Archives for posts with tag: yes I am a feminist

The week finishes with the work day ahead, and then it’s the weekend. The clock seems to tick at a much faster rate working this particular job… Wasn’t it just Monday morning a couple days ago? There is so much in my subjective human experience of life that is so very relative.

Monday already seems so long ago...

Monday already seems so long ago…

I had a delightful lunch conversation with a departing colleague yesterday. I’ll miss her greatly though we’ve really only just begun to get to know each other; she has a “quality of mind” I find engaging and nurturing even to be around. She has a studious gentle wit I greatly enjoy.  Lunch was excellent.

The delights of lunching with a friend were followed by spending the evening with my Traveling Partner. He was waiting for me when I got home, and coming home to his warm smile and his embrace felt so… oh damn. Words fail me. I love coming home to his smile. I don’t know what made last night specifically so special… somehow it was. I’m still smiling. I have a weekend ahead of house-hunting, he has a trip away coming up early next week. Chances are, we won’t see each other again for some days… I’ll probably still be smiling, thinking about last night. lol

Life can be very simple, seemingly effortless, coasting on what is enough, enjoying what feels best, avoiding what is uncomfortable… I like those moments. I cherish them. There is, however, so much more to learn from the hurts, from what is uncomfortable: awkward moments, real talk, hard choices, tough times, books… and each other. I’m enjoying the morning and the week, and it truly seems filled with delights – I’m also aware that life has more to teach me, and that there is more to know. Have I finally grown enough to move beyond crashing on sharp rocky shores of disappointing moments? Will I no longer feel devastated and bereft to face losses? If I catch myself expecting that to be easy, I know I am not paying attention at all. Change is. Tough times occur. There will be losses to face. Disappointments to bear. Moments of struggle. Feelings. There will be all the feelings. All of them.

I smile for a moment, thinking about my 20-something self of long ago, and her unyielding rage and cynicism, wrapping herself in emptiness saying “I feel nothing.” I laugh gently to myself from a perspective of greater understanding, years of experience, and think kindly “Oh, baby girl, you only feel too much. You’re drowning in the feelings. Stop fighting them. Just let go.” Her tears well up in my eyes and spill down my face many years too late for her to heal. I feel the feelings now – and that’s okay, too. It’s even more than okay; it’s enough. What a powerful thing, to feel. Healing takes time. I didn’t understand then how very much time that might be… a lifetime. A life of time. All the minutes I spent on healing – and all the minutes I spent fighting the work involved in that process – and all of the other minutes, too.

I’m still not done growing and learning. There always seems some bit more, just out ahead…  How did I end up here, this morning? Thinking about Women’s History Month, actually. For Black History Month I read about black lives, in the words of black authors, about black life experiences I cannot fathom from my vantage point mired in white privilege.

To educate ourselves we have to step out of our comfort zone.

To educate ourselves we have to step out of our comfort zone.

I do my best to learn and to grow and to be kind and to be understanding – which means learning some things, and exposing myself to discomfort. I read James Baldwin. I read Martin Luther King Jr. I read Malcolm X, which I first read at the tender age of 9; I understand it all quite differently at 53. Now here it is Women’s History Month and I caught myself giving it the brush off “I’m a woman myself… I already read books about women, by women… Nothing to see here…”.  It isn’t the truth of my experience though, in a very important respect; I am only one women, living only one woman’s experience. (And by percentages, I don’t actually read that many books by women.) What about black women? What about Muslim women? What about immigrant women? What about women in science? What about incarcerated women? What about trans women? What about women living in dire poverty? What about women from countries and cultures I know nothing about at all? What about the meta and the metaphor of other women’s lives, experiences, and voices? How dare I look into the eyes of the woman in the mirror and assert a claim that I know enough – even about her?

However many books, however much experience; there is more to learn.

However many books, however much experience; there is more to learn.

There is more to learn. Always more to learn. At no point as it ever been demonstrated that there is an end point to learning. 🙂

This weekend I’ll make a short reading list for March reading. Women’s words. Women’s lives. Women’s greatness. I’m eager to get farther along in our stories – will we change the world?

Funny that the two conversations happened on the same evening, in near-real-time simultaneity, although I didn’t quite notice that until after the fact.

Each moment the only moment.

Each moment the only moment.

One friend reached out to let me know he’s doing better, that things I have shared previously have more value now that he is more able to understand, and that he is more or less generally mostly okay, but… Yeah. I remember smiling to myself as I read his message. I understood the poignant moment of changed hearts. Sometimes the very solo journey through our own chaos and damage, however successful for us, ourselves, however healing and however much growth we experience… it’s not well received by some who love us dearly (or have said that they do). I’ve lost quite a few “friends” along the way; people who were more invested in who I had been than they were willing to accept (or understand) who I am becoming.

These are my choices. This is my life. The decisions about me that matter most are my own. This is as true for you, as it is for me. 🙂

Most of what we think we know about each other we've made up in our own heads.

Most of what we think we know about each other we’ve made up in our own heads.

We’re walking our own mile. This journey, like it or not, is a solo-hike of self-discovery. It may sound a bit existentialist – but we are born alone, we live our experience in a uniquely solitary way (however much we surround ourselves with the busy-ness of other lives), and we will each die alone – even if we are surrounded by our loved ones. We are each having our own experience.

Another friend reached out to me to tell me sternly that I am “in a very dark place” and that my “soul is in danger” and also that he doesn’t know me anymore. That last is a true statement. The rest is internal narrative he’s made up for himself, that meets his own needs, and has nothing whatever to do with me, so no point internalizing any of that.  It probably goes without saying that he doesn’t read my blog. lol My soul is in danger now, but not while I was contemplating suicide after a lifetime of struggling with my PTSD? I’m in a very dark place because my politics lean left and I’m comfortable saying so, and think that the quality of life of people different than me is also worth fighting for? Funny way to conduct a discussion, and I frankly don’t tolerate emotional manipulation or bullying. His choice to end our friendship is surely his own, and although it was a poignant moment, the underlying truths of the conversation are that we don’t see the world similarly, and my views are received as a threat to his perspective.

I went to bed still feeling a little sad about losing a friendship that has existed since 1986. I also felt hopeful and encouraged that another friend was sticking with us in the mortal world, to walk another hard mile, and find his own way. It was a complicated experience, emotionally rich and fairly adult. I slept well and deeply.

I woke feeling content, settled, and emotionally comfortable. I also woke feeling rather acutely aware that of the friendships that have ended over divergent politics in the past 16 or so months, they’ve all been male friends, and all of those friendships have ended on some moment during which I spoke up firmly, and positively, about my values, and stood up for people who are at a disadvantage. In each case, my lack of willingness to argue set off a storm of fury for the friend in question, that could not be silenced or eased except by silencing my own voice, and yielding my own understanding, and negating my own opinion. Each of these friendships ended in some moment when only my full capitulation to their rightness would suffice. Each ended with me feeling bullied or silenced (or at least aware of the attempt to silence me).

I don’t prefer to argue. My mind is not changed through argument or bullying. My thinking is changed through reasoned discourse, with cited references and real data, and being heard. I still recognize facts as things with actual reality, and I’m pretty strict about what qualifies. (I’m dismayed by how much opinion and made up shit people tout as ‘fact’ without even blinking, solely because it sounds true or feels agreeable and fits their world view.) Shouting at me alienates me. Silencing me fuels my resentment, my anger, and creates distance. That’s no way to conduct a friendship. lol

I am, myself, quite entirely made of human, and I am also capable (and at risk) of being hung up on an opinion not well supported in fact, because it sounds true, feels agreeable, and fits my world view. I try to stay on top of that sort of foolishness with plenty of reading, fact-checking, consideration, empathy, new perspective, and wholesome reasoned dialogue with friends more expert in one area or another than I am, myself. I do my best to be the human being I most want to be. I am painfully aware of how little actual value “being right” has, particularly if “being right” is wrecking someone else’s experience, robbing them of opportunities, or generally just creating a shitty world. For a lot of people, “being right” isn’t actually about any sort of factual accuracy, or progress for humanity, it’s only about winning some invisible trophy to hold over others, a way of feeling important or valued, specifically by making others “wrong”. “I’m right and you must succumb to my will!” is toddler bullshit. lol We can do so much better as beings.

Yeah. Pretty far left… and not allowing myself to be shouted down anymore. That can be uncomfortable for friends who liked a different set of characteristics about me – and that’s the point this morning. I am my own person. This life, my life, is about me. No kidding. Even if I give it in selfless service to others, it’s still my own experience of life, and can’t be muted or shouted down or denigrated or dismissed or diminished, without my accepting that experience, and permitting it. I’m walking my own mile, because it’s the journey I’ve got – and it’s mine. I may share some portion of the journey with a friend or a lover, but even then, I’m walking my mile, while they walk theirs. We are each having our own experience. I can’t change that – and in the process of changing who I am, learning to become the woman I most want to be, myself…I’ve lost some friends, who wanted a very different me. Well…but… only sort of. I’ve lost associations with individuals who were fond friends of a woman who is not, now, me. Some friends outlast changes and personal growth, others do not. There are choices involved, and some of those choices are not mine. 🙂 I’m even okay with that.

(It doesn’t matter if I’m okay with that… Reality does not care what we believe, or what we are okay with, and we are each having our own experience. Some of the choices going on around us simple are not ours to make.)

Begin again.

Begin again.

Today is a good day for perspective, for balance, and for walking my own mile. I’ve no ill will for friends I’ve lost over time, and wish only the best for them on their journeys. I’ve grown, so have they, and people change. Being and becoming. This is how we change the world.