Follow the Effort
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
A few years back, I heard someone complain to her personal coach that her relationship with her brother was over because he didn’t show any indication of caring about her as a person. Her coach asked if there was anything at all he’d done for her, even if she didn’t like it. He had. He’d bought tickets for the two of them to attend a sporting event together at an upcoming family celebration. Buying tickets turned out to be the one thing that saved their relationship.
As her coach said, “Follow the effort.” Her brother hadn’t seemed supportive during some trying times and yet, he did do one small thing meant to give her emotional support. It was so small amidst their sea of problems that she’d nearly missed it until her coach suggested she “follow the effort.” He didn’t know how to show emotional support but one tiny effort on his part showed he still cared.
I thought it was an interesting lesson, and one I’ve used in determining which relationships were worth sticking with. If only one person is making an effort, then there is no relationship.
It reminds me of a rule a colleague stated to me years ago when he and his wife were having trouble with both of them making an effort. He was at his wit’s end and tired of seeing a counselor alone. He told me that the person who puts the least amount of effort into a relationship is the one who drives the relationship.
I would love to prove him wrong, but in all these years, I never have been able to. No matter how much one of the two gives, if the other gives back nothing, then the entire tone of the relationship is one of imbalance. For most couples anyway, that is how it works and the emotional support is often only in one direction.
I think it would be nice if neither could tell who gave more, rather than having to search for the effort.
And yet…in the past month….
Someone asked me if I’d heard from a friend of mine since Daddy died. I did last Friday, but not before then. The someone asking the question was angry that I hadn’t heard a word and couldn’t understand why I hadn’t at this time if no other. She expected it, even if I really hadn’t and had been too preoccupied to notice.
But what I’ve felt has been surprising and uplifting, and I’m grateful for it even if I can’t explain it.
I have felt friends coming to support me “energetically” if not in person or with notes of condolences or murmured words. I have felt the “beamed light” (her words) from my friend in D. C., even though we had lost touch by email for a while and she didn’t know about Daddy. I have felt the prayers and sympathetic hopes of friends faraway during my transition to being fatherless. I have felt the energy of readers reaching out to me, even though they have been silent in recognizable ways.
It’s an odd thing because the effort isn’t necessarily seen, but it is most definitely felt, and there are times when it really lifts me up and carries me. It’s why I believe there is such a thing as distance healing.