My sister-in-law and I have different personalities. Our one commonality is being married into the same family. The last phone conversation we had stemmed from a final attempt at building a long-distance relationship, so that family events wouldn’t feel like two strangers meeting for the first time. This is how it went.
SIL: Kathy, you’ve always been rude and mean to me.
Me: Really? How was I rude and mean to you the last time we saw each other?
SIL: You didn’t say anything to me and you didn’t want to listen to my advice about Kesi’s hair.
Me: You’re right. I didn’t say anything because whenever I do, then you call me rude and mean and when I don’t say anything, you still call me rude and mean. But, it’s funny cause you always tell me to be myself.
SIL: <sigh> Well, I’m not going to tolerate rude behavior.
And she shouldn’t. But after lots of overthinking, it seemed that my SIL wanted me to be myself in ways that pleased her. The 2011 visit we’d discussed is when I tried something different and said very little. I thought it would keep conversations peaceful.
However, it backfired because in essence, for me to speak few words is not me…at…all.
Our phone conversation revealed how I’d stopped being myself to appease her for no reason. Her perception of me remained. From that day forward, I’ve learned to be myself, regardless of others’ positive or negative opinions.