Monday, December 12, 2011

Control vs Care

I read this post today by blogger Dan Pearce ... amazing, moving post: I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.

It hit really close to home for me, not because of the 'gay' thing, the post wasn't about being gay, and it wasn't about being Christian, it was about being human, and good, and kind, despite our differences. I loved it. And it really made me think of when my son and I were going through family counseling, and when I finally understood something our counselor kept saying: it doesn't matter what happened, it doesn't matter who was right or wrong, what matters is that we acknowledge and value the feelings the other person has surrounding the issue at hand, and let the rest go. It was one of those light bulb on moments. Seriously ah-freaking-ha. And wow, it's amazing the difference it has made not only in my relationship with my son, but in his choices - he no longer has a need to rebel because he's being heard, and he's being respected. He actually seeks out my counsel now, and he listens ... because I am listening and valuing him. It's pretty cool stuff.

It took a while for me to learn because I didn't grow up that way. Negative reinforcement was the name of the game in my upbringing. Everyone made everyone's issues everyone's business, and everyone had an opinion that everyone needed to hear. Boundaries are not to be respected in my family.

Generally, everyone picks on one person at a time. The 'pickee' changes, depending on which person in the family is currently having a rough time or handling something in a way that is not family-approved, whether they know anything about the issue(s) at hand or not. Since the last 'pickee' has gotten the majority of her shit straightened out, and since I've been having a bit of a rough time the past few years, I have become the new 'pickee'.

You see, I have problems. My son has problems. My boyfriend isn't perfect, so he has problems. In the grand scheme of things, I think our problems are no better than anyone else's, and they could be a lot worse. I am thankful for my blessings, that's for sure. I have learned through experience that my family sucks at solving problems, so I don't go to them for that kind of help. Where I get tripped up is when I occasionaly reach out to them for moral support. I don't know why I do this anymore, as I nearly always end up feeling like I'm the shit they just stepped in. It must be some left over, intrisic belief that they will actually be supportive rather than judgmental, that they will actually extend a hand to give me a hug rather than tell me how wrong, messed up, or my personal favorites, that I haven't 'dealt with my stuff' and 'need to be willing to do the work' - though no one seems to be able to offer me an example of what their version of these things looks like, nor give credit for any 'work' I've already done, because apparently I'll know I'm doing the work when I do it and they approve of it. Yes, very helpful, not. And it's always fun when they jump into an issue (read: all issues) to which they haven't been invited and about which they know nothing, because, well, because apparently blood relatives have an open invitation to comment on and sit in judgment upon any and all issues related to and/or concerning another blood relative. This open invitation comes in the form of 'caring' about that person.

I beg to differ.

I just wish they 'cared' enough to put away their pre-conceived ideas and actually listen to what I have to say, to what I'm feeling, and to respect that I'm a grown-up capable of making my own choices and handling my own shit. Naming all my faults and being pissed I'm not handling it their way doesn't contribute to the solution I haven't asked for. You see, I don't need their help, but it would be nice to have their compassion. I don't require them to agree with me, I don't require them to come up with a solution, I just wish they could put aside their conditions, and really just care.

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