Generational Gap

Last year, I met someone who worked at the “Playing for Change” day and after talking a bit about his genealogical heritage, I found out his mother was full blood Cherokee. He pulled out an image of his mother, and instantly I was struck by the resemblance to my wife’s family. After some more queries and a few days later, we were able to find out that they were third cousins once removed. I posted an image of the two of them with the caption “Cousins” on it. My wife is caucasion/native American and he is Afroamerican/native American. The response from family has been troubling and is something that re-affirms that there is a generational gap between ages of people.

To my wife and me, people are people – I don’t care their race, colour, creed, nationality, or anything. They are living and that is all that matters. With my wife’s family, though, there is a hesitation with this image. My wife’s sister was very uncomfortable with me posting it. Why?

I know my sister in law is courteous to others in person. I also know that my brother in law was courteous in person, but get him in private and he would be about as gritty as you can be. Both my wife’s brother and sister are more than six years older than her. Was there a difference in how people are treated in that short of a time span? Obviously, there is.

 

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Love

Have you ever gotten that look from one of your children, one of total disbelief and where they can’t grasp what is going on? I recently had one with my daughter. Let me explain.

We were shopping for something – don’t remember exactly what – and my mind drifted. My daughter noticed and asked what I was thinking about. Obviously, I was in deep thought. I told her – I was thinking about an ex-girlfriend of mine and what she was going through. That started that look. Then she asked if I still loved the girlfriend – to which I answered that I do still love and care about her. Her chin hit the ground, her eyes were about to water, and she somehow managed to say this somehow, “Does mom know about her?” “Mom does know about her, how I feel, and that we talk all the time,” I told her, and then continued with “and Mom has some of her ex-boyfriends that she stays in touch with and talks to frequently, too.” The expression and shock on her face surprising to me. As my daughter came out of her shock, she said, “I wouldn’t be allowed to with my boyfriend and it just isn’t right.You don’t do this kind of thing.” Keep in mind that my wife and I have been married for almost 19 years, and were engaged for another 3 years on top of our marriage. My daughter refers to my wife and I as geese because we are always together and it is her romantic vision of who we are. I went on to explain to daughter that I still love and care about all six of the women who I have loved in my life. It isn’t something that goes away or that you fall out of. Love is something that lasts through the rest of your life.

Therein lies what I think is a problem with the love and marriages today. Is it really love if you can’t give up control and trust your spouse? There is a saying and I don’t know who said it, but it goes like this: “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they are yours. If they don’t, they never were.” If you love someone, that person is there because they love and trust you. They don’t need to be controlled and manipulated to stay with you. My daughter’s boyfriend forbids her talking with ex-boyfriends because he doesn’t trust her boyfriends and what might possibly happen if their talking goes on for any amount of time. I know it isn’t my daughter that he doesn’t trust. But, still, I have to wonder if she gets married to him if he really loves her because there are trust issues.

I have also seen this happen to a few of my wife’s ex-boyfriends and even smaller number of male friends that I hang out – they get engaged, and all contact with previous lovers is to stop. My question: why did you say you would marry them if you don’t trust them? Controlling or manipulating someone isn’t love. Doing this is a lack of trust – one that makes me wonder why they want to be married in the first place. I would think that this thought – are they going to be there tomorrow? – would overwhelm and tear up a solid marriage.

Does this mean you will be together and everything will be wonderful if you do trust your spouse and let them talk with their exes? I can’t answer that. I can tell you that the ex-girlfriend we are talking about is someone who I let get away because I let her get away. I still have questions in my mind if I was wrong for not chasing after her, and pursuing her more than I did.

I can also say that love is something that lasts a lifetime. Just because your relationship is over with someone, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t become a part of your heart and that you won’t think about them anymore. You do think about them and you will care. Each person who you are or have been with will be special. They are a part of your heart. If you loved them, they will be with you the rest of your life.

Caring

With a lot of the response from yesterday and a post by another friend, I want to cover something that is always a sticky issue: caring. This is what one friend in the UK posted on a social network: “We say ‘I care’ like it makes a difference, as though caring does some tangible good. We say it as though it must count for something, as though we’ve done our bit. How often do we care enough to act?” Frequently in our world, no one does anything other than saying “sorry” or “I care” or “*hugs*”. Don’t believe me? Take a look on FaceBook or what is being tweeted. You can also care too much. What is that happy medium? Is there one? At what point should someone act?

As a person who works with and advises a lot models, it tears me up when one of them has been taken advantage or manipulated. Worse is when I see they are being manipulated or taken advantage. From the model’s point of view, they only want to blame themselves for what happened and think they deserve what they received. Many times, it is well beyond what anyone could expect from a normal person. In about a fifth of the situations, from the model’s own description, they were raped (even if the model doesn’t call it that). One of the clear indicators of this behavior is when the photographer states something to the effect of “the photo session should have been kept between us and no one else.” Why? What needed to be hidden? Why shouldn’t have anyone else been told? Once this has been said, I know the model has been manipulated and coerced into something they wouldn’t have normally done. It also amazes me that many of these models only need an apology, and then they go back and try again with the same person. This only ends up being worse for them if I hear about their next session. Think about the situation in Fifty Shades of Grey: what would you have done had you known something like this was going on?

So, where is that line of caring? When is it not enough? When is it too much? Is there a line?

I have to say there is a line. Repetitively this has been the case. Too little or too much causes a backlash from the person. What is bad, from the person’s perspective who was in that bad situation, That time can be one of the best days in their life… and still to me, it is something that is wrong. This is especially true when their significant others contact you and want to know who was this person who they worked with and what happened because they aren’t the same person the day after. Why is it that their significant other is upset? Why would they say it is something good and they have put their relationship with their life partner at risk or pushed their life partner away?  Is being manipulated or abused really that fulfilling that they are willing to walk away from everything you have worked hard to get in life including their relationships with family, friends, and everyone else around them? Once this happens, they are even more easily manipulated by the instigator.

I do care about people. Unfortunately, I error on the side of caring too much. This usually happens when things are falling apart for the person, and they least want to hear what I have to say to them: what are you thinking? I am not a mind reader. And yes, I do ruin their perception of a good time or good day when they talk to me before they do it. As one model asked me a while back, “Why do you _always_ poop at my party?” The reason: I care. I don’t want harm to come to them. I don’t want them to die. I want them aware of all the risks they are taking. In some cases, I will just flip out with the amount of risks the person is taking. Having over seven years in first response type work, I have seen quite a bit when things go horribly wrong. You can’t convey this to someone who is determined to take risks. Besides, they are consenting, of age, and willingly choose to do something risky.

When is caring too much? When is caring not enough?

Shades of Grey

Yesterday, a friend posted a warning about a romance when she was 21 similar to the one you find in the new best seller Fifty Shades of Grey. She was naive and thought the individual loved her. Much like the heroine in the story, she fell madly in love with the individual and with the games he played, she was under his spell quickly. The relationship culminated in her being raped. After three years of being held for rape, the criminal suit is over and he is being released. The suit came down to a “he said” and “she said” with no way of proving anything — there is only her word that she said “no” and didn’t consent to what happened. There were no witnesses. Worse, many people involved with investigating this case felt that she wouldn’t have been involved in a relationship like this had she not expected something like this to occur. The person who raped her continues to maintain his innocence and that he didn’t rape her. I know how distraught my friend is. I also believe her.

Why would I post this? The main reason is to put a warning out there that there are people who will take advantage of you. The relationships that are formed are ones of extreme trust. The ability to communicate is paramount to doing this kind of activity, and once in a “scene”, it is hard to communicate and convey you want to stop. Of the people who I know who are in these relationships, they all love one another very deeply and it is obvious that they do. Still, even in a “vanilla” relationship, communication is difficult and there are misunderstandings. A relationship like this has to be even more difficult.

To all the people who think the relationship in the book is what they want: the book is fiction and romanticized. If you are or know someone who is getting into this lifestyle because of the book, they need to seriously need to evaluate what they are doing and make sure they are communicating with the people who they are talking to make sure they know what they are agreeing. This type of lifestyle works for some people but not all. If you are a friend, be there for them and talk with them. Be there for your friends when things go wrong, and know it won’t be easy for you, either. There is a lot of understanding that is required – by the individuals in the relationships, the friends who know people in the relationships (whether you agree with it or not), and those who have to see the marks of what happens to the individuals. It isn’t easy for anyone.