m afraid you hate me. And I’m afraid… What were the other two? Susan: That she’s a failure. I’m afraid you see me as a failure as a mother, and I want you to know I’m here for you and I really love you. And I’m so afraid of your silence. And also, I feel like… What was the third one? Rejected. I feel like you reject me. Susan’s holding this for us. I’m afraid that you reject me as a mother. And as I look at myself, I understand why you would feel that way, if in fact you do, because I am so quiet. And I don’t share my feelings with you, or my thoughts. And if you’re open to it, I’d like to share more as it comes to me. And I’m really afraid. Now, he can respond to that or not, but one of you is now breaking the silence. One of you is talking and one of you are coming 100 percent from your heart and you’re connected to something that is so valuable. You’re getting your voice back. Yeah. Yeah. Because I have tried, but I realize thinking about it now that I then got angry. It sort of began with the right intentions but didn’t stick with the… But how could you get angry when you just shared such deep truths with him? We become angry; we share these deep truths and then we become angry and we think: He’s supposed to listen to me. He’s supposed to hear me. So, those are the things, that’s the situation, that belongs on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. And in our next series of this three-part series, we’ll surely get into that Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet from start to finish. In the meantime, sweetheart, it’s on TheWork.com. And we have certified facilitators on that website that those of you having a little trouble with this at first, you can contact one of them and they’re amazing. Also, we have a free help line where you can fill in a Worksheet from the website and you can call the help line. They don’t ask who you are, where you’re from. We just completely leave that to you. And we work a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet through for you. So, sweetheart, you’re very brave. You’re very brave. But as parents, you know, when it comes to our children, we’re capable of anything. And one of those things is to get help. And thank you for looking to TheWork.com. Thank you for looking to The Work and this series. Thank you very much. Thank you. Oh, you’re so welcome.