What Do You Want? Are You Clear?

WantI recently got a chance to go back to visit Mary in Florida a second time but this time with my son. It was a very strange visit.

I had originally told her we were coming a month or two ahead of time. When I called to confirm some of the plans a couple of weeks before our actual arrival she told me she had “accidentally” scheduled a trip to visit her son in Colorado during part of our visit. I was a bit taken aback and after the phone call and checking in with myself, I realized I was a bit hurt. As a result I ended up changing one of our nights which was a bit of an inconvenience.

She had felt bad about the scheduling problem and promised she would be available any day I chose after she got back so we could spend some time on her sailboat. So we set it up for an overnight on Wednesday. Alex and I got there around 2pm and we all had a great time getting a late lunch and then exploring the boat. She and Alex got along great. He was having a blast swabbing the deck and then polishing the teak inside. I was smiling ear to ear seeing him so happy. All was good.

And then…On the drive to the boat earlier that day she told me over the phone a friend of hers from childhood might be joining us. She doubted he would but it was possible. She said he was going through a rough time with a pending divorce and then his girlfriend breaking up with him. I thought it odd that she would invite someone on the only day Alex and I had to spend with her. I had no plans to come back so this was our only time. The man ended up showing up after dinner and just as Alex needed to go to bed. It was weird and I felt like once he got there, we weren’t very welcome. But here we were on the boat at bedtime. It was an awkward night of who was going to sleep where. I was tired and didn’t feel much like talking so I went to sleep with Alex.

The next morning things seemed a little off. And then Alex got up and started getting in Mary’s face, touching her, bugging her and being an 8 year old nudge. I asked him to stop. He did for a bit and then she kept saying it was ok, it wasn’t a problem. And then Alex just kept it up. She kept saying it was ok. And then she snapped when he closed the porthole in the front of the boat. In the meantime her dog wasn’t feeling well and she wanted to leave. So our day on the boat came to end and we all gathered our things and left before 10am. A very strange visit indeed and a very disappointing one for Alex (and me). Not exactly how I planned to spend our last day of vacation. But of course Alex and I made the most of it and ended up exploring the area and having a ball playing in the big waves of the ocean.

What I realized after looking back was she was not saying what she wanted, she was sending mixed signals. She was trying to appease us by not saying Alex should stop. She just let it fester and then she snapped at him. Yes, I could have done a better job of making him stop but I too was getting mixed signals as to her tolerance level. I’ve seen her do this before with others. She says ok or extends an invitation to others and then gets annoyed by them accepting her ok or invitation behind their back. It was just such an obvious thing to me that when you send mixed signals, you don’t get what you want.

I am trying to be more and more clear with what I want these days and it’s amazing what is showing up! Despite this awkward couple of days, Alex and I had an amazing vacation of reconnecting and I got further lessons and much clearer in what I want in my friendships.

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