Aging parents and a visit. Hope. Forgiveness. A Glimpse of Love. A re-awakening of childhood memories. A greater understanding of defenses and the regrets that go with the ones I have yet to overcome. Mysteries solved after 50 years of unanswered questions. Does it make it any easier? Maybe. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to have the empathy and compassion I have if I hadn’t suffered deeply myself. But maybe it was more important to grow up without privilege. Maybe it was more important to learn gratitude. Maybe anyone can arrive at self respect eventually. Emotional wellness and maturity though require self-awareness, so we do not repeat dysfunctional patterns. Understanding how we can hurt others is paramount. Whether the trigger is dismissal, disrespect, disinterest, or disguise (false representation), we have to know that usually it is not personal, or deliberate. And even if it is, the collateral damage of hitting the switch will do serious harm to ourselves as well as others. We can feel the warning but the impulse is strong. It is the disconnect that caused the problem, that led to the trigger, that then repeats itself. We only break the cycle by moving past the switch. Even if I am angry, I can swallow the words until I find the right ones. Even if I am hurt, I can understand that someone probably never intended to hurt me, and even if I feel rejected, I know it is my responsibility to find relationships that meet my needs for support, acceptance and love. Only by not hitting the disconnect switch, can I nurture my own soul. It may have taken me a long time to get here, but I am here now.