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Thankful for Uncomfortable Conversations

"A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” ―Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Workweek

Happy Sunday everyone,


Hopefully its obvious by now that living with Teri provided no shortage of uncomfortable and/or difficult conversations on a daily basis. Marriage for us really was about growth and sanctification. What a blessing it really was to be her husband. I do miss the difficult conversations....most of the time. Sometimes I would come home and was so exhausted from work and didn't have the energy to discuss anything of significance. I was relieved when she had a favorite TV show to watch and wanted to watch that instead of sit down and talk. After a long morning workout and a non-stop day of meetings, the last thing I really wanted to do was talk about difficult things.


My last recorded video of Teri before she passed away was in late March. Here is Teri trying to relax on the weekend while I was trying to get a reaction out of her regarding getting a "promotion at church."

At least Mayo is enjoying himself.

On most days, I enjoyed the conversations we had. Teri was so intentional about everything we discussed. The video reminds me about one the time we came home from church and she asked about what I learned from the message. Thankfully I heard the message three times because I was serving on the production team doing lyrics for all services. Unfortunately, I didn't really have a good answer to her questions since I wasn't paying attention during service, I was multi-tasking. She asked if I took any notes and I said no. There were lyrics and announcements I needed to fix for the next service during the sermon and I used that as an excuse. Being the loving wife she was, she gave me a really hard time about it and insisted that if I want to serve again, we should go to the Saturday Service. It was a humble reminder about not hiding behind ministry and being busy. Attending service and serving at church are two different things.


Teri made my day job seem easy at times. I didn't need to have too many difficult conversations at work as much as I would have at home. I felt like marriage helped me be a better manager and leader, as most the success of my work comes down to my willingness to have the difficult conversations with my colleagues when needed, such as when a project or team member is not meeting expectations. There's no doubt that Teri would have made a great manager. I wish she had the opportunity.


Most of the difficult conversations Teri and I would have were actually about my overcommitment to work. The one that stands out the most was when she would asked that if she was not here anymore, would I regret working so much? Reflecting on this truth is always a good reminder about how life is short and to make the most of our time with the people and things that matter. Surprisingly, I don't feel like I worked as much as I could have during our marriage and even right now, being single. I shared this with truth with a friend recently regarding my work and she was surprised. She thought I worked a lot. While I usually average more than 40 hours a week, I know for a fact that I don't put in the 60-80 hour work weeks I used to before I met Teri. I have a much better work life balance and I am so thankful. So in summary, I don't really have that many regrets in this area while I was with Teri. I'm also thankful that my job was able to provide for our physical needs.


What difficult/uncomfortable conversations have I had lately?

There have been some that I have been reflecting about over the past few days. What has been most humbling was receiving feedback from a respected colleague regarding how I may need to work on my self-awareness. I thought this person was crazy. Do they realize that I journal and have this blog?? I also love talking with my close friends about how so many people aren't self aware and how much better life would be for them if they could just realize this truth. Me not self aware? There's no way.


As some of you (probably my closest friends and family) may be rolling your eyes reading this, I started thinking about "outcomes" and if I'm getting the desired outcomes that are most important to me and the work I do. If I was really self-aware regarding my health, I would have figured out a sustainable way to eat healthy and not have my weight graph look like my emotional roller coaster i've experienced over the past nine months:


Erwin's weight graph from withings.com. Hope you all use a smart scale. Note that the beginning of this graph was in Jan 2017. I met Teri in March 2017.


I then thought more about how earlier in December, I started the 75 Hard Challenge and made it through day 30. I "failed" during the New Year because I was curious about some alcohol my friends were having, so I tried some, requiring me to start all over. I've been on-and-off the challenge since then. Maybe I'll start again tomorrow. Another difficult conversation occurred a few weeks ago regarding some feedback about online dating from a close friend. She said that if her spouse passed away, she would not be able to work and function and would have just quit her job and take several months off. I get it, and sometimes think I should have done the same. It got me thinking about how unfortunate it is that most company policies only allow 3-5 days of bereavement. This was a humble reminder that there's probably so many people that have experienced tragic loss and due to their work or home circumstances, they didn't have a choice. They had to keep going with life. I also shared that during my PTO I had in between Christmas and New Year, the boredom resulted in another urge to give online dating a try, just like I did when I wrote about it last July. This same quote spoke to me again:


"If you have had a happy relationship and experienced love, in my view, it is a compliment to your partner if you want to experience that again. The love for your lost partner will be ever present, but our human hearts are capable of unlimited love and have room for future relationships." https://www.griefandsympathy.com

I reread that entire article and felt optimistic about the idea of online dating. My other close friends are getting to relationships and I feel left out. That same week, some other friends encouraged me that it's a great time of the year to go for it, knowing that many single people are wanting to "find the right one" because of the new year. I said that this wouldn't hurt and I can also turn it off if I don't feel good about it. So what happened? The same thing that happened in July. I first felt excited, but after a few days, I felt anxious and overwhelmed. It's a lot of work to create a profile, send lots of messages introducing myself, and then deal with all the rejections. Liked I did in July, I put in my profile about this blog since it just seems like its the right thing to do for people to know that I'm widowed and I write about Teri and what I keep learning about grief every week. I would catch myself waking up really early to check the app and fall asleep using the app. It just didn't feel healthy and didn't make me feel happy. So I deleted everything again and immediately felt quite relieved and much more productive. Maybe I will try again in a few months. If I met someone as awesome as Teri through online dating, hopefully it can happen again. Maybe when i'm less busy. I know, one day at a time. What did my friend think? Her conclusion after reading this blog and hearing my story was "You're not ready." As harsh as her opinion was, I left the conversation feeling really loved and cared for and look forward to spending time with friends like her in the near future.

Another difficult conversation I had was hearing about a grief story of a colleague who recently lost his father. His loss prompted him to reach out to me to see how I was doing about my own grief. I reflected on my "self-awareness" and how I may think I am doing fine, there are many areas that have room for improvement, so maybe I am not. He wanted to see if I really spent the time grieving. I said, "I think so?" I then shared about my recent endeavor to start online dating. We concluded the discussion about how I need to move on and shared a story about a friend who ended up remarrying in ~1 year after he lost his spouse. It was a lot for me process in the moment, but I will say that I left the conversation feeling encouraged and understood. I knew this person really cared for me and just wanted to help.


Did Terwin have Chemistry?

TLDR: I am not sure.


I haven't had a "difficult" conversation about this topic, but talking about dating and what's important in a future spouse got me thinking about previous conversations I've had regarding what attracts people to each other. One friend said that she was dating someone for several years and was almost engaged. Her friends and family really liked the guy. She called off the relationship mainly due to a lack of chemistry. Everyone was really surprised. While I am happy that she's now married to someone else, I couldn't help but feel a bit saddened by her story.


What also discourages me is hearing about how important "chemistry" is to people and why a lot of first dates don't really turn into second dates is because of the lack of chemistry two people have with each other. I was reminded about this sort of funny video (to me, not Teri) I recorded of us a few weeks before our wedding:


Watching this video reminded me of a difficult conversation we had during our honeymoon while driving on the Road to Hana. We talked about her previous relationships and someone Teri was slightly interested right before she met me. Yes, we talked about previous relationships during our honeymoon. She shared how they really had chemistry and started liking him. She couldn't really explain why or how, she just felt this connection and they understood each other quite well. I don't really get it it. He never pursued her, but it seems like she would have been open to the idea.


Conclusion


I'm reminded of a sort-of uncomfortable conversation I had yesterday with a colleague who was rambling on and on during a meeting which required me to cut him off a few times. I know I do that here on this blog. Life is indeed short, so my encouragement to everyone is to think about any difficult conversation you've been putting off and don't wait until it's too late to have them. Maybe its with your spouse or colleague because something is bothering you. I am so thankful for the lessons I've learned from my loved ones, both in their presence and absence. The conversations I've had since Teri's passing, whether about work, health, or of chemistry in relationships, have all contributed to this journey of self-discovery and healing. I really am grateful for the time I had with Teri and for the growth that our marriage brought me and getting to share about some of the stories here. Thank you for reading and hope you all have a great rest of the weekend!


Erwin

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Both these videos had me cracking up, especially the last one!!!


Biblical confrontation and conflict resolution are never easy, but so necessary. I wish I were better at it. But that's why the church is so important to sanctification: it forces us into contact with others, but it's a safe(r) place because those others are also believers. So thankful for God's command to fellowship—otherwise, I would be very easily deceived about the kind of person I am and what areas of my character need work.

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Thanks for sharing Erwin. We have difficult conversation in our marriage, too, so I appreciate you sharing and being transparent. I love Teri’s face in the video of your possible promotion at church. Classic Teri. I loved how she wanted to know what you learned from the message. I love that Teri always pursued growth in you and others. I love that she didn’t want you to work too much and just wanted to spend more time with you. On a blunt note, I disagree with your colleague who said you need to work on your self awareness. You are awesome at self reflection. I also disagree with your female friend that said you are not ready to date. Wh…

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I had a friend one time who said that he welcomed conflict in his relationship with his wife because he would grow, and their relationship would grow as they worked through it. I have always held onto that as Phong and I have worked through our conflicts. Hard times are not the absence of a good relationship, it’s our willingness to be humble and work through them and how we come out on the other side that shows the strength of our relationship with others and ourselves. Glad Teri encouraged you to have the hard conversations, and it is good to see how you are having them with yourself and others right now. Also interesting how online dating hasn’t worked…

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