Us vs. Them

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite sayings was, “Stand for something, or step aside.” It gave me a powerful image of what it meant to be alive on this earth right now. The problem was, most of the time, the ideas and opinions I had, the things I wanted to stand for, were in direct opposition to most of the people around me, and so I kept them hidden. I was not standing for anything at all, I was stepping aside. No, even worse, I was standing there while they walked right over me.

I’ve always known I was different from my family, and from a lot of the people I grew up with. From a very young age. Before I knew why, before I could articulate any of it, before I knew it was ok to forge my own road. I just knew, on some level, that I didn’t quite fit in.

It started becoming more apparent sometime in my teens. When things that people said in church didn’t make sense. When the things we did in church didn’t make sense. And no one had a real answer for me. I started to feel I didn’t fit in the way that they expected me to.

And around this time, I started to have close friends come out to me. And I had a group of people over there telling me I needed to turn my back on those friends. And me not understanding, and not wanting to. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to fit in the way they expected me to.

When I started to mature and move into adulthood, and I found myself wondering why expectations were so much lower for women. Why women seemed to get the raw deal on a lot of things. And the people I knew and trusted told me that was just the way the world worked. Men were stronger, smarter, more trustworthy. They belonged in the positions of power. This was a message that was actually conveyed to me as a young woman. And it was not the 1950s. I knew on a gut level that it wasn’t right.

And after I moved out on my own, and started to see the real world with my very own eyes, without this sheltered cover of everyone else’s opinions over everything, I felt like I was finally seeing clearly, and I could finally form my own opinions, and feel and think however I wanted to. I started getting answers to my questions. Answers I hadn’t expected. Answers I knew I couldn’t go and tell those people from my past, it would only make them turn away from me more.

Of course, the Christian guilt lasts for a long time. A very long time. It never goes away, truthfully. So, I still have a pretty difficult time, even now, actually voicing those opinions, making them clear to anyone. I feel that the burden is on me to keep the peace, not hurt anyone’s feelings, not start any trouble. I know I have every right to my opinions, but I’m never made to feel that way, by the people who are supposed to love me. I’m sitting in a mini panic attack right this very minute at the thought of publishing this piece. The backlash that will follow.

And while this election is not the first time I’m feeling completely shunned from just about everyone I knew and loved growing up, it is certainly becoming the worst example and the most hurtful situation.

Everyone has taken to social media in the new year like a dog foaming at the mouth, and posting all kinds of hateful, divisive (and often inaccurate and false) statements, messages and pictures. I have purposely avoided posting this sort of thing myself because a) there’s no actual point to it, and b) it only serves to hurt, divide, enflame, incite. I don’t believe in doing any of those things. Ever. It makes me realize I’m not getting the same respect and dignity I so often give to everyone else. I don’t treat your political opinions like a pile of poo left by a puppy, and rub your nose in it until you feel awful for just…being. But, I do feel like that’s what keeps happening to me.

I was browsing Facebook the other day, and unfollowing people who posted these sorts of things. And I found myself unfollowing people I didn’t want to. And lots of people. And I didn’t want to unfollow family, or have my feed turn into one big echo chamber of all the people saying only the things I wanted to hear. I want diversity of opinion in my feed. I want good, healthy discussion. But…where has it gone? Where has civil discourse run off to? Are the days gone where we could just state an opinion and it wouldn’t get much more attention and response than a couple of thumbs up?

I urge you to stop and think before you say something or repost something. Who is on the other end of this? Who will see this? Do I have friends or family members that might be hurt by this? I’m not talking about “offended” here. Being offended is typical of most of the people who will disagree with you. Being offended is a fleeting feeling, and can be solved by answering back with your own opinions. Being offended is fixable, and often it passes on its own.

No, I’m talking about real, actual emotional hurt. Knowing that a member of your own family, who knows you and knows what you’re about, would go ahead and post something anyway, something that insults you personally. It’s about people like you, and whether they intended to or not, it was aimed at you.

I urge you to watch yourself more carefully. Watch what you say, watch what you post, think about what you are saying actually means, in a big picture sense. I don’t just mean people who think differently than I do, I’m talking about everyone, even those who agree with me. This goes both ways. There are ways to have opinions, express those opinions, and still be tactful, civil, and kind.

It’s easy to have an opinion. It’s even easier to state it in a way that’s completely insensitive and insulting. And it’s even easier still to shut down someone who might try to discuss it with you. We have to try harder. This is how we’ve gotten where we are today as a country: completely divided, almost exactly in half. No one can side with anyone else on any issue, no real problems will actually get solved, if we can’t learn how to discuss things, and find a middle ground.

I have felt the hurt a little more each day since inauguration. I have had to go entire days without using Facebook at all (which isn’t a difficult sacrifice, but I did used to enjoy keeping in touch with family and friends) because my anxiety was spiking, I literally couldn’t take it.

I hope it gets better soon, and social media can be fun again. But, the way things have progressed, I don’t see it happening. Unless we consider our actions before acting out, ponder our words before saying them. Unless we choose to do something, it will only get worse.

We’re all fine.

That’s basically all I want you to take away from this post. This is the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I started this whole thing. We’ve all been sick since Thanksgiving (well, not Ferris, breastfed baby immune systems FTW!) and I’ve been trying to cram in some holiday shopping. I’m usually done with all my present shopping before Thanksgiving, but this year I’m just getting started. YIKES. Family members reading this: your gifts are likely to be late.

Anyway, excuses, excuses. I’m here, I’m fine (or I will be when this runny nose and cough finally leave), I plan on blogging in the future. Hope everyone else is staying well, staying warm and having a great holiday season.

A Wager

Not really a wager. I don’t like to gamble. But, we started a little family betting pool this morning: When Will Baby Brother Come Out?

Daddy says Saturday.

Mommy says Sunday, since baby has been playing this pregnancy by the book the whole time.

Bowie says, and I quote, “In one week.” Thanks, kid.

I was really hoping against all hopes that he’d come before 7:30 last night, to get me out of having to speak in front of the whole preschool community at a meeting. But, no such luck. So, now I’m just waiting it out.

There is a finite end to all of this, I just have to remember that. Because of the diabetes, they’re cuttin’ him off of the amniotic at 41 weeks. So, this will all be over and done with by the 23rd or 24th. But, after all this time, thinking about tacking an extra week onto things is torturous.

What do you think, Internet? Place your bets! I will try to think of some fun prize for anyone who might guess it right.

 

About the Size of a Lime

That’s how big my baby is.

Yep, my baby. I’m 12 weeks preggo as of last weekend.

I was really stressing out about when and how and why to come out to the Internet about my pregnancy. While I could not be more thrilled to be pregnant again, I’m also about as anxious as I think one human being could be. Especially since it’s been 2 weeks since my last doctor’s appointment, and I don’t get to go back for 2 more weeks. I need more reassurance than that.

I also thought getting pregnant again would just fix all of my feelings of loss and grief and fear, and everything would be right with the world again. Not exactly so. For a while, my feelings actually intensified; hormones I suppose. And then I felt guilty, like I was so fixated on conceiving this baby that I might forget the baby I lost. (I’ve since realized that’s just not going to happen.) And now, I worry all the time that things will turn out the same way again, I can’t seem to settle into reality mode and be happy.

But, I want everyone who was there for me during the miscarriage and the grieving process to also be able to celebrate with me. And maybe telling more than just our parents and siblings will help make things seem more real. Thank you all for your support, here’s to the future. And here’s to my little lime. (This is reminding me how much I miss margaritas.)


Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com

Group Therapy: The Self-Deprecation

The first few weeks of 2012 have not been kind to some of my friends, family and acquaintances. But, they’ve been going swimmingly for me, and my little corner of the universe.

Which has really taught me a lesson about myself lately: I find it hard to be happy when others are not.

There’s a Woody Allen joke, “I can’t enjoy anything unless everybody is. If one guy is starving someplace, that puts a crimp in my evening.” And, I think that’s what I’m trying to say. I can’t be happy if everyone’s not happy.

Which is just ridiculous because, take a look around. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever live to see a day when everyone is happy.

So, I’m trying to by happy for myself, even if I can’t be happy for everyone in my life. I can still be there to support them, I can still be there to love them. It’s not as if I’m showing up on their doorstep saying, “My life is so much better than yours right now!”

I’m sure there were times in those people’s lives when they were happy, and I wasn’t. In fact, I can think of several examples to that effect. But, I never resented anyone for it. I told myself, “It’s not their fault that I’m not happy.”

So, then why would I also say to myself, “Why should I be happy when they are not?” Doesn’t make any sense.

I’m not huge on resolutions, I find them hard to make and harder to keep. But, I suppose this can be mine for 2012: Don’t be afraid to give myself credit and allow myself to be happy.

A Very Bloggy Christmas

Our holiday consisted of a Christmas Eve with friends, appetizers and plenty of beer and wine, followed by a Christmas day with family and friends, more appetizers and tons of champagne. Also, an amazing, fantastic Boxing Day crab feast, provided by my sister-in-law.

Bowie got some (i.e. 50) Hot Wheels cars and a cool race track with a “hoopty-hoop”(how he says “loopty-loop”) which he played with all morning long.

Hope your holidays were/are filled with all the love, joy and priceless memories they should be.

Thankful 2011

Every Thanksgiving, in both families, we all go around and say something we are thankful for. My responses are usually inane, thought of on the spot, and not really all that heartfelt. I’m thankful I didn’t get that cold Bowie had last week. I’m thankful our plane travel went smoothly. I’m thankful I get to eat this yummy food.

But this Thanksgiving season, I find myself thankful for things in a way I never have been before in my life.

For starters, we’re able to travel to Wisconsin this year, the first time in two years, for Thanksgiving festivities, which are a pretty big deal in both families. It’s always a hassle to travel that week, and quite expensive. Add a small child to the mix…it’s enough for even the most seasoned traveler to say, “forget it.” But, once we are there, it’s fantastic to see loved ones, stuff our faces with grub and feel the cold weather on our cheeks again, just so we remember why we love California so much.

And, I’m still really bummed about my miscarriage after all this time. I’m getting to the point where a negative pregnancy test doesn’t send me into fits of misery for days on end, but I truly thought I’d be pregnant by the time my would-be due date rolled around (Nov. 19). And, since I’m not, it stings just that much more this month. But, now that the day has passed, I feel kind of relieved too. I woke up on the 20th and thought, “Well, I survived.” It might seem strange that I feel that way, but it is significant that the time I would have been pregnant has now passed. It’s like I’m through the thickest part. Not over it by a long shot, but through the worst of it. I’m thankful to have just a bit of weight off my shoulders.

I’m also at the point in this whole experience where I am just so grateful that I have Bowie. There were a handful of people that, upon hearing about my miscarriage, would say, “Well, at least you have Bowie!” Which at the time I thought was a little insensitive. I mean, yes, I do have an awesome kid already. But, I still lost something. And that’s to be acknowledged.

But after a while I kind of got the gist of what they meant. He truly and wholly has been my warm sunshine in this cold, grey world. Without him, I’m uncertain I’d have survived this ordeal. And I mean that literally. There are days I’d have only climbed out from under the covers to refill my wine glass and grab more chocolate if I didn’t have that sweet boy depending on me. So, for that, I’m eternally grateful. Any siblings he has or does not have in the future, I will never forget how his bright, smiling face made me feel during this time.

I’ve also been watching friends go through some major relationship turmoil this past year. I made an attempt to joke about it on Twitter, saying something to the effect of, “I guess we’re at the age when our friends are all getting divorced.” But, I got a zillion responses from other people who have this happening too, and it’s really not funny at all. Just so sad, and one of those situations where you’d step in and do anything and everything you could to help, but there’s really nothing you can do. Huz and I have our moments, and the difficulties we’ve been through lately have been rough. But, we still love each other, when it comes down to it. And I’m very grateful to have him a part of my life, someone to cling to when the world is threatening to blow me down.

I’m also guilty of not being so grateful each and every day that I have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mother, and that we get to live in a nice house in a super cool city. There are so many people suffering right now at the hands of our crappy economy, and we’ve tightened the purse strings, and have put off large purchase (i.e. house) plans for a while, but we can’t forget how fortunate we really are.

Yes, this year I think I finally understand true gratitude. Maybe that means I finally grew up?

Nah.

Christmas in San Francisco

I have not spent a Christmas in the Midwest in, I think, 6 years. We’ve made a couple of Thanksgivings, but never Christmas. And normally, come about, say, December 15, I would be a puddle of depressed goo on the ground, just wishing the holiday would come and go already, gah.

I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that, in our old neighborhood, the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations were…scant. In a couple of the houses that had nice, big windows (and superb views of downtown and the bay, luckies) you could see their giant, perfectly decorated Christmas trees. Otherwise, it felt as if we were the only ones who were celebrating that year, with our tiny, fake, very Charlie Brown Christmas-like tree.

The other problem is…it doesn’t snow here. You’d be surprised how quickly a Wisconsin girl will consider 40 degrees to be “really cold”, yet how long it can take that same Wisconsin girl to get used to the idea of “winter” with no snow. I still recall our second year living in California, when we trucked it up to Tahoe in February with some friends, and I secretly spent the entire first day reminding myself that it wasn’t Christmas, even though it was snowing. Not that I ever even liked snow, I so did not! I see the Wisconsin blizzards on the news and think, “hahaha remember when I used to have to deal with that stuff.” Yet somehow my brain still thinks winter equals snow. The human brain is a very complex thing.

Anyway, I don’t know if it’s because enough time has passed that maybe I’m ok with it, or that so very many of our new neighbors have gone all out with their decorations, or that this is the first year Bowie is really starting to understand Christmas, but this year I finally feel like I am home for the holidays. We will be here with just a few friends and family members (and I am used to GIANT family gatherings) but I am, for once, excited about it.

I do miss everyone at home, though, don’t get me wrong. I will still wish on Christmas day that you were here with us to celebrate, but I will have myself a merry little Christmas anyway. Finally.

Loss. And Gain.

My husband’s uncle passed away last Monday evening, suddenly and fairly young. And I’m not sure what was harder, grieving or watching him and his family grieve.

I boarded the plane to Chicago thinking, “All right, I just have to make it through a funeral with a 15 month old, that’s all. Then we’re back home.”

But, what I had forgotten was I have known my husband’s family nearly as long as I’ve known him, about 8 years now. And they’re a very tight-knit family. And they brought me in immediately, from day one. His uncle included.

So, when we arrived and attended the wake, it hit me like a ton of bricks. But, the kiddo was remarkably well-behaved. Almost as if he knew. And thank the Lord for that. It was so wonderful to have my family there. And now, more than ever, I know that they are my family.