By A. Hosack, P. Berman, K. Hecht
You can do this. Know on the door! You been friends for years! Lisa will let you in!!
Mrs. Carson was outside of Lisa’s house. She’d walked down the street with a firm step. But as she got closer she began to remember the look on Lisa’s face when she’d met her at the party and her steps began to slow down. Here she was now standing so close but so far from the front door.
Mrs. Carson was feeling frozen between wanting to go up the walkway and….run away. No, she would not run from one of her oldest friends! She pushed herself to walk to the door, and after a brief pause from a brief anxiety attack, she knocked firmly on the door.
The door opened after a few minutes and there was Lisa looking stonily out at her. “Can I come in?” Mrs. Carson asked in a soft tone. “Why are you here,” Lisa responded angrily. “Lisa please let me in. Our conversation yesterday left me feeling very uncomfortable,” Mrs. Carson continued in a soft tone. “I’m not going to take back a single word. I meant everything that I said,” Lisa almost looked gleeful.
That look on her face. She seems to want me to feel hurt! I can do this, stay calm.
“Lisa,” Mrs. Carson said, “we’ve been friends for years. Aren’t you going to invite me in so we can sit in your living room and talk like we’ve done so many times before?” Lisa was surprised. She had expected to be slamming her front door and Mrs. Carson’s face. But looking at that very familiar face standing out on her porch she just automatically took few steps backward and opened her door wider. Mrs. Carson came in went over to the closet and hung her coat up. Lisa watched her thinking about how odd it was that she just intentionally been extremely rude and yet Mrs. Carson was quietly hanging her coat up.
What should I say firs?. Should I justify what I said yesterday.
Mrs. Carson was sitting in a chair in the very familiar living room. Lisa had sat down on the coach opposite her. She didn’t know what to say. She looked around wildly searching for an idea. She noticed that the picture of Lisa’s son and daughter-in-law had been taken down. There was just a blank spot on the wall where it had been. Something was wrong. “Lisa, I’ve always loved your living room. You’ve always had such a great artistic sense that I’ve often envied. I tried to make things match as beautifully as you do at my house, but it never quite works out,” Mrs. Carson said looking around.
“You didn’t come here to talk about my artistic sense,” Lisa said sarcastically.” (1-minute pause while Mrs. Carson takes a deep breath) No, I didn’t. But you have hurt my feelings by the way you’re talking to me and I was trying to remind myself of all the reasons I have valued you as a friend.”
Suddenly, Lisa felt very ashamed for the way she’d been talking to Mrs. Carson. She should apologize but there was so much anger in her heart she just couldn’t get the words out. The situation wasn’t easy for Mrs. Carson either, but she had kept her temper reined in despite Lisa’s constant provocation.
Having to learn how to deal with Claire’s meltdowns and Davy’s naughtiness had made her a more patient woman than she was when she raised her own children. “Lisa, I don’t know want to talk about first. What you said to me yesterday, or why that beautiful picture of Brian and his wife is no longer on your wall,” Mrs. Carson said softly. Lisa turned to look back at her wall of family pictures. After a moment of stony silence, she looked down at her lap and seemed to sag into the chair.
“We didn’t know about it until recently,” Lisa said bitterly “or we would’ve done something to help. That wife of his had been having an affair for years. When he found out two weeks ago, she wouldn’t even tell him if their four-year-old son was his or not. She packed up her clothes and their son and walked out the door. Our Brian tried to kill himself with his hand gun. A neighbor heard the shot and called the police. Brian has been in intensive care since then.”
What can I say? What could help? Nothing. There is nothing to say.
No words could express what Mrs. Carson was feeling. She came over to Lisa and sat right next to her on the couch and patted her hand, “I am so sorry Lisa. Your Brian is a wonderful man. I know that. I watched him grow up!” Mrs. Carson said earnestly. Lisa turned her face away and began to cry. “Lisa, you don’t have to turn away from me. I feel like I have a crack in my heart to hear about your family’s suffering.” Lisa turned back to Mrs. Carson and saw her genuine look of pain.
“What am I going to do? They say he will live despite…he put the gun in his mouth and shot himself! How can I help my Brian?”(2-minute silence where Mrs. Carson just hold’s Lisa’s hand. “I don’t know Lisa, but as soon as he leaves intensive care, why don’t we just visit him and treat him with love. That might be a start,” Mrs. Carson suggested.
“I would like that. (1-minute pause) My husband tells me he won’t go. Brian just needs to be a man. What does that even mean,” Lisa sobbed. “Lisa, you know he’s always had a hard time dealing with strong feelings. I’m sure he’s just as scared about losing Brian as you are. We will go first. When we get back maybe, you just tell him a little bit about what happened. He’ll come around, you know he always does.”
Mrs. Carson wanted to change Lisa’s opinion of foster children. That is why she had come to Lisa’s house. It isn’t easy to change someone’s opinion. Mrs. Carson had taken two steps, recommended by Megan Phelps-Roper. She had assumed there was some understandable reason for what Lisa had said to her. She had stayed calm through Lisa’s anger and had discovered that all the unpleasantness had occurred within a context of tragedy. This context screamed out to be talked through first.
To read steps to read all the steps to talking to someone about something you disagree with go to:
To listen to Ms. Phelps-Roper talk about how she stepped away from a childhood built on hate speech, to an adult commitment to work against it go to: