Sunday, June 21, 2009

Are you guilty of this?

Today I read an article on the about a young man who admits to a surprising policy during visits with his family:

95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family

KALAMAZOO, MI–A full 95 percent of the opinions held by Justin Wilmot, 26, were kept to himself Sunday during a Father's Day visit with his family.

Wilmot holds his tongue while his sister and mother discuss their mutual excitement about Legally Blonde 2.

"No one in my family really gets my worldview, so I find it easier just to smile and nod and agree with everything," Wilmot said Monday. "When I'm with them, I tend to be a lot quieter than when I'm hanging out with friends."

Wilmot, who grew up in Kalamazoo and now lives in Chicago, described the visit as "seven hours of self-censorship."

"We're totally not on the same wavelength at all," Wilmot said. "I'm not just talking about dangerous subjects like politics or religion, but pretty much everything they bring up–the shows they watch, the things they buy, the people they know. So if someone says Daddy Day Care was hilarious, I may be thinking, 'I can't believe Eddie Murphy was once respected as a subversive comic genius,' but I sure as hell don't say it."

Among the subjects Wilmot declined to weigh in on during the weekend get-together: new Tropical Sprite, Survivor, the selfishness of childless couples, Iraq, golf, AM talk radio, and his brother-in-law's fantastic idea for a calling-card side business.

Wilmot said he used to voice his opinions, but has long since given up.


Does that seem shocking to you? Not to me, and you can imagine why. Yes, whirling betty is guilty of the same. I am not particularly proud of it, but I learned several years ago that being true to myself is not worth it during family visits.

When my mother was alive, I was quite assertive. She always deferred to me. After she died, everything changed.

The family dissipated. My father married his longtime mistress and she was the complete opposite of my mother. She deferred to no one- least of all me!

When I went to visit my father in the house I was raised in, the presence of his new wife turned the house into a prison for me, even though I had lived there a lot longer than she had. I was only allowed to enter the bedroom I was assigned to (which, of course, was NOT the bedroom which had always been mine- it was my brother's and I had never liked it) and the downstairs.

HOWEVER, I was only allowed to be in the downstairs portion of the house WITH supervision! I kid you not. The bitch whom my father married was convinced that I was going to rob them if left unattended- yes, ROB them- even though my criminal history is nonexistent- nope, not even a speeding ticket can be attributed to whirlingbetty.

I had to make a decision. Either I had to eliminate my father from my life or I had to figure out a way to tolerate the insanity which he married. I decided that my visits would be infrequent and short. I would visit once every 3 years, and for only two days. They never visit me.

For two days every three years, I can squelch myself. I do not share their views on politics or gun control or homosexuality or race discrimination. I do not care to hear about how superior my father's wife and her adult children are to me and my siblings and my deceased mother. But I made the decision that I will spend two days every three years biting my tongue and visiting.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.


Loving Annie said...

Hi Betty. How are you ?

I'm also totally guilty of this - and completely understand you !

I do it only with my family.
I've made the trade-off of finding it acceptable with those three people. I see them as seldom as I can get away with.

I couldn't and wouldn't do it with anyone else because it feels so essentially false not to surround myself with people whose values and ways of thinking and behavior I respect, admire and am comfortable with that it would not be good for me.

So there is a line there that has to work for me in everyday life as a general rule :)

Lynilu said...

Oh, yes. But it has come lately to me. In recent years I have found myself at odds with most of my family over political views and philosophical ideals. Rather than voice myself, I have chosen to just be fairly glib in my communication, and when the conversation turns to something that will present a clash, I simply turn my attention to another discussion. It amazes me how things never came to these topics in past years. Perhaps my passion has simply emerged of late.

What bothers me is that my opinion is treated as a joke. I don't mind thoughtful debates, but I won't tolerate being slammed. So I smile and make nice.

I think we do what we must, however we assess the importance. Then we go away and live our lives happily elsewhere, right? I don't lose sleep over it.

Big Dave T said...

When it comes to family probably diplomacy rules most of the time. It's better to get along as you probably won't win any arguments anyway. Just my two cents.

Some things I like to be outspoken on, just because it's my nature. For example, I will defend blogging and bloggers against all comers.

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

Like you, I tend to apply this policy only to family. It's a good thing I don't see much of them!

However, it does not bother me to have friends whose views differ from mine. I don't hang around with bank robbers and scam artists, but I can tolerate differing political views.


Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

My father;s wife is one of those people who can't stop talking- not for hell or high water. It is impossible for me to insert anything like a change of topic or even a bit of humor. She does all the talking, holding her listeners hostage.

I don't lose sleep over it nowadays, especially now that I've limited the amount of time I have to spend on this. I might cut back to 2 days every 4 years!


Betty said...

Dear Big Dave,

Well, I'm certainly glad to hear that you defend blogging and bloggers! My family doesn't even know that I blog......


Priyamvada_K said...

Hi Betty,
I smiled and read through the original article and your blog, both. We didn't choose our families, and I guess we all do what we need to, just to maintain the peace. If it means squelching opinion, so be it :). No point having the one time you meet be confrontational.

I hear you on the prison too. I avoid visiting a beloved brother of mine just to avoid the insanity he married. Too bad, because we used to enjoy each other's company so much and he is very special to me.


Anonymous said...

OMG!!!! I can't keep my mouth
shut...Really...One thing said that
I don't like...My mouth flys open
and my opinion is spewed into the
ears of nearby bodies...That awful
step-b*#!c would have had more than
just my words...She would have had
my fist along with a baseball bat
upside her head...If my father
didn't like it then he would never
see me again...You are so much of
a better person than I am...
Honey...I could never stand in
your shoes...You are so much
better than me...



Betty said...

Dear Priya,

I am amazed at how many people seem to have the same problem. It's so sad about your brother. If he's like my father, he'll never be seen away from his spouse/prison guard!


Betty said...

Dear Laurie,

Oh, I'm sure I'm not better than you! It may be true that I bite my tongue better in some cases, but I have no doubt that your status rises above mine in many regards!


Priyamvada_K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
OMG you are 100% correct! My brother cannot be seen away from his spouse/prison-guard.

Pandemonium broke loose when I once photographed him playing with my daughter. His wife made a big scene saying I waited for the moment when she was in the bathroom to take that photograph WITHOUT her in it - apparently in this way I "proved" that I was trying to separate her from my brother.

Never heard a more psycho explanation of a simple photograph. I wonder what some men are thinking when they marry psychos - what is baffling is that these men also defend said psychos to the death.

I am sorry that you had to deal with this.

The only thing that gives me comfort is the suspicion (after a LOT of research) that the sister-in-law may be an Aspie. No normal person will attempt to control every aspect of another to the point of suffocation.

Check out this link