Living on Purpose: Two sides to every ‘truth’
Vail CO, Colorado
“I’m confused. I’ve heard both sides of the story. They are very different, and I’m not sure what to believe,” my client said.
Amy and her husband, Andy, had selected open adoption seven years ago as they welcomed their daughter Cyndi into their lives.
The choice of an open adoption created a unique space where Amy and Andy met the birth mom, Bonnie, while she was pregnant. Amy and Andy were in the delivery room when Cyndi was born, immediately assuming parental responsibilities.
At the time, the birth father was in prison, serving time for two misdemeanors. The only story Amy and Andy learned about Brian was through Bonnie. According to Bonnie, any relationship with Brian would have put the baby in danger.
“Because the adoption was open,” Amy said, “we got to know Bonnie and understand Cyndi’s history. Bonnie had openly shared information, giving me a pretty clear picture of what had happened prior to Cyndi’s birth.”
“You mentioned hearing both sides of the story. Tell me what happened,” I said.
Amy explained, “We were recently contacted by the birth father, Brian. He got out of prison three years ago and wanted a fresh start. He received an Associate’s degree, has a good job and got married last year. Six months ago, he contacted the adoption agency in an attempt to meet his birth daughter.”
“It sounds like Brian’s story may have been different from Bonnie’s. Tell me about it,” I said.
“I thought Bonnie had given me a pretty good idea who Brian was. He had problems with substance abuse, anger management, was sometimes abusive and couldn’t keep a job. I had made up my mind that it might be a blessing to have him out of the picture,” she said.
“Brian was persistent in his pursuit of meeting us, while still respecting our wishes to protect our family,” Amy said. “He seemed different from what Bonnie had described or the person I had created in my mind. We were curious about Brian. Perhaps we owed Cyndi the other half of her history.”
“Upon meeting him, we were comfortable, even impressed with Brian. But now we have to decide if meeting him is best for Cyndi,” she said.
“Tell me how your picture of the truth changed after meeting Brian,” I said.
“Brian showed us pictures of his new wife and newborn son. The pieces Brian added didn’t fit into the story I had created through Bonnie’s viewpoint. I’ve always been a good judge of character and I just didn’t sense anything wrong with Brian, which surprised me because I thought I had a good idea of who he was. I thought I knew the truth, but now I am not sure.”
So I asked her, “Have you heard the story about the blindfolded people in a room with an elephant? Each person experiences a different part of the elephant. The person holding the trunk defines an elephant as thick, round and long, while another person touching the belly describes an elephant as large, rough and wrinkly, a bit like leather. Both are telling the truth about their experience and yet their stories are very different.”
Amy interrupted, “I think that’s what’s happening with Brian and Bonnie. My challenge is to keep gathering information. Maybe the truth changes depending on who’s looking at it, what information is available and how it’s interpreted. I need to look for the whole elephant. “
Amy’s homework assignment revolved around some powerful questions. “Where else in your life are you holding onto ‘truth’? What information can update your ‘truth’? Where are you looking at just the trunk and need to walk around the elephant to better understand the situation?”
As Amy left, I realized we both had taken on a very powerful homework assignment.
Coaching Challenge: What do you consider to be ‘truth’ in your life? Where are you holding onto a belief so tightly that you either ignore or disregard new information? This week look for at least one area in your life where the ‘truth’ may need updating. Areas where you become defensive or have strong feelings are a great place to begin. Be open to what you feel; explore your feelings and update your version of the ‘truth.’
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.
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