So one of the (many, many, many) take-aways from recent (and not-so-recent) national events was that I need to write. So I will.
This won’t be me writing about the fear and grief and despondency I’ve experienced over the past year*, emotions that seemed to spill over late Tuesday near midnight as I woke up from a migraine-induced nap just in time to see the results of the election, emotions that continue to hold their grip and feel like they may have no ending.*That writing will come soon.
I won’t reflect on why I left work early Wednesday, unable to spend my usual 7-9 hours trying to heal the pain of others knowing that I needed to take time to heal my own*. I won’t be writing about how I felt like I had no words for my client that came in with fears for their safety due to their gender identity and sexual identity, or a client whose panic attacks re-emerged after having made progress processing the deportation of a parent a few years prior. *That healing will take place.
I won’t be writing about the hypocrisy of right-wing voters, or left-wing voters, or protest voters, or non-voters. *That writing won’t occur..but explanation of why is right below, so keep reading, friends.
Instead, I’ll write about my own (hypocrisy, that is).
Clouds, what? Why not write about your anger? Why focus on your hypocrisy?
Well, because, honestly, that is the only thing I’m 100% certain of. I think part of the reason why the divisiveness has gotten so heavy and hateful is because people are blaming and projecting and assuming intentionality rather than stopping to look inward first. *This doesn’t mean that there isn’t space (and need) for accountability or anger or hurt. It simply means that the person I know the most is me, so I’ll start there.
I’m still wrestling back the tears, even as I write this. In between those moments are moments of fuel and fire, of wanting to educate myself (on all sides) as much as I can, of wanting desperately to be an agent of change, of ordering books on Amazon, listening to podcasts like Politically Re-Active W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu, and watching interview clips of ideologies vastly different from my own like Ann Coulter, of others like Rick Lazio, David Axelrod, David Frum, CNN, CNBC, MSNB FOX, even attempts at comedic spins on this shit with Real Time with Bill Maher or Late Night/Tonight Show/The View.
But I need to know what else I can do. I have this sort of desperation I can’t seem to shake, an urge to find a solution, not necessarily for the global issue at hand (i.e. racism and all the other -isms that have been uncovered throughout recent national events), but more so about the micro-solutions to these issues. I want to scream out loud: tell how to fix it? how do I make change? how do I work toward defending against racism, sexism, xenophobia, prejudice??
But I’ll take pause and look inward for a moment. ((Trust I’m allowing the fuel and fire build and continue to educate myself, but I’d be remiss to ignore my internal processes)).
I’ve written before on my struggle with cognitive dissonance (read about it here) and about not being Bold (read it here). Hell, most of this entire happiness blog is dedicated to me already looking inward…but maybe I need to do more. And I will. Part of that process is getting some of these thoughts down and out first in order to help me get started, and my hope is that you do the same.
Whether it’s the bubble I live in that truly keeps me (mostly) isolated from identifiable prejudice and discrimination or that my naiveté is acting in full force, I don’t (or didn’t before these past few months) see micro- and/or macro-aggressions in my daily life or feel like i had opportunities (read: courage) to call them out. So my first reflection is sorting out the following question: how do I ask others to speak up for injustice when I don’t necessarily have a great track-record for doing the same? (I outline a response to that a bit more fully in this blog, you should pause and click and read…and then come back).
Another area I call myself out on and struggle (with more or less depending on my surroundings) is my faith. I don’t struggle with my faith in the sense that I don’t “know” what I believe. I don’t struggle because i feel “lost” in that sense either. I struggle because many who subscribe to my religion use it to persecute others, to assume they know how others should live, to judge others rather than judging themselves. It hurts to feel like I am complicit by being complacent. I don’t raise my voice against it. *There was an incident recently where an unsolicited opinion was given, in what I considered to be one of my safest spaces: church (as a non-cryer-in-public, I cannot count the times tears have filled my eyes in that space, with no regret or question). This unsolicited outburst happened in the middle of delivering a prayer! That moment hurt. This woman’s unkind words called out and judged a group of people for supposedly judging a group of people!! (…deep breath, Clouds.) Again, this isn’t about the hypocrisy of others, it’s about my own. An air of discomfort and silence filled the church, eventually broken by whispers and uncomfortable snickering. The gentleman next to me turned to me, with a smirk on his face, and said “well, that was unexpected.” I laughed nervously, replied “yup, it was” and smiled. Internally, I was angry and frustrated and embarrassed and felt shame because the difference between my ideologies and this woman’s (and probably many in that space) were made apparent to me in a way I couldn’t ignore…but did. I did nothing.
Again, what (has) helped me feel better is that I’ve (mostly) chosen some pretty great parishes to be a part of, blessed to meet kind beautiful souls that share similar beliefs with regards to kindness and social justice. My question is: is it enough to maintain my beliefs (in my bubble with my chosen friends/family/Sisters), yet not speak out against some of the injustices held firmly by many? My struggle with this aspect becomes more complicated given the depth of my faith. I can wholeheartedly tell you, without hesitation, that I would not be alive today were it not for my beliefs and faith in God. I have come to a beautifully accepting and faithful and hopeful place with my belief system, one that fits for me, one that I do not presume “should” be held by all or is “the right” religion for all. Yet, I hold it for me, unwaveringly. The question of personal versus collective interests feels to throb throughout this struggle…
A final struggle (for now) deals with the tension I’ve probably always experienced with regards to my personality/introversion/anxieties hodgepodge way of interacting with others and my desire for growth. I pride myself in growth and growing and challenging myself. I’m proud of myself for leaning into the fear, allowing myself to turn into the anxiety rather than running away from it. However, I’m also aware that I am nowhere near where I’d like to be and I have great strides to make in these areas. What I learned (and have been learning) is that I am not a fan of confrontation when it involves others. I can go to town when it’s me versus me. But I’ve been averse to conflict and confrontation since I was young (for known reasons I can explore later). I keep quiet. I turn inward. I feel all the feels…but silently. I hear often how it is through discussion with individuals whose ideologies differ from one’s own where some of the greatest growth can occur. And I agree. So my question is: how to I reconcile my introverted empathic sensitive spirit (which I’ve found strength in and don’t want to compromise) with welcoming debate and conflict and expression of differences in ideologies?
Clouds, that’s a lot of reflecting and questions…and not very many answers…
Yes, I know. Answers and, more importantly, growth will come, but this is only possible through reflection, challenge, education, and accountability. My hope is that you do the same with whatever questions you have. The reason for this isn’t to draw you away from your personal or collective fight or celebration or silence or gloating. It isn’t to convince you of my “point” or push you to speak up against injustice. It is to ask that you take a moment to reflect, and challenge, and educate yourself on whatever questions you have struggled with yourself. Again, the best place to begin is within…survival and movement forward follow.