By: M. Lisa Shasteen, Contributor to CEO Effectiveness
Sometimes it was just her calm voice telling me everything would be ok, but I craved my grandmother’s presence. Somehow, she always understood what I was going through and exactly the right thing to say in the moment. I wondered how a person could become so deeply supportive and so incisive. Dr. Anton’s article made me remember those very special times.
I believe what Dr. Anton said is true. My grandmother had changed since the time she was a parent. She had six children. I’m sure her life was ridiculously busy. Her husband died when her youngest child was two, and she had to work, make clothes for everyone, and somehow put nutritious food on the table. I remember that she worked in a bakery and was one of those people who could look at you and sew an outfit that fit you perfectly without measuring a thing. I used to love to go in the bakery and smell the fresh bread and cakes. That smell still reminds me of her – every time.
After many years and thousands of experiences with her own children, I’m sure it was easier for my grandmother to view my parent-child relationship with her daughter as an observer. She probably saw traits she had encouraged in my mother – her own values and mental framework. Perhaps she saw traits in me that she liked or disliked and which fit or did not fit her mental framework. One thing was certain. She understood my mental framework quite well. At the end of the day, it was probably like looking at a story play out but with the perspective of knowing how everything turns out in the end.
Like so many others, I was certainly not immune to experiencing the “lingering feelings of powerlessness and unworthiness” Dr. Anton describes. The blessing for me is that my grandmother had been there too. She knew exactly what I was feeling. That is why she was able to encourage me on such a deep level. Somehow, even though she didn’t articulate it, I knew that she knew. That is why I believed her when she said everything would be alright. There was a level of trust between us, forged in her self-knowledge, and delivered to me in a way that I could understand.