Friday, December 07, 2007

Like and alike

I have been thinking lately about the peculiar joy of recognition. By that, I mean the moment or even the slow-growing time when you realize that you have found someone with whom you have something, or even a lot of things, in common. It is so delightful. When I find someone who has a little rainbow family like mine, who reads as voraciously as I do, who is as obsessed as I am with food, who went to BYU at the same time I did, who uses the same kick-butt roll recipe I do for the holidays ... it's an incomparable delight. I savor and rejoice in tying those connections.

Even when it's a bond with someone I never thought was much like me at all, like Z's biological mom, the discovery of a personal similarity can be a beautiful reminder that what I sometimes think of as my accomplishments are really more blessings from heaven, and that we really are all God's children way down deep, wanting and needing the same things, just given different challenges and abilities.

Of course, this joy has its opposite. I find one of the most difficult things for me is when someone I thought was so like me turns out not to be so like me, after all. Sometimes it's a shallow and harmless shock, like when I discovered my office mate hated Napoleon Dynamite. Sometimes it's a reaction that reminds me I am neither so kind nor so mature as I would like to think, like when someone who was supposed to be infertile (like me) has a surprise pregnancy. Sometimes it rocks me to the core, like when someone I admire or love turns away from the faith we previously had in common.

It's no secret among those who know me that there are several people in my family who no longer participate in the LDS Church. Over the past few years this has caused me to search, to mourn, to envy, to question where I stand. Sometimes it has led me to judgment and anger. Of course, I'm not very proud of that, when I stand back and look at it. But at the bottom of it all is this visceral hurt that goes something like this: "I thought we were alike, but now I see that we're not."

This is probably no big revelation to anybody but me, but that's not a particularly healthy or productive place to hang out. We stay there, and the rifts grow wider. We start to wonder if the breaking of one tie amounts to a total personal rejection. We pick at the scabs where maybe one or two of our ties to those people have pulled away, and we never start to feel better.

A few days ago one of my brothers became a daddy for the first time. Joy. Recognition. Connection - even across many miles. It has made me realize how much sweeter and even easier it is (once I start) to keep building bonds instead of nursing the empty spots where I found out we were not the same.

So there are people I love whose personal foundations I can't take for granted anymore. I should let myself have the happiness of seeing the treasures they really are, instead of sulking about my broken Lusterware family.

So that's my new resolution. It's really just a long, drawn-out way of saying I'm going to try to be more positive. That's the way I like to say things.


SalGal said...

Let me know how it works out for you. I've been trying to concentrate on the alike-ness for a few years now, on the brighter and lighter things and sometimes, some people (and I'm not naming names, Uncle D) just can't let those un-alike things go.

Victoria said...

I just love you! Thank you :)