Rubbernecking

November 8, 2009
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Seen on Sumana’s blog: a post on Reddit about huge family secrets and a post on Making Light "celebrating" Dysfunctional Families Day. Be warned: if you start reading these threads, especially the thread on Making Light, you’re basically kissing 8 hours goodbye, and committing yourself to having a shitty day. That said, there’s an incredible ratio of signal-to-noise here, particularly incredibly wise comments on the nature of life, family, etc.

One thing to remember, though, is that hate is still a kind of involvement.

Huh, how interesting. This is something I’ve known intellectually for a long time, but when I read your comment, it suddenly clicked for me in a way it never has before:

Hating my mother in a strange way kind of fills the void where my love for her (and hers for me) should have been. This goes some way in explaining why I have been so completely unable to let go of it. It’s not just that I’m a judgmental, passive-aggressive, little victim.

And:

Forgiveness is the act of ceasing to expect repayment of something that is owed.

You have given me something to think about for a long time. Normally I hate it when people talk about forgiveness, because it always seems to mean "letting that person continue to behave badly." But that’s a totally new perspective. Thank you.

And:

If it gives you pain, it counts. If you were afraid, it counts. Period.

And:

Teach children under your care basic social interactions. Teach them, teach them, teach them. Model everything and gently guide them. Telling a kid, "You need to get along with other people" is like telling a clumsy person, "You need to be more graceful." HOW? Children who grow up alternately ignored and terrorized need remedial work in this kind of thing!

No, children just plain need work on social skills. It’s really enlightening watching how some parents deliberately and carefully teach the details of social interaction, and others don’t.

And:

Some 15 years ago, I saw a magazine article that expressed our relationship perfectly: I was Not The Child They Had In Mind. I wish I could find it again, but I don’t even recall what the magazine was. But it was like having a light bulb go off in my mind; they had wanted a child, they just didn’t want ME. They wanted a child who would be just like them, share their interests and activities and worldview, consider the kind of life they had to be the pinnacle of happiness. They wanted me to voluntarily want what they wanted for me, so that there would never be any arguments about my friends or interests or activities — because of course, no friend or interest or activity they disapproved of could possibly be good for me. One of my friends once commented that she didn’t understand why they had bothered to adopt a child in the first place; they would have been much happier with a miniature poodle, especially if they got one that was crate-trained.

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