Last night I had an Epiphany!

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Definition Epiphany:  a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

Everyday someone comments on a blog.  I’ve always felt that comments on a blog were just as important as the blog itself as it gave other people an opportunity to express their views.  This in turn made the blog more meaningful and helpful.  It gives rise to new ideas and theory’s.  And sometimes it helps someone to have an epiphany.

Yesterday a commenter (Ms. Ninja) wrote on Bhabhi Made It Better.  Her comment reminded me of something that had been lurking in the back of my brain but had not fully been realized till she wrote.

You see, I’ve been writing about how hard it’s been to be in an intercultural relationship with someone whose parents didn’t approve.  I’ve been writing about the changes that I will make in my life and the difficulties I might face or that Bear has had to face.  I’ve been writing about how sad it makes my father to have a daughter move so far away.

But I’ve never once written about how hard it must be for Bear’s family.

And it has been hard for them.  And I think we need to address that too because it’s just as important as all the rest.

While I have not spoken to them directly about their feelings on this, I have got a very good idea of what their main concerns have been.  And while we might not always agree with their concerns, it does not lesson it for them.  The world might have moved on in some places, but not in all.

Just imagine you have a son or daughter that you think you know so well.  A son or daughter that you have hopes and dreams for.  And then imagine how you would feel when that son or daughter starts behaving in a way you’ve never seen or imagined them capable of before.  Starts making decisions without you when before they always came to you first before taking those decisions.  Just imagine your life being directly affected by those decisions and the extremity of the change.  How would you feel?  I know you are setting there saying to yourself the same things I’ve said…if I love them I would want the best for them and help them.  But isn’t that exactly what Baba and Aai have done?  Whether or not we agree with their methods, it doesn’t change that their feelings are just as important to them as ours are to us.

Baba and Aai have been asked to face a great many challenges during the past 8 months since Bear and I told them of our intention to marry.  Their world, the one that they had created and cherished and depended on was crashing around their feet.  They were desperate, just as any normal human being who loves greatly would be.  And I love them all the more for it.

To return to my psychology training, Baba and Aai have been going through what Kubler-Ross called the five stages of Grief.

Let’s explore those now so that you can see that their behavior has been exactly what any other normal human being has experienced when dealing with a severe loss of something beloved.

Denial: usually temporary and sometimes can come again after the second stage of grief – Anger.  It’s a defense mechanism to protect the person from realizing the truth of what they are faced with.  By denying the fact of our marriage, or of my existence for some time, it helped them cope with the fact of its reality.

Anger:  Once in the second stage, the individual begins to realize that the denial cannot continue.  Anger can manifest differently for different people and for different reasons.  However the Anger is still there and can make the person difficult to manage or even talk to at this stage.  It is during this time that YOU have to remain calm and not take personally anything that is said.  You also have to remember that you will be needed to help the person healthily express his or her Anger.

Bargaining:  The third stage is when the person comes to hope that they can change the situation or simply delay it.  This is when they can be at their most charming, desperate or even vindictive.  This stage gives the person the appearance of logical and rational thought when making their deals and it is up to you to help them remember the reality of the situation.

Depression:  During the fourth stage the person begins to understand that the situation will not change or be delayed.  Due to this, the person may refuse to speak or see anyone.  He or she may stop medication or proper eating habits.  Essentially, daily routine may become difficult or even impossible for them.  It is during this stage that you must focus on helping them come to terms with the situation and help get them back on track with living their life (in the case of imminent death – this may take longer and require more from you, do not expect them to be happy…but living includes some happy times).

Acceptance:  The final stage is the acceptance of the situation and with that comes some modicum of peace and deeper understanding.  At this stage a person may not focus on any kind of feeling nor express them.  It is up to you to remain with them, and nurture their acceptance to help them continue on with the healing process.

Psychology has found that the five stages of grief apply to any grief situation, from the death of a loved one, learning of one’s own imminent death or even to the loss of some beloved and long cherished belief.

While each person is unique, it does not change that we are all basically “hard wired” for the same range of emotions and emotional internal dialogue.  How we deal with them is what makes us unique.

Bear’s parents went through their own version of the Kubler-Ross model.  While they experienced Denial twice, once before Anger and again right after…they still experienced the same range of emotions and the same stages of Grief.  Their Grief was over the loss of who they thought their son was and the dreams that they had for him.

It’s difficult to correlate two cultures into one.  It’s even more difficult for other cultures not as diverse as our own to accept the emergence of a new culture into theirs.  And really, we cannot blame them.  We’ve gone through it ourselves, and quite recently (consider 9/11).  Just because something is different from what we know and practice does not make it inherently wrong.  It just makes it different…

And as my beloved father once said…

“The door swings both ways sweetheart, if you try to stop it from doing that you are going to get a painful smack in the butt for your efforts.”

So while I sat over here thinking that Bear’s parent should apply the thought that not all things that are different are wrong, I forgot to apply that to myself if I ever allowed myself to get angry or frustrated with their actions!  Not always mind you, I’m pretty open minded and good about remembering the other person has a point of view and I have to respect that.

But hey, I’m human too; so to say that I was altruistic throughout it all would make me a liar.  So I won’t say that.  And I think you already know the truth of it anyway.  J

Anyway, this post was to help me remember things for the future…and maybe it will be someone else’s epiphany.  You never know.

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7 thoughts on “Last night I had an Epiphany!

  1. You know I thought of you while we were down in SD south of LA a few weeks ago and wondered if I’d spot you and Bear shopping for your wedding. It’s time for me to de-lurk and wish you A Very Happy Wedding day. I have truly enjoyed reading your blog posts for sometime now and love the joy you seem to spread thru your writing. Bless you both. We just moved to the Bay Area and should you need any kind of help with anything whatsoever esp the wedding ping me. I am also a fellow maharashtrian- well atleast one half of me is- my mom.

    • Hi Deepa! And Welcome!!! I’m so glad you took a moment to write! It always makes me so happy when I hear from someone new and get to know them! Hopefully you continue to comment! I’m also glad that you’ve been enjoying my insanity!!!! 🙂 LOL

      Thank you so much for the well wishes and congratulations! We both appreciate it so very much! Everyone seems to be as happy for us as we are for ourselves.

      I’ll post more of my insanity today so be sure to check back! LOL Till then, take care!

      PS: If ever your in Artesia (little India here) be sure to look around for a Gori girl with her Raj Kumar….we are often there. Especially look wherever there is Jalebi or a girl trying to pull a very reluctant boy into a jewelry shop! HAHAHA

  2. hi…
    …i think the problem arises when parents don’t know their children well enough….many people live double lives..one before their parents , the other when alone or with friends/colleagues….try living like that for years and then one fine day you tell them something drastic to your parents…all hell breaks loose………( dont know if this applies in your story …but it seems common )..

    i have seen people starting off with anger mostly ( forget about denial )…..then the rest….

    • Hi Monti! Welcome back!

      I think your point is an excellent one. I have found that even my friends here lead that kind of double life, although not to the extreme that some of my Indian friends have spoken about. It’s a shame that children feel they have to hide their true self to their parents and parents are shocked that they do it. So often the things that are hidden didn’t need to be in the first place.. And then there are the one’s that should be told in order to receive help, like one of my best friends growing up was an alcoholic by the age of 10…it would be another 7 years before she cleaned up and stayed clean. Maybe if her parents had known about it sooner, that wouldn’t have happened. I didn’t know it myself…she was a great hider. I only knew that she was sometimes clumsy and smelled like Listerine.

      I’m wondering what can be done to help raise awareness to parents that certain actions or words of theirs cause a reaction in their children to hide. Any ideas?

      Bear was always a straight and narrow kind of guy, so really his decision to ask me to marry him shocked even me!!!! And that’s probably why I was also able to remember to stay cool and calm in the face of some of his parents reactions….I just kept thinking “If I’m this shocked, imagine how they must feel!”.

      • ….people hide their ideas/dreams/plans/lifestyles so that everyone remains happy….in our society, children have plans of their own ( which they keep as a secret )…parents have their own plans for their children ( assuming that they’ll follow them )….everything goes on fine and peacefully ( most people avoid confrontation )……..

        ….i think it’s okay to lead a double life on a number of things like your lifestyle ( speaking in the context of indian society )…but on bigger issues like marriage, career choice etc…it’s better to resolve things….

  3. For some time, I have been reading your blog and few other blogs on Indian + XYZ interracial relationships. I am glad to read that you had epiphany finally and starting to see things from their point of view. Hopefully, it will help improve relations with everyone

    I told same to my wife (non-Indian) quite a while ago. Before criticizing someone else’s culture/ actions/ beliefs, try to imagine your own culture/ actions/ beliefs through their POV. Thankfully, I couldn’t have asked for better relations between my wife and my parents. My parents always complement that even an Indian DIL wouldn’t be as nice to them as my wife is.

    I am surprised that your in-laws are not attending the wedding and your husband is okay with that. Are you going to have a wedding in India too?

    • Hi Gua,

      Throughout all of this, I’ve always maintained a healthy level of respect for his family no matter what my opinion of their actions are. Bear and I have always treated them with kindness, patience and love. So my epiphany will not change my behavior to them. And I’ve never questioned the culture, religion or beliefs. What I’ve questioned are traditions that are blindly followed, with no other explanation other than “that’s just the way it is” and it’s quite obviously a tradition that is limiting in nature and possible harmful to the emotional well fare of others. I did not approve of some of their actions and for a time these were so severe and my shock so extreme that I was in no position to try to see why they were doing what they were doing. Only that what they were doing was excessively wrong and essentially the “punishment did not match the crime”.

      I really appreciate that you have been reading the blog, however please keep in mind your own statment…

      “Thankfully, I couldn’t have asked for better relations between my wife and my parents.” One thing I’ve always pointed out is never judge someone before you have walked in their shoes. The absolute emotional pain that Bear and I have lived (as well as his family and mine) over the past eight months have been none too easy. We have always striven to remain open, accessible and positive when dealing with any family member even though we never received reciprocation on that until recently. Imagine fighting a battle with kindness in the face of anything but for eight months.

      And I’ve always known in the back of my mind that they had these same feelings….but it wasn’t until Bear and I were no longer under a constant barrage of disapproval, hostility and guilt trips that I was finally able to start focusing on something other than protecting myself or Bear.

      So, to wrap it up, I’ve always seen what their point of view was….I did not agree with their actions. I’ve always known they had feelings and emotions with regards to our decision, but that does not always equate that you have a right to treat someone else any way you see fit. There are rules for everyone, whether you are a parent or child, Hindu or Christian, American or Indian.

      Hope to see you keep commenting. Take care and have a good evening.

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