Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Identifying the Source to Enable Ownership of the Outcome
I think part of the reason I have such a deep seated anger towards my relatives, my parents, my brothers, and even to a lesser degree my aunts and uncles, is that not one of them has ever really supported me in anything that was important to me. They might give superficial acknowledgment if I did something they approved of, but that was the best I could hope for. Even then, there would always be little barbs thrown in to ensure that I understood I was never going to measure up to whatever the Hell it was they expected of me.
Its just rather infuriating that they tell you all your life that you can never expect much out of life because you are a girl and you should just learn to sit quietly, find a man with lots of money to marry, and then take what ever the hell kind of treatment he wants to give you in order to make sure he never leaves you. And then they treat you like there is something wrong with YOU when you aren't interested in doing that. I mean for goodness sakes this is the 21st century, and they are all mad at me for not conforming to their dark ages mentality. I do feel very fortunate that I did not grow up in a culture where “honor killings” are tolerated or I fear I would not have made it this far. I am exaggerating for effect, but sometimes I really do feel that way.
Most people find it hard to believe but I was twenty years old before I learned that people can disagree on things, and even argue about them and still Love each other. I had no experience with such a concept before. I have never seen my parents disagree about anything, EVER. If mom didn't agree with dad she never ever said a word about it. And disagreements between my dad and my brothers usually ended either with someone leaving home, or at the very least, me cowering in a corner trying to process a conflict which I had no frame of reference for.
I suppose this is why I have such an aversion to conflict to this day. It just isn't normal to my experience. I realize now that this was not a healthy way to grow up, but the lack of conflict is something a lot of people might think of as a great thing. I know people who grew up in homes filled with conflict, and they have their own scars and horror stories to tell. I guess that is the point, as usual, we all have our own family dysfunctions and we all have to learn to cope with them the best we can. I certainly wouldn't trade my passive-aggressively controlling family for one that physically expressed its disapproval, I don't think I would have done well with that at all. I know how lucky I am that my family dysfunctions were not worse, but that does not make them okay.
To this day, every time I have a disagreement with my husband my first instantaneous thought is always that the marriage is over, and I am going to have to find a new life. My rational mind knows this is ridiculous, we will eventually stop arguing and our life will go on pretty much as it did before. But my emotional mind tells me that any conflict equals failure. If there is a conflict in the marriage, no matter how small, that means I have failed. My husband had a different childhood, where conflict ran rampant, he cannot comprehend why I react the way I do. Being the wonderful husband that he is he does his very best not to argue with me unless absolutely necessary, and even then, he will always apologize to me afterward, even when he was totally right! That is something else my family has never done, apologize for hurting each other. In my entire life I have received one apology from my father, and that is one more than my mother ever got from him. And I didn't even actually get it from him, he made her call and apologize for him!
I don't blame my parents for the issues I have today. I am not trying to make them out to be bad or evil people, because the really aren't. They may be misguided, but they never meant any harm, to me or anyone else. But even the best of parents can fuck-up their kids. No matter how hard we try, or how much effort we put forth, people are only human, and we will always fuck shit up. There is no way around it. Acknowledging how your parents failings affected your life is not an attempt to blame them for your failings, but an avenue to explore in the adventure of building your own future. When I can acknowledge and understand where my issues stem from, it makes learning to deal with them positively a little more possible. By denying their role in messing up my head, I was denying myself the ability to repair the damage. I realized that by holding them accountable for their influences in my childhood it allowed me to take responsibility for my reactions to those influences. And by taking responsibility I enabled myself to take action, to change the things that need changing and to better adapt to those things which cannot be changed.