In recent weeks I have been watching as two very dear friends navigate the emotions that result from deceit, betrayal, and destruction of the deep trust they shared. It is painful to observe their drama play out and, most obviously, extremely painful for them to live it each day.
Everyone one of us has experienced betrayal of some kind, and the very word often evokes a physical response in our gut. Memories can flood back into our awareness and we sometimes find ourselves reliving moments we thought had been healed and forgotten long ago.
In most situations in my life, I ask myself the following question (and ask it several times throughout the day) – “What lesson can I learn from this?” So in contemplating my friends’ situation, I asked my question and what came to mind immediately was the importance of acknowledging “the elephant in the room.” I love this expression and the clarity with which it conveys the simple truth that important but unsaid or unacknowledged feelings inevitably undermine relationships, plans, and conversations intended to move our lives forward.
I concluded that there must have been at least one elephant in the “room” of my friends’ flailing relationship, something they were not discussing and that they hoped would spontaneously stomp away. So I am writing this piece to remind myself, and anyone reading it, that even when we are alone in a room, in our car, or out in nature, there is most definitely at least one elephant – or perhaps a herd of them – silently hoping to attract our attention.
I promise today to be more conscious of the elephants in my rooms, acknowledging them and then allowing them to roam freely somewhere else. Surely they have better things to do than serve as a reminder to face “head on” unresolved issues in my life and in my relationships. I may wish to ignore them, but eventually that becomes impossible. So I commit to ask myself a second question throughout my day, “What color is the elephant in this room?”
Will you join me in freeing elephants everywhere?
p.s. My favorite elephant is the beautifully colorful Elmer in David McKee’s delightful children’s book of the same name. Elmer reminds us of the importance of being the wonderfully unique individuals we are, different from all others, but happily ourselves.