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.

The Name Game…

hello-my-name-isWonderful news!  His parents have accepted our marriage!

But wait!  There’s more!

Apparently, his mother will only accept it if I follow family tradition and change my first name upon marrying Bear!  😦

Apparently, some families in Maharashtra follow this tradition/custom.  Bear’s family is one of those.

Bear and I had discussed this possibility a long time back when I first heard of it from another source and asked him if his family also follow this tradition.  He had said yes, but that it wasn’t compulsory for me to do so.

Nevertheless, I contemplated it.

The name he had chosen for me should I accept the change was a beautiful one and somewhat sounded like my real name (or my American one).

But my father, of whom I am deeply attached, gave me my name.  He had argued with my mother for days in order to win this particular battle…and he got his wish.  I was given the name he had chosen for me long before he even knew there was a me to name.

My father has been my saving grace over the years.  The one I went to for advice on all things (boys, makeup, and math).  I felt closer to my father than I ever did my mother.  My father was my knight in shining armor.  Always there to fight my battles when I couldn’t do it for myself.  My champion of light.  My father is truly one of the best men in my eyes…and I just couldn’t give up the name he had given to me.  It would destroy him.

You see, when I was younger I hated my first name.  It’s very old fashioned, especially during my youth.  I got picked on A LOT for it.  So I once asked him if I could change it.  He became very serious, his eyes misted up a little bit and he told me how much he loved my name and asked me if I knew it’s meaning.  I said no.  “Worthy of Love”….was his reply.  He told me how he had wanted that name for as long as he could remember and how much my name fitted me.  He said that someday, I would see how beautiful it really was and how true its meaning could be.  And he was right.  That day did come and I loved my name as much as he did.  Even if it took me growing up to see it.

And when I told him that I would be moving to India to be with my soon to be husband, he again became emotional and with tears in his voice, he said “I want you to be happy with all my heart, but I’m so afraid we will only see each other a few times before I die if you move so far away”.  I knew, without him saying anything else, how much my decision to live in India with Bear was hurting my father.  How scared he was.  And I saw how much he was giving up to let me go.  To let me go and live the life he helped give.

It’s because of these things that I know without asking, how very much my giving up my name would hurt my father.

And so I told Bear that I couldn’t do this.  That I thought about it and the reasons why I felt I couldn’t change my name once we were married.  Even though I liked the name he chose for me very much.  I explained that I would be “Aurora” in my heart forever.

And Bear agreed.  He said he had fallen in love with “Aurora” and wouldn’t want that to change if I did not wish it to.

And now this.

JUST when you think you’ve won the war, a new little skirmish comes up to kick you in the pants!

Except this was a big skirmish and I know it’s important to his family for me to do this “one thing” for them.  The only thing that they are asking for.  And they have been very sure to point that out.  That’s it’s the only thing that are asking for from me.

Can we say Guilt Trip boys and girls?  I knew you could.

But you know what?  No matter what, I know what is right.  I know what my value’s are.  And I know I made the right decision.  So I stand by it.  I will not change my name legally.  So I told them that they could all call me by this new name that Bear has chosen, that they can even introduce me to THEIR friends by this new name, but legally and to my friends and family I will remain “Aurora”.

Mom and Dad were NOT pleased with this.  And they relayed this information through Bear and Bhau (means brother in Hindi – in this case it’s Bear’s brother).

So I told all of my feelings to Bhau and to Bhabhi.  And they understand and agreed that this is fair, my wanting to keep it legally and allowing family to call me by the new name.  So they are once again stepping in for me and speaking to the parents to try to make them understand that I am not disrespecting the family by refusing, I am showing my respect for my family while still trying to respect his.

Let’s all pray that they can understand this and agree.

The other good news is that now Bhau will be coming to the wedding.  Bhabhi cannot because she just had a child.  This makes me sad.  I want to meet the woman who made things so much better for us all.  I want her to be there for this.  But we will have Bhau and through him….Bhabhi.

The countdown is on now people.  Let’s see just how sane I can remain!