Confusing emails

There have been another volley of emails which I did not receive again, even after I requested issues involving me be sent to my email address.

Instead of responding to Cream right now, I am sorting my thoughts out here.  Constructive feedback is welcomed.

The following are a few excerpts from email conversations.  We are in black, in-laws are in colour as the emails were.

“I know this is about much more than the painting itself. We are not trying to rebel against a certain subculture that you have adopted just to agitate you. Actually, that is how it appears to us. Especially when you mention further down that we have not given you freedom to be yourself …. then this can be viewed as an act of sure what word to use …… so there! now let’s see what you say.   You are also parents.  One day you will look back on this and understand completely where we are coming from in our questions. “

So there?  Seriously?  Does this deserve a response?

“Isn’t this how in extreme cases seemingly good people end up doing horrible things, such as those who went along with Nazi cultural movement (or countless other examples I could use)? Yes, those who stood up against them faced consequences. But don’t we now seem them as heroes, and the conformists as cowards?  well, as i read this paragraph it could also support someone(like me)  challenging (questioning)  behavior that I feel could be  hurtful to others.   –sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes just to make a statement, sometimes not.   Would you consider me the conformist? or the challenger? And where do you place yourself? Conforming to your generation? or challenging it?    ……depends on the culture, depends on the generation.      and how do I see you at this time?    I actually see you as right in the middle of a movement of people your age who are challenging  anything and anyone in authority over them, who are re-defining God because they don’t accept that love comes with two sides … including consequences for behavior…..  and who believe that they have more knowledge than their parents, seniors, leaders, and that they have an enlightened knowledge of life, of God, of truth, and claim to hold values that are based on society and will fluctuate with the times ….  ……..    that could be another interesting discussion.   These are actually not my words….. but I agree with them…  Am I completely clueless?  Maybe.  “

So, I can’t accept that love can come from two sides.  We had this conversation at Christmas.  I stated it was not loving to command genocide and I could not accept that genocide could come from love, ergo the god of parts of the Old Testament was not what I call loving.  It is what I call abusive.  Cream disagreed.

” I see truth as being lost , fear of speaking truth because of the consequences, fear of being brutally(used as per the sermon on sunday)  honest with anyone because of being considered ‘judgemental” or “opinionated” or domineering or bossy or bullying or ….. the words go on. But because the truth is not being spoken, generations are growing up with world values and that has no solid base at all….. what is ok today, will not be ok tomorrow, or in the next generation ..   we would be seeking do what we want, what makes us happy and “others” in your life become secondary.  God’\s main commandent is to love God , then to love others as you love yourselves.   that is no longer apparent in some of the issues that are coming up in this day.   

“I can understand that growing up in an immigrant family, you faced incredible pressure as a child to conform and adopt to the new culture your family was living in, to avoid being persecuted and bullied. I know that Great Opa ____ dealt with being bullied as a child, even in ____, by becoming a bully himself (Oma told us these stories), and this has inevitably influenced you growing up. Please don’t try to bring up ideas that have not come first from us. I don’t think this is something we have ever discussed with you so I am not sure why you think that you know where we stand on that. And I don’t think you are correct in your view …at least not of our family.     

No, we discussed the relationship between the grandmother and her father with the grandmother.    We didn’t discuss it with Cream nor did we say we thought we knew where she stood.    We do not need Cream’s permission to talk to her mother.  I think our mistake was to say it has inevitably influenced Cream.  Fair enough, I can apologize for that.

“We felt that to ask your permission to hang the painting, or to take the painting down out of fear of your unwarranted reactions during your visit, would be a way to let you bully us around. Permission? bullying? I am sorry that you feel  tthis way. that you refer to    my questions as bullying. I was referring to respect.  It is interesting that this was a topic of conversation between you…..   I am sorry that it was. but it does help me understand some of it.  I am starting to think that I have had a completely different idea of where you were at as parents with children, adults, living far away from us …….    To dictate your fear-based ideas(not fear, dan,  love and concern for others)  of behavioural conformity onto us.

I understand from this that she feels her saying they would not enter our home if the picture was hanging was respectful and loving and that the only way we could be respectful and loving would be to have not even had it up to begin with.  Our questioning of the manner that we were talked to was disrespectful?  I am so confused.

“If you wanted to have a discussion about the painting or whatever else, we could have done that as mature adults. It feels like you’re now treating us as disobedient, ignorant and unruly children.Again, it is interesting that you feel this way.  Are you unruly? disobedient? These are your words,  not mine. Sometimes there is truth in what we think and perhaps we don’t always see the truth in our own lives.  Sometimes, it takes someone who loves us, and dares to speak to us in love, to clarify a behavior or a motive…..   

What do I say here?

“Keep in mind, if you had asked us politely and respectfully to remove the painting during your visit we would have done so, even though disagreeing with why it should be removed. We would never have asked you to do anything in your own home that you did not want to do. The question still is that we would have accomodated our beliefs by being able to control our own actions.   Never yours.  “

I am confused again.  Their refusal to enter our home with the painting is accommodating their beliefs, but respectfully asking us to take it down while they visit is wrong?  Am I confused because I am expecting this to make sense?   Is the only ‘respectful’ option to want to agree with them?  Or am I missing something else?


13 thoughts on “Confusing emails

  1. Kirstin says:

    Sigh. I admire your courage in attempting to sort things out with your in-laws. I read the circular argument in these emails and it just exhausts me. It seems like such an uphill battle to try to get them to understand your side, no?

    To a large extent, we just avoid controversial topics with my parents and in-laws. I know my in-laws think I’m a slightly crazy overeducated woman with strange ideas, but I try very hard not to stir the pot too much. I imagine it’ll all come out again at some point, as it has in the past with my parents…

  2. Jon says:

    All this over something hominids have been doing since waaay before they were hominids (way more than 6000 years)? This is why we are referred to as mammals. And I’m an old guy!

    • prairienymph says:

      🙂 I think the fact that we are mammals is part of the problem. If one’s worldview doesn’t allow humans to be animals, then things that remind people they are are unwelcome.

  3. ... Zoe ~ says:

    What a mess. No wonder you are confused. Is it possible to simplify this and ask her what Jesus would do if he had walked into your home and saw your art?

    I mean, didn’t he create our mammary glands and give us nipples. Didn’t he bring us into the world naked? Tell her to take up her concerns with the man who gave us boobs.

    Prairie, all I see in this exchange is someone who is manipulative, defensive, accusatory and pissed off. I don’t think you can reason with him/her. 😦

    Be sure to keep these emails and keep in mind that what you write might be used against you if she ever calls child protective services. If I were you I would not play this game with them. My 0.2 cents.

    • prairienymph says:

      It is bizarre. Cream told us that her husband thought this picture was “one more thing to come between us”. When we said this was sad and we didn’t believe it had to come between us, she sent an email accusing us of making it into a divide when she sees it as something that could bring us together.

      I am quite willing to cut off all of this kind of contact but I don’t want to be hasty or let silence appear to be consent.
      She did tap into one of my fears quite well- that of being an unwise and arrogant youth. However, the constant reminders to herself that we will change our minds when we get older and wiser are causing me less and less fear and more pity.

      • ... Zoe ~ says:

        I sense Prairie that if it wasn’t this issue it would just be another. 😦 But they’ve taken the “God-given human naked form” and turned it into a position of power and control.

        She doesn’t realize that when she was young, the older generation blamed her for all of the world’s problems as well.

  4. Prairienymph, am I deeply saddened to see this went much deeper than I had guessed by your earlier post. In my opinion, and in line with Zoe‘s comment, you have become the symbolic epitome of everything which is going wrong with the whole world in her view. You will not win her over, nor will she ever consider your side of the story, because your side is, (symbolically) to her, the root of society’s evils today.

    If I was in this position, I would take a long look at the value she and her husband have in the lives of my immediate family. If there is considerable value, maintain the relationship, but keep a figurative arm’s length away. If the cost cancels out or exceeds the value, it may be time to start the end of the relationship.

    In either case, I would be tempted to end the contention in these emails right now by sending a reply to the effect of “you were right” in a carefully worded, non-patronizing way; only loosely responding to her specific points, if at all. Or, if that seems a little too dishonest, just play up the angle that perhaps you are being a little hasty in your assessment of the situation, and that she has given you much to think about. Let her think that she has won, or at least has reached you enough that you have really listened to her opinion.

    This should help dissolve the risk of Child Protective Services being unnecessarily called. This will also help you get on with how you want the relationship to be rather than focusing on how it is right now. If that is a continued relationship, then the present troubles can flow by like water under the bridge. If that is an ended relationship, then this can lead to a more-natural fading away which can leave the door open to a later change of heart, as opposed to a fiery standoff which makes any future reconciliation very difficult.

    At least those are my thoughts based on what I see here, but naturally you have a better perspective.

  5. I agree with the descriptor “exhausting.”

    You are trying to have an adult conversation, using reason and logic, with someone who is neither rational nor an adult. Emotionally, she is a child. You are speaking a language she doesn’t/won’t understand. Many fundamentalist religions insist on keeping their followers at the emotional age of children for the very reasons demonstrated by Cream.

    I have relatives who are similar. For me, there is only one choice: I had to set my boundaries, terminate communications with anyone who refused to respect those boundaries, and welcome anyone who did. During the intervening years I’ve lost several of conditional and superficial relationships — and I am much better for it. On the upside a few authentic souls have contacted me and we’re closer than ever. What I lost in quantity I’ve made up several times in quality.

    Have you ever tried to argue facts and logic with a devout Mormon? Logical fallacies galore. You may as well beat your own head against a wall. Cream would make a fine Mormon.

  6. Quince says:

    I have found, in my experience, not much is resolved through email arguments. In fact, there is long term ‘evidence’ to hold against each party once the argument passes, and many things possibly said in the heat of the moment are recorded indefinitely. It is hard to show restraint, and hard to have an honest back-and-forth discussion via this medium, especially the fact that many things that would normally take minutes to reply, now take days…and prolong the stress and worry of it all.

    That said, if this is the only way of ‘communication’ at this point, you will be further ahead to be the ‘better’ person and show some restraint in replies – mostly for your own sanity. It takes incredible energy on your part to keep this going (or at least that is how I’d feel). Cream is obviously still very mad and quite upset. Also, from my perspective, their particular cultural background (to remain nameless!) likes to argue in the first place, so there may not be any immediate end to the current round of volleying back-and-forth.

    Often facts and logic fail us in times of great emotion. In these times we need to show great finesse on dealing with the issues at hand and redirect our emotions into positive efforts to resolve the issue. But there will come a time, maybe sooner rather than later, that you realize the issue is unresolvable. For someone with their particular belief system & worldview, this may be an unacceptable outcome – and continuing reason for the contradictory nature of the arguments in Cream’s emails. It only makes sense to Cream to continue to do everything in Cream’s power to have you see Cream’s way. There is on other outcome for Cream. You are expected to bend. In some ways this is not only an issue of religious belief, but generational differences in understanding of what it means to respect your elders.

  7. jen says:

    The whole interchange makes me feel confused… Like I’ve been turned on my head… I wish I could say something helpful, but all I can think is, “RUN! Run away!!”

    Good luck! ❤

    • prairienymph says:

      A friend of mine said that to me about my ex-boyfriend. Sometimes it is the best advice. It helps me feel less crazy. Its confusing not because I’m stupid, but because it doesn’t make sense.

  8. ncsteph says:

    I don’t have any sage advice, but I do hope that this gets resolved peacefully. Pointing out the highest commandments: “Love God. Love the ones He made.” as my own faith-filled approach, I am saddened that we humans still haven’t figured out just how easy that is. NOT standing in judgment is one of the most difficult tasks ever accomplished, but when placed into a context of “love” – recognizing that it is not our job to point out what others are doing wrong, but it IS our job to love them, regardless… this is the kind of Christian I want to be. When humanity gets to this place of Love, when Christians become Jesus-followers instead of making decisions based on what other “christians” will think… THAT is when the world will recognise the power of Love.

    Like I said: nothing really practical, or “sage”, in this comment, but more of a wistful “what if” moment… and to remind you (& your readers) that – although too many Christians do stand on the strength of religious understanding & “knowledge” formed by human minds – not all of us do… I love you! 🙂

  9. prairienymph says:

    Steph, I love you too!
    It takes a strong person and a healthy community to be able to base decisions on love and empathy instead of fear of what others think. Most of us want that, and while some versions of Christianity impede this, others like yours or Sufi Islam encourage it. Thats awesome. I’ve always admired your approach to Christianity.

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