Jerry, a long time Youth Worker at our Rights of Passage program, shares an experience with a youth where the relationship became damaged. Relationship building is at the core of what we do at Covenant House Vancouver and it is not always easy. The youth we work with have often lost trust in many relationships, especially with the adults in their life. A misstep can mean needing to start at the beginning again and our team works hard to build and maintain trust.
“I was resigned to the fact that I would never mend our ruined relationship. Because of an incident that resulted in a confrontation, whatever good rapport that started in his early weeks at ROP came crumbling down like a sand castle on the shores of a turbulent ocean. I was bullheaded, as was he, and there was no compromise between the two of us. I held my ground as did he, both of us firm and unwilling to bend.
Jim came into the Rights of Passage program over two and a half years ago. Intelligent and personable, he has a knack for leading round-table discussions with his peers. From philosophy to metaphysics, health matters to politics, Jim can discuss any topic. One could sit for hours and be amazed by his arguments and justifications.
He initiated the first move to build a relationship with me as soon as he moved into ROP. It was smooth sailing for the first few weeks until our differing opinions clashed like angry cymbals in an orchestra. I hoped and prayed that one day he would relent, and we could move forward from our disagreement. But the days, weeks and even months have come and gone and the rift between us has deepened. My numerous attempts to repair the relationship have been brushed away or met with sarcastic comments.
One Sunday morning, Jim was quietly preparing his breakfast. He was cooking garlic rice. The garlicky smell wafted into my office, and I blurted out loud that his cooking smelled delicious. As usual, he ignored me and didn’t say a word. When he was done cooking though, I was taken back when, out of the blue, he asked if I wanted to try his garlic rice. Without hesitation, I said “yes” and he plated the garlic rice and handed it to me.
We ate across from each other. I complimented him on his cooking and he enthusiastically told be about the proportions and his methods as to not burn the garlic. We then proceed to share who cooks what in the family and our favourite dishes.
On that very day, I felt as if, a heavy load was lifted off my shoulders. The discord and bitterness between us dissipated into thin air and was taken over by the sweet aroma of garlic. What made it extra meaningful was his gesture of having me share in his food – food he had careful prepared. I felt that moment had special significance. From that moment on, Jim and I have regained our relationship and have not let our emotions get the better of us.”