Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Only An Opinion

I'd be at loggerheads with fans of cricket or football if I said I can't stand either of these activities! But that's how it is, and it puts people's back up. Why do we allow other people's opinions to have such an impact on us? Differences of opinion can start wars and often generates a lot of violence.

When my husband died, my daughter's words to me were "That should be you down that hole, not him."
I was stunned. Completely shattered. I hadn't known she hated me that much. I thought our differences were just the usual mother / daughter thing which happens in many families.
Coping with the grieving process, plus constantly thinking about Julie's verbal attack on me, very nearly destroyed me. I was obsessed with it; couldn't leave it alone, because I couldn't find any answers.

Then suddenly the light went on. What my daughter said was her opinion ----- and nothing more. Taking that thought further, as an adult (she was 30) she had every right to have her opinion. But I did NOT have to agree with, or accept her view. The only way to deal with the situation was to stop resisting. She wasn't going to change her attitude, so I had to change mine, not for her, but for me. Allow her to have her opinion. Give it back to her as a gift, and move on.

We all operate on two levels, intellectual and emotional, and when these two start a fight, we can expect trouble, not knowing which way to turn.
I reacted to Julie's attack from an EMOTIONAL standpoint. I was hurt, shocked, but also confused. The confusion was because on an INTELLECTUAL level, I knew it was unfair and unjustified. The battle was on. Logic and reason were telling me I had nothing to reproach myself for, but this was clashing with the hurt and despair, and the need to put things right, when in reality, it couldn't be done.

As a child, I was always scribbling on bits of paper. I have a natural ability for sketching, but fashion sketches are the limit of my ability. I often wonder if this talent was given to me to make up for my lack of interest in all things domestic!
But I was considered an oddity, because in the north of England in the late 1940's an early 50's, a young woman's interests were supposed to centre in and around the home. The Fashion Industry was, and sometimes still is, regarded as something airy fairy, unnecessary, and not to be taken seriously.
Because I was always sketching or had my nose in fashion mags, I was labelled a *flibbertigibbet*, which the dictionary defines as *a frivolous and restless person*.

The general opinion was that I was "getting above my station", and among the working class of Northern England, this was practically a hanging offence. Who was I to think I could be a fashion designer? Wasn't my Dad a tram driver? Wasn't my Mother a factory worker? Tut, tut. Disgraceful!

In those days we bowed to the opinions of our elders and betters, and at the age of 15 I was sent to work in a cotton spinning mill.

But the urge to create designs wouldn't go away and when I married, I decided to do an evening course at the College Of Art. All hell broke loose. Instead of wasting my time scribbling, why didn't I study something sensible------like cooking? I hated cooking. Still do.

My husband had his opinion too. This was the age of the Hippie. These people wore funny clothes ( jeans and caftans were the rage), and they indulged in free love, and goodness knows what else. He was convinced that the College was infested with them! Besides, didn't people at Art schools run around naked? It never occurred to him that the design class was more concerned with putting clothes ON people rather than taking them off. Just as well he never saw Michelangelo's Statue of David, standing in all it's glory at the top of the stairs. He really would have freaked out!

This shows how a totally unfounded opinion can have far reaching effects.

We do need to be allowed to have our opinions, it's what makes us all different and interesting, and mostly, we hold opinions because that's what we really believe and live by. But a person may deliberately CULTIVATE a bad opinion of another, and the reason for that is fear. Fear of being out shone, of seeing the other person as *the opposition*. A rival or competitor.

My daughter needed to drag me down in order to make herself feel more superior. I didn't know it at the time, but she saw me as a rival, and believed she couldn't compete. People run another person down in order to make themselves feel more secure, and since everyone has their own special qualities, it's very sad.

Negative and obstructive opinions stopped me from following what I really wanted to do in life, from exploiting a God given ability. Instead, I was made to feel different and *in the wrong* when I just wanted acceptance.

Julie's negative opinion finally separated us and robbed us both of that special relationship that family members have. I have no idea where my daughter is, or my granddaughter, who is now 29 years old.

We do need other people's opinions, and as anyone who has been involved in brainstorming sessions will agree, other people's ideas can often change our own for the better. But not always.

I still think cricket is good for sending me to sleep, and that football is just a bunch of louts chasing a ball. But that's just my opinion!