My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What Matters Most?

Over the years, disappointment, depression and pain have made me less social than I used to be. It's hard on me, both emotionally and physically, to get out and about. It's also hard to disappoint people if I make plans that I end up not being able to keep so usually I don't bother even making plans.  I am also not as outspoken as I was when I was younger. I've learned that sometimes it's just easier to not share every thought that comes to mind in order to avoid conflict. As time goes by I find that even if I don't share the exact same ideals and principles and political opinions with people, we can still be friends. I also find that in many cases I value those with opposing views so much that I wouldn't want to say anything that might be hurtful to them. I'm really just not into conflict, it's as simple as that.

Then the other day I made an observation on Facebook that went something like, "So... Caitlyn Jenner and the white chick who pretended to be black have inspired me. I've decided that I identify as thin. I will need you to ignore my buddha rolls and double chin because the inner me is a size two. That's just who I am, y'all." making light of the concept of not being happy in the skin you're in.

And I got 99% positive response for it except for this one girl who took exception with me poking fun at Caitlyn Jenner. This wasn't someone who was simply an acquaintance. This is a girl that I've known since she was a teenager. Her best friend came out to me. For awhile there my home resembled a refugee camp for gay teenagers all of whom were loved unconditionally. I went with this girl to her (and my) first Gay Pride parade. Of all people who should know my heart for the LGBT community, she, more than anyone, should know. Long story short... she tried the whole social shaming thing on me and everyone else either ignored her or rebuffed her and she ended up deleting all of her comments and me as a friend.

From a practical manner it doesn't change my life at all. I haven't seen her in probably ten years and although we spent time together in the past, we've always been at different stages in life. She lives a long way away and I don't travel well. There are very few people who don't live here in Northeast Georgia that I've seen in the past few years. For that matter there aren't many people who DO live up here that I've seen in awhile. I don't get out much.

Her reaction doesn't change my life but it did get me started thinking about the bit of truth behind my "just kidding". Most jokes do have some measure of truth behind them. The truth is that I gave two examples of people who have chosen to change their exterior to match what they feel is their true self. While Bruce Jenner is undergoing the more dramatic change to become Caitlyn, Rachel Dolezal carried out a larger deception about her true race to become who she felt she was. Without judging either one as right or wrong, is it that far-fetched to say that almost all of us have something about the shell we're in that we would want to change if we could? That was the point I was trying to make.

My friend took huge offense at my inclusion of Caitlyn Jenner in my comment because she knows people who are in Caitlyn's position of not feeling like the body they live in matches who they feel like on the inside. She deleted her comments or I would give you her direct quote but basically the premise was that transgendered/transexual people have it worse (I guess) than, for instance, someone who is overweight. And... apparently... their cause is more noble than, for instance, someone whose entire life has been changed due to crippling arthritic and chronic pain. Who gets to decide which "dysfunctional outer shell" is more traumatic than another's?

What bothers me the most about this argument is the idea that certain social groups demand priority over everyone else. I didn't start out making a comment about the painful part of my existence. Instead I tried to make it funny by making about being overweight because EVERYONE KNOWS that it's ok to joke about being fat. Or, like my friend Purple Michael did, about being poor... because it's ok to joke about people not being where they want to be financially. I just don't understand why it's ok to joke about those things... or about Rachel Dolezal pretending to be black.... but not ok to joke about people who feel like they identify with a different gender than the one they were born with. Especially when you carry it out to the extent that resounds most deeply with me, living in a body that can't do what I want it to do. Does gender identity rank higher than disability? Who makes that decision?

As I mentioned, I used to be much more outspoken that I am now. Part of my self imposed censorship comes from a desire to avoid conflict but if I'm being honest, as the years pass and I am exposed to more diverse situations and circumstances, my perspective has evolved- matured even. The older I get, the more I realize that I don't know as much as I thought I did. I used to feel one way about interracial relationships but then my brother married a lovely African-American woman and I saw that love didn't have to be confined within one race. I didn't understand gay folks until I met Purple Michael and spent time with him and realized what a wonderful dimension he added to my life. I was firmly in the "get over it" camp when it came to people with depression but then... I became depressed and realized it's not that simple. I used to malign people in my life who missed out on things due to pain and then one day four years ago I woke up in pain that has only gotten progressively worse. Life has a way of changing our hearts and minds, doesn't it? It's important to love beyond what you understand and it's also important to love those who don't understand you.

We should be open to growth but not liquid. Don't change to fit whatever container or circumstance you are in currently but bend often enough that you are not so brittle that any wind of change could cause you to break. People are not attracted to piety, they're attracted to humility.

Some years ago I heard a quote that really stuck with me... "live your life in such a way that if anyone says anything bad about you, no one else will believe it." I have to tell you, although I was hurt by my friend's rebuke and sad to have someone consider me "unworthy" of friendship, it felt good to have people stick up for me and my motives. It feels good to know that there are many people who believe the best of me. It makes me want to live up to their opinion. If you look for faults in others you will surely find it. If you believe the best about others, you are more likely to be surrounded by people who believe the best about you. These people become mirrors to reflect our best intentions back to us. And while I applaud the courage it takes to transform the outer shell to match who you are on the inside, it's the inside that really matters most, isn't it?

Love and hugs, y'all.


monique said...

Your "friend" just didn't get it and it sounds like they seriously
over reacted.
I think it's funny and I now consider myself a size 2 too. Why not?

Wendy in Oz said...

I saw the FB post. Your friend was out of line and totally over the top with her comments. Knowing now that she has known you for many years makes it even worse. Obviously she is going through a tough time in her life right now and lashed out - at you! She was so very wrong in her comments and idealism. Everybody else took it for the lighthearted comment that it was.
Love ya Miss

Anonymous said...

And this, ladies and ladyboys, so that you will know and your children will know, is why I love my Heather. (Fade to black) Love, Purple Michael