When I was growing up, my dad worked and my mom stayed home to raise two children, at least until we were well into grade school. My dad was gone a lot, so I learned about him from my mom.
At some point into my adulthood, I realized that I didn’t really know my dad, and that I was seeing him through the eyes of my mom. He and I hadn’t formed our own relationship.
I feel this way about our society as well. We see each other through the media’s eyes and not our own. We don’t really know each other.
Gary has three brothers. They are married with children and grandchildren, but we didn’t have children. (See that story at the previous link).
Through the years, we all lived fairly far apart and didn’t see each other often, nor did we really keep in touch. Except, we stayed connected with Gary’s mom, J. Through J, we’d learn all about what was happening in the family lives of our siblings. We were all too busy anyway, so Mom kept us updated. We had family reunions every two or three years, we could catch up then, right?
I used to beg Gary, “Please, call your brothers. Find out what they’re up to. See if they’re okay. What will you do when your parents are no longer with us?”
For the first twelve years of marriage, I took my husband’s hand and led him to stay in contact with his brothers. We tried to keep in touch in a myriad of different ways, but everyone was busy with their little children, so we didn’t hear much back from them. The only way to see or visit with them was by going to J’s house (100 miles from us) when they visited her. Since they had kids, we had to be available around their schedules, which we cleared, even at the last minute, when we heard through J they were coming over.
After working hard to try and stay connected, we became weary of the one-sided relationship. Around the twelve-year mark of our marriage, we gave up. We did as they did and got on with our own lives, hearing news of siblings through J and seeing them at her house only when our schedule allowed.
We have now been married for 31 years.
At J’s memorial over the weekend, his brothers realized that the link between siblings had died.
As I spoke with them, I learned that my efforts to keep in touch all those years ago had gone completely unnoticed. They also seemed to have misconceptions of me that didn’t make sense. I felt blamed for the disconnect. No one had addressed this with Gary, only me.
Was this my fault? Was I a bad person? I cried during the 90-minute drive home. When Gary saw my pain, he reached over in the car, held my hand and reminded me, “They’ve been getting their information from Mom all these years. It’s like you’ve said on other occasions, they’re seeing through the eyes of someone else … in this case, my Mom. They don’t know the real you.”
The point of this post is to share the life’s lesson of seeing others through our own eyes. Let’s forge relationships and get to know each other person-to-person, so we can see through our own eyes and not someone else’s. Let’s also be sure we know who we are and love ourselves, because it’s difficult to truly love others without self-love.
Have you ever had a misconception about you? If so, did the misconception make you question yourself? Or, did you handle it with ease and not really give a damn?