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Dear Auntie: Fairytale life doesn’t need to be in your future

Author: 
By J’net AyAy Qwa Yak Sheelth Cavanagh, Windspeaker Columnist
Volume: 
29
Issue: 
3
Year: 
2011

Dear Auntie:
I’ve tried to talk to my boyfriend about my values, and how important it is to me in a committed relationship that we remain faithful to each other, emotionally, as well as sexually, but the discussion seems to be making him uncomfortable. I’ve been cheated on before, and it broke my heart. I don’t want it to happen again, so I need to know before I get too far down the road that we are on the same page. Please, how do I get through to him?
Signed
Never again

Dear Never Again:
I understand and respect your concerns and needs about being in a committed and faithful relationship. Protection from HIV/AIDS is a priority for everyone’s health and creates more appeal for nurturing a commitment.

There is a lot I do not know about your situation, like if there are “red-flags” or “warning signs” with your current boyfriend being unfaithful, or if he brings that kind of history into the relationship.

Or perhaps there is a chance you are being haunted by old emotional shadows of fear, betrayal and mistrust being carried over into a new relationship. I remember learning a couple of acronyms that offer a word for each letter in the word FEAR: Fantasized Expectations Appearing Real. Another is Feel Everything And Recover.
What you need to feel comfortable in a relationship is important.

Your intuition may be telling you this new boyfriend is not ready for a mature relationship. I am not sure it is your job to “get through to him” and be the only one taking a stand for a mutual commitment.

When you ask for what you need, you must be prepared to accept the outcome that could include your boyfriend not sharing your values. There is also a chance you have to make peace with being hurt by the last relationship, and remember: “what we deny, we are condemned to relive.”

Perhaps you may consider a break from relationships and focus on your own interests. Offer yourself some relief from worrying about your relationships all the time.

The “Cinderella” story has become a way of brainwashing generations of little girls that they have to strive to be in a relationship and “live happily ever after.” This propaganda does not calculate personal goals and interests of women who also want to pursue an education and/or career.

Keep a bigger picture in mind and strike a balance with your needs and take time to reflect on what you need from a relationship. Be sure to not waste away on falling in love with someone’s potential. All relationships take work but they do not have to be a fix-it project.

Some may recognize the Serenity Prayer…“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” For relationships to work, both partners must participate and find ways to make each other look good and function with respect.
Lovingly, Auntie


Dear Auntie:
I love my dad, but he’s driving me nuts. Every time we are together he tells the same stories over and over again. How can I tell him that he’s already told me a story without hurting his feelings?
Signed,
Heard It All Before

Dear Heard It All Before:
An elder, the late Wilfred Pelltier from Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, used to share the same idea over and over. “A story dies once written down. You can put it on a shelf and it can be forgotten or destroyed. A story only lives in the re-telling.”

Traditional knowledge is customarily passed down through stories and is coded with meaning and is informed by our understanding. While it is frustrating your dad is continually repeating himself, it is important to remember stories often leave much left unsaid and understanding from the listener makes the exchange complete.

In traditional times, prior to contact and settlement, sharing stories repeatedly with children spanned a lifetime of retelling. Children, youth and young adults would be given important information about what they were and were not doing. Behaviors were corrected with stories when someone was being mischievous or careless.

Stories are rich with often-subtle insights that offer comfort, give warning, explore consequences and share problem solving ideas. With the luxury of time, children grew and so would the understanding of what those stories would communicate.

The arrival of residential schools forced grandparents and parents to share stories the children could easily remember and take with them. Because children were being taken away at such early ages, a new tradition of adding the teachings of what the story meant would be included.

Another elder I met only in passing locked eyes with me in the midst of his story and declared “you may not understand all that I am saying right now, but when the time is right you will make sense of what my story means for you.” Perhaps he picked up on my stunned bewilderment and his words comforted me. Ever since, when I hear a story “again”, I ask myself ‘What am I not understanding yet about this story?’ and give myself permission to reflect on any new meaning that surfaces.

Stories are also rooted in the timing of the telling. This is a chance for you to learn from the eagle’s gift of flying the highest and explore the bigger picture of what is happening when the story is being retold.

You could even ask your dad some questions about who told him the stories he repeats and, finally, make sure to enjoy your dad’s stories while you can! For many of us, with Father’s Day approaching, we are left with only memories of dads who passed on years ago or even only recently.

Editor’s Note: The Ask Auntie column is published for readers’ entertainment and consideration only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Windspeaker or the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society.

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