I’ve been married for 15 and got married in my early 20s – young and immature. My brother in-law was a thorn on my side for so long and I was always so affected by what he said to me – usually indirect insults or talking down to me (I’m 8 years younger). For years, it was a vicious cycle of me crying and ruminating for days after we visited with him every single time because of something he said to me.
Example (For context, we were young, earning well and kidless, and he and his wife had kids young and he was the sole breadwinner with an average wage job.) He would always make negative comments to us about money and status – i.e. money got to your heads and there’s nothing like being poor and humble, ever since you guys started making money you guys think you’re better, it’s better to have old cars you can be loyal to than to be a trader and get a new car, don’t worry – everything that goes up has to come down (referring to us losing money or having less one day), the best wives are the ones that stay home to watch over their kids, women nowadays don’t know how to cook and tend to a family, women nowadays are too ambitious and don’t want to have responsibilities at home.
Several years ago now, their financial situation significantly improved and I thought his comments would change and we’d get him off our back meaning he’d stop making these negative comments to us about money and status since I finally felt like he was able to experience a little more of the “good life” we were living. I also started to feel a little compassion toward him as I learned more about how he was raised and realized that much of what he was saying was about him than it was about us.
In the earlier years, I always played small (I was a career person making a decent amount of money and had no kids, traveled, and just did whatever we wanted). When I was with them, I always hid all of that and never talked about myself or my career. I didn’t have much other conversation with my sister in law (his wife) as I never had anything in common with her (she was a stay at home mom who didn’t speak English, barely learned to drive and was raising small kids). I mention this because I always felt disconnected from them, less than them, so small, too ambitious, greedy (for working and making more money than I needed), and I felt like a “not good” woman (because I was non-traditional).
I wasted so many years (ugh, that’s painful to remember) worried about them accepting me and seeing me for who I am. I went out of my way to stay quiet, be invisible, not take jobs that were too good and played small around them. Being humble and not making too much money is glorified in our culture and I’ve always had the thought to be more and do more but I always stopped myself because I felt like I was not going to be approved by the the family or criticized for being to ambitious.
Through SCS, I now know that my circumstances won’t change – my brother-in-law and his words – and I want to continue working on my thoughts about him. Effectively, I came to the conclusion that I’m STILL afraid to share anything and just plain be authentic around him because of what ELSE he might say to me. I’m afraid of him criticizing my kids now (that are small), my parenting (my style is radically different from his), the fact that I still work (an amazing WFH arrangement with the best nanny ever, but it doesn’t matter), AND most of all that I want to start a business – talking about money!!!
It’s ludicrous, I know, that I’m afraid of potentially being a completely better version of me, transforming my family’s life and my future, and just seeing what’s possible, because of words he says. This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!! The one person I care about the least, but also desperately want his approval the most because I always felt like he disqualified me as a “good wife” for his brother from the very beginning through his words – word after word. The person I wasted so many years of thoughts and inaction on because I didn’t want to be seen as greedy woman with too much money that didn’t want to stay home and scrub the floors daily. The person that said the words that made me want to hold off on having kids because I felt like I’d never be a good enough mother. The person that my husband and I argued about for so many years and nearly got to divorce because I never felt like my husband was on my side. The person that I wasted millions of thoughts on and now I recognize that it was all me. Not him. Me. I gave meaning to those weightless words. I created stories and evidence around those words and let them steer my life ship.
Now that I want to start a business, it’s crippling thinking about what MORE ammunition I’ll be giving him to say more words about me. I’ve held off for months when I came to this realization inside me and it’s been so hard to get over. I’ve repeated these thoughts over and over for so many years that it’s been challenging trying to pivot even a few degrees.
What I know:
I’m generating all the thoughts about the past circumstances
Maybe I can rewrite my story about this era in my life
If I didn’t have those same money beliefs I wouldn’t be affected by his words
My life was designed for me to reach this point with the maturity and learning experiences I gained through the past years
I can choose to have my own back for the decisions that I made in my past
I can choose to believe that I can share more value with the world by starting this business, than the value I can provide by playing small
I can feel my feelings (hurt, sadness) and still choose to move forward
Most growth takes place in uncomfortable settings – this would be the ultimate discomfort for me
I want to see what is possible for me
How can move forward with more intentional thoughts? I’ve done so many models to arrive to this point that I still feel stuck as I thought my feelings would change around his words. The negative feelings have subsided a bit (no more crying or ruminating for days) but I still feel affected and therefore stuck in this place. AND most important of all – I haven’t started my business because of my thoughts about his words.
It’s painful to admit this in writing but I’m here for a change.