26 June 2010

some food for thoughts

I started writing this entry about family dynamics from a mostly sociological perspective with lots of technical terms and vague generalities. Then I started to get frustrated, because I couldn't seem to get to the heart of the matter. So maybe I need to approach things differently.

My father's mother was a bit of a matriarch, and not necessarily a good one or even an effective one. I think she wanted to be, and perhaps in her own mind she was. She and my grandfather had four children, of which my dad is the baby. Two boys and two girls. They were all fairly close in age, and grew up together.

As a child, I spent a fair amount of time with those grandparents. I preferred being around my grandfather, but spent most of the time around my grandmother. She was a jealous woman and didn't want any one to spend much time with my grandfather, especially if she was not right in the same room, or even involved in the interaction in some way.

She was always a bit moody, and angry, and suspicious. She always had cutting things to say about other people and would take great satisfaction in stirring up trouble amongst her children and even their children. I think she was a very bitter woman. And liked to share her misery, spreading it thickly where it would stick and redoubling her efforts when it didn't seem to take as well as she'd want.

I was thinking about her earlier, because I was thinking about how having her as a mother must have affected her children's views and relationships. I was thinking that it didn't stop there, and in some cases, it's clear that even her grandchildren are stuck in muck. I wonder what her own parents were like, what her childhood was like, how she formed her ideas of what was okey and acceptable, let alone good and desirable.

That led me to think about cycles, and how to break them. And how some families seemed locked in destructive patterns. I got to thinking about how we are all influenced to a certain extent by what we know, what we've been around.

Children raised together have very different views and experience the same situations differently. Some folks who've been abused, grow up to be abusers. Others vow never to hurt anyone and take that mandate to extremes, hurting themselves to try to please everyone else.

We are not creatures without will. We can overcome huge obstacles, folks do it all the time. We also get to a certain point where we begin to realize that we are responsible for our own selves, our own actions {by omission and commission}, and our own ideas. We are never completely free of influence, but neither do we need to only be influenced and not think for ourselves.

A few weeks back, before My Jerry was hurt; one of my support groups was going to address siblings and how we relate to them, what sort of impact they've had on us, and how those things may affect us even now, into our adulthoods.

I got to thinking about how I've changed over the years, the ideas that I've had, and how I relate to folks. Mostly, I think I've shifted my reactions toward folks. I've seen plenty of examples in just this last year, around me {not even necessarily involving me, but folks that I care about, and so being aware of the situations in that way}, of people not being the same person they were five years ago, ten years ago, or even a week ago.

What stands out to me most is that many folks feel they don't get credit for growing up, for maturing, for shifting their ideas and actions accordingly. I hear folks pleading with others to take the time to get to know them now, and not hold the past personhood against them for life. Yes, it's hard to let your guard down at times, to not feel that you must be on your toes, that you must not let yourself be taken advantage of again; sometimes, finding that happy~medium, that middle ground between bearing a grudge for life and being a doormat can be hard.

I think a good place to start is to own up to the past, to take responsibility for it, but to not dwell there, and move on. It's not as simple as I've said, but neither must it be as difficult as we can sometimes perceive it to be. Sometimes we hang onto old hurts because they make us feel safer and more justified.

What was the point of this post, the heart of the matter? Well, I'm not sure. I think that mostly I just wanted to acknowledge that some folks only feel safe if they are attacking others and some folks can get beyond that and feel safe and confident in who they are and continue to grow and mature.

I'm glad that I have few of the former folks in my life and more of the latter.

1 comment:

  1. And yet there are people who are proud that they've never changed -- as if stubbornly clinging to a bad habit is something we should commend.


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