Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Don't Go Changing

Change is hard.

Whether the change is forced upon you or self inflicted, chosen, directed, whatevered, it's still hard.

Some people do well with change, thrive on it, seek it out, enjoy it. (I'm not one of those people, in case you were wondering.) But change is still hard. Difficult.

And change is hardest when you're trying to change how you walk through your life because the people around you also don't like change and while they may not know they're doing it, sometimes they make it very hard for you to change.

Once, when I was going through a particularly bad patch in my life, my brother told me he didn't care if I became a "Bible basher" as long as I was happy. I've always remembered him saying that and I love the sentiment. I'm just not sure how it would work out in real life. Family is like that. They like you just the way they've always known you, even if that way hasn't been great for you.

Small changes I've made around my family do not go un-noticed. My family is famous for backhanded comments so while I'm carefully taking the paper out of the garbage and putting it into the recycling bin, for example, it's not unusually for a few "tree hugger, tofu eater" type comments to be thrown my way. I'm not known for having the toughest skin, especially around my family so it makes things hard.

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to suddenly walk into my parents' house on Christmas day and announce that I'm getting a sex change operation and could they all call me Victor now please, I'm just saying that making changes in your life and in yourself is hard enough. Trying to maintain these changes becomes even more difficult with family. Especially if you're not quite sure what these "changes" would look like.

How is it with you? Would your parents and family support you no matter what? Do they already? Have you become someone your family didn't think you "really" were? Or do you just figure family is family?

I know I can't expect them to go changing, but I do think back to what my brother said. What would they all do if I walked in and had become a different version of myself? If I insisted we all spend an hour each evening discussing the Bible or my love of tofu and dreadlocks? Would they be happy as long as I was?

Something to wonder about, that's for sure.


Blogger Tod said...

Wow! This post hit a chord with me. It is hard to change when your own family THINK they know who you are already. And if like me you are the youngest it is an uphill struggle. But you have to be true to yourself and if that means changing something then you will be happier in the long term.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 9:51:00 am  
Blogger Laura said...

Oh, my, what a can of worms you have opened up. For me anyway! This is a regular topic of conversation between my sister and I, mainly about our mother. My sister and I have both been through a lot of changes in the last few years and have been really supportive of each other through that. I've chosen to date, move in with, and marry a man the rest of my family does not approve of (but won't say why?!). They don't support my attitude towards work. They judge me for my spiritual beliefs. My sister has come out as bisexual. She and I have been there for each other when the rest of our family wasn't. Our biggest problem is our mother, who has good intentions but a lot of her own issues to work through and she is probably the most judgmental and least supportive person I've ever met in my life. She just can't wrap her head around the fact that her children are all adults now and we get to make our own choices - we don't have to do as she tells us. She just can't STAND that we make different choices than she would have made and she has some major control issues.

She doesn't understand the meaning of being "supportive." To me, being supportive means supporting your friends/family regardless of what you think of their choices and lifestyle (within reason of course - I wouldn't support them if they killed someone for example, but that's extreme.) My mom will only be "supportive" if you make the choice she would have made in the same situation. To me that's not support, that's just a lucky coincidence that my choice happens to be the same as hers. I would call her supportive if she would support my sister despite not liking that she's bisexual. But she won't do that. She's done everything short of disown her.

My sister and I have both been through a gradual realization that we don't need her approval and that we probably won't get her support much of the time, because she withholds it to try to guilt-trip us into doing what she wants. So we're realizing that we need to just be confident enough in our own choices that we won't let our mother's words derail our course. We rely on each other instead, and we really are there for each other even if we think that the other is making a mistake. It's really hard to have a mother who's so judgmental and goes out of her way to make you feel terrible for doing what you think is the right thing, but it has made us stronger people. And you have to realize that if you have family members who act this way, even in a much more subtle way, their reaction is usually because of their own issues, not your actions. It's hard to detach yourself from it because these people are important to you and their opinion matters, but it's healthier not to take it personally.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 9:54:00 am  
Blogger Susie said...

So interesting. My parents SAY they would support me no matter what, and while I know that they would and they'll always love me and be here for me, I also know they wouldn't be able to hide their disappointment and judgement if they didn't like my decision. I'm also really sensitive and just want everyone to be happy, making things more difficult.

Love them to death, but uhhh family!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:09:00 am  
Blogger dilling said...

Not in my family...no hippies, no alternative anything, no left wing political views, no no no love....I don't know how my siblings and I turned out the way we turned out, but we're here. And we were hippies and alternative and lean way to the left and survived the long, lean years of parental disdain and ice. I guess we had each other, though.
Funny thing is, in his old age, my dad is lefter than left and loves us like nobody's business...not so much my mom, though.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 4:32:00 pm  
Blogger Jenn said...

It is the time of year to dredge all that family stuff up isn't it? Well I think there is parental love and then there is parental love and support (ie. understanding. I know my parents love me - but I know they don't support my choices - thus we try and not discuss them. Does that mean that I'm not my whole self when I'm with them? I don't think that it necessarily means that - but I know they don't want to hear about veganism, my left leaning views or whatnot. Then again maybe they do in their own way support me - they do eat my baking... But I am banned from bringing tofurky to grandma's...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 5:26:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Wow, y'all have a lot to say. I'm going to have a shower and then snuggle in and read your comments and thoughts. Cool.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 6:06:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

I am the youngest! : )
And yes, it does feel like an uphill struggle. I know I'll be happier in the long term, I'm just not sure what exactly I'm being true to. Does that make sense?
I'll keep at it though. ; )

Can of worms, eh? And here I thought I was just randomly babbling to myself! ; )
It's hard to understand why it feels like our parents can't/don't/won't support us unconditionally, doesn't it? Maybe they think they know better. Maybe they do, but the "better" is for them. I dunno. I'm really glad you've had your sister though. It sometimes makes me wonder why anyone would be a parent if it ends up being this hard of a thing to do. Maybe we'll only really understand our parents once we are parents???
I know what you mean about "support". It's hard. I know what you mean.... I do. *hugs*. Good for you and your sister. Good for you. It is hard to detach, but yeah, healthier to do so.

I hear ya! Love them to death, but.... sigh ; )
It's kind of like what Laura said in a way. There's support and then there's "support" with disappointment and judgement and stuff.
Plus, yeah, I'm a sensitive one too! : ) Not easy for us, eh?

Well *hugs*. Hugs. N. Hugs.

Family stuff sure does surface right around now. That's for sure. You gave me a giggle with being banned from bringing tofurkey! But, I also know what you mean. I know my parents love me, but it's hard to feel the parental love and support sometimes.
Shrug. Must be hard for them too. I'm guessing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 7:51:00 pm  
Blogger Cap. said...

hm - yeah.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 11:09:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...


Wednesday, December 19, 2007 6:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Tom H said...

For the record my only qualifications for what I'm about to say is that I have been making and sometimes learning from mistakes for nearly 50 years. Your milage will vary.

Presumably at 47 I'm the oldest one here. I'm also the father of three; ages 23, 24, and 25. I have observed that my children's friends find it easiest to support them, next comes brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. Parents have the hardest time supporting a child's decision (yes even the grown ones) when we don't understand or like them. Most of the time it's the decision we are having problems with not you. We just never learned how to express that properly.

For one thing raising children is a huge investment in time, money and emotional energy. There are some places where you can retire after 20 years. Children are a life long commitment. My 82 year old mother still worries about me and some of the decisions I make.

On top of that parenting is the only really important job that has no minimum requirement. NO parent is qualified when they start. After 3 children and 25 years experience I still don't feel qualified. I am NOT advocating some sort of government intervention. The government is even less qualified to raise children than I am! Every time one of the kids made a decision I couldn't understand or didn't like I went to bed asking myself what I had done wrong. Maybe that's why some parents freak out about purple hair or black lipstick. It's easy to see these unimportant things as failures on our part and then since we "broke you" we are the ones to blame when you ruin your life later on.

For you young ladies there is even more bad news. While both my boys are young men and maturing nicely; my 24 year old married daughter is still a little girl in my eyes. I bet your father still feels the same about you.

THICKER SKIN: I could use a couple extra layers myself. I guess all you can do is remember that no matter what you do you are going to upset or offend someone so as long as you can look the mirror in the eye you are on the right track. If you are having trouble looking the mirror in the eye you need to fix that right away.

CHANGE: Well it's inevitable. When it's forced on you all you can do is roll with the punches. When it's self inflicted make sure it's a change for the better; if it isn't why are you doing it?

Oh, yea don't give up on a friend or loved one even if they have a problem with a change, some of us take a little longer to adjust than others. Sometimes it takes me as much as a week. So just give them a little time, then look them up, give them a hug and let them know as far as your concerned your still friends.

VICTORIA: Is it about being a different version of yourself or about showing them who you really are?

LAURA: It sounds like you got the fuzzy side of the lollypop. Hang on to your sister and remember that your mother needs help you can't give her.

JENN: I have no idea what tofurkey is; but it sounds like tofu turkey. Twenty years ago tofu was really nasty tasting; maybe it's improved. As long as it is clearly labeled and you don't mind that no one eats any, you can bring it to my next party. ;-) Who knows maybe I'll even take a taste.

Thursday, December 20, 2007 10:50:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

Hey Tom, thanks for the excellent comment : )
I feel like giving you a big hug, but instead I'll just give you my heartfelt thanks. I really appreciate your insight and I feel comforted by it. So thanks for putting your thoughts in.
Most excellent, thanks!

Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:20:00 pm  
Blogger Yvonne said...

boy V, I totally hear you on this one!
At the age of 23 I decided to go completely veg. My family reacted like the only reason I did it was to make their lives difficult. (ie, having to come up with something for me to eat during family get-togethers and such.) And comments about how I was "such a problem" because of my food choices. Like it had anything to do with them! (And I was happy to bring my own entree to avoid extra work for others!)

That said, they are wonderful people and everyone who meets them adores them. They've just always viewed me as "trouble" and skew my lifestyle to fit that image. You'd think they would be happy that I'm not a serial killer and no one has ever had to come and get me out of jail! lol
arrrgh. Apparently I'm still bitter about it. lol

I'm so glad I'm not alone. ;)

Friday, December 21, 2007 10:42:00 am  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Did I read that right? You have family members who put newspaper in the garbage?!!

Friday, December 21, 2007 2:36:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Paper. Sometimes. : (
Newspaper always gets recycled as far as I can tell : )

Saturday, December 22, 2007 12:17:00 am  
Blogger That girl said...

What a great post! totally something that most of us struggle with.

Kudos to you for bringing it up.

Sunday, December 30, 2007 12:02:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Well thanks TG : )

Sunday, December 30, 2007 2:22:00 pm  

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