When acceptance doesn’t come easily…

There is a risk, when being online and not completely anonymous, that someone might read something you wrote that they’re not going to like. That is, something that may be even hurtful for them. I hesitated a lot about this prompt and then cleared it with my husband. If someone else who is related to what I am about to say will find this, it may be a blessing in disguise: it’s something that needs saying, but I don’t feel I could say to their face for reasons related to the issue in the first instance.

One of the hardest things about getting married was gaining a whole new family. I am not on the best terms with my own, and I don’t really have a good example of how to relate with in-laws from my parents. One of them was at open war with hers, the other never really spoke to his. Still, I can sympathise with why my mother had never had a good relationship with my grandparents: she never felt accepted for who she was. And neither do I. 

While my husband is the eldest, he met me when his brother had been in a serious relationship for years. They lived together already, and were used to visiting both sets of parents frequently. But the distance was not the only way in which things were stacked against me. Perhaps it’s subconscious, but I know my personality is very different from my sister-in-law and that she is much closer to the personality of everybody else, while my husband is a black sheep who has found his match. Bonding always comes easier when you’re with someone who seems to get you as naturally as you understand yourself, and so I have many friendships that are pretty much like the infamous love at first sight, when you feel like you’ve known someone your whole life and you just fit like a made-to-measure glove. I can’t blame someone for not finding it easy to bond with me, I’m so aloof my only competition in this regard is Lady Mary Crawley. 

Still, it is painful because I don’t really know how to strike the right balance between trying to be the person they want me to be, and trying to be accepted for who I am. My love language absolutely not gifts. I’m particular about the things I own, I own way too much for the living space I am and prefer experiences to things. While my collection of books and clothes may give a different impression, if I was given the choice to have infinite credit in every restaurant and bar in the world as long as I give up buying things, or vice-versa, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to pick the first option. As long as I can get gifts to replace any shoes beyond repair I should be fine. I still get sent gifts every year, most of which get sent straight to charity even though I know how bad it is with charity shops getting too many donations than what they can sell. 

Maybe it’s terribly self-centred that I cannot feel the love people are trying to show me because I feel like they can’t possibly love me if they can’t accept that I don’t want new things, that I have a set of morals that makes it just easier for me to buy very little and be discerning with what I buy. I feel like they are projecting an idea of who I should be and loving that. It’s probably the most human desire in the world to be accepted, so I hope you don’t think I am a whiny little bee for coming out with this response to today’s prompt. I guess I am looking for sympathy, to an extent, but I am mostly looking for advice. For someone to say “I’ve been there, and this is how I fixed the problem”. I want to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and a happy ending.

This was just an example of things that make me feel the way I do. and not the only one, so it’s really not the storm in a teacup that it sounds, but it’s a blog post and not an encyclopedia, and there is such a thing as oversharing. I went with one of a number of things that cumulated into what seems like a mountain, based on the one thing I am finding the hardest to adapt to. There still a while before presents-season will be upon us, and I’ll be watching Hallmark Channel films wondering why I’m still the Scrooge of the plot and no amount of televised confected Christmas cheer is making me any better disposed to embracing the spirit of the season according to my non-religious family by law. Or, maybe, a Christmas miracle will come into my life after all. 

Today’s blog post has been part of the Love Blog Challenge 2020 on the subject “Acceptance”. Find the rest of the series here

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3 Comments

  1. I love your honesty here. I understand how hard it can be to write about family.

    I have definitely struggled with acceptance with my in-laws. Yes, they welcomed me into the family with open arms from the very early stages of my relationship, but it’s taken them time to accept me for who I am. I married into a STEM family, and while I’m actually quite good at STEM subjects, they’re neither my passion nor my area of expertise. In some ways I’ve been the one to accept that I’m different, and that they’re not going to change. For example, I always have a book with me when we’re visiting in case they decide to have an in-depth conversation about engineering (which can literally last for hours). If it’s not rude to have a conversation that excludes me, it’s not rude for me to read.

    They’ve learned to accept that Dan and I aren’t going to do things just like they did. We left Ohio. I don’t have a high-paying job. We spend our money differently.

    I’ve been fortunate that except for a few major exceptions (one being my FIL’s pushiness about grandkids, even after my 1st nephew was born), my in-laws have accepted the big things. Our small wedding in San Antonio, my last name, our move to Georgia. I’ve learned to pick my battles on the small and medium things. (Yes, one of those battles is doing my laundry. No one touches my clothes without a serious reprimand).

    1. Uh, a STEM family sounds quite intense! I guess you are right, I need to pick my battles and not let everything get to me with the same intensity. Perhaps it’ll get better over time. I’m cut out of most conversations even if they aren’t about engineering, so you have my full sympathy.

  2. I’m sure it took a lot of courage to share this post. I commend that greatly. And I’m glad you shared it because I can relate. Maybe not to the total extent but definitely in terms of love languages and in learning to relate. My fiance and I had very, very different upbringings and still, we both have different relationships with our parents. Culturally there is quite a difference that gave very large impressions to the relationships. His parents are Vietnamese and there are some differences in values between Asian families and other cultures. This has been and continues to be a lesson for me. Not only that but the way our parents nurture is also extremely different. His parents are very nurturing and hands-on whereas my parents are not. They raised, encouraged and even pushed me to be extremely independent. Among other very big differences between our upbringings (which I’d rather not mention because I”ve been working very hard on healing and moving forward from them), they also see money and gifts from a completely different perspective. The biggest difference in gift-giving I saw was over the holidays. They don’t really celebrate holidays and birthdays like we do. We built a middle ground though. Compromise and exploring understanding has been our saving. Then there’s a whole separate topic of this topic relating to the relationship with my parents. My mom loved to give me gifts such as figurines and other little knick-knacks. This was her way of telling me she was thinking of me. But when I began a more simplistic lifestyle, I wanted to declutter and these knick-knacks kept stacking up. She was offended when I asked her not to buy them all the time for me. A nice text or call to let me know she was thinking of me would mean the world. We’re several years in but even that came to a compromise. Fuzzy socks are usually a win because it’s something I can use ; ) Sorry I wrote so much, I guess this post really struck a chord. Combining families or even managing it within your own can be challenging when it comes to sharing, expecting and receiving respect and love. I do not think that any of your thoughts or feelings are self-centered, rather I think them as natural to have. I’ve had them and they aren’t wrong to have. They do need to be worked through though and that takes some time and growth from everyone.

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