Does Disagreement Equal Diss?

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In the previous post I asserted that words should mean what they originally meant. Over on the Facebook page associated with this blog (which I don’t run or control, and which ironically I don’t have the ability to comment on, since I don’t have a Facebook profile…) people are getting pretty upset with me for  what they perceived to be my bad attitude toward people of certain genders or identities.

That’s interesting to me, since not once in my post did I say anything negative whatsoever about anyone. I said that I didn’t advocate any type of mistreatment of anyone, and when someone on the Facebook page was kind enough to post a link of information regarding definitions of different genders and fluidity of genders and whatnot, the first thing I did was click on it and read it straightaway. I am certainly willing to learn and be educated, but none of what I read changes the fact that I am not a bigot, am not a hateful person, and did not accuse anyone of being a “freak” nor in any way a bad person. I was not attacking anyone on a personal level. I talked about language, which works better if we can agree on common definitions.

I was not trying to offend people- HUMAN people- by critiquing language- WORDS that are not alive. The fact that this has gone so horribly wrong makes me not want to check “my privilege”, as much as I now want to check my sanity.

For what it’s worth, I will say this unequivocally: I apologize if anyone felt personally attacked by what I said . That was not ever my intent.

 

Cis-Blogger in a Non-Cis-World

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A few weeks ago I watched a lecture where the speaker used the term “cis-male”. I had never heard that before, so I googled it to check what it meant. Much to my surprise, it means a person who was born as a male and identifies as a male. Oh. So, uh, a male?

It was a pretty powerful statement to me on the current standards of society that we need a new special term for something that just is what it is. As if we now need to specifically clarify that what you see really is what you get, rather than being able to rely on the assumption that the default in a given situation will be that what lies before us is indeed what lies beneath. My pen is indeed a pen and not a reindeer; therefore it is a cis-pen. That body of water in my backyard is not a vacuum cleaner, so I guess we can now call it our cis-pool…

This whole idea bothers me because words matter. When I order a winter coat online I don’t want to have to read a 47 page disclaimer to understand whether it is actually a tablecloth. I expect it to have two sleeves, a zipper, and be warm enough to get me through a chilly season. If we as a society can’t agree on certain basic definitions as a starting point for discussions, then things devolve into chaos.

And obviously that leads us into touchier, less politically correct, areas.

I want marriage to mean what it has traditionally meant, not because I want to stand in the way of people who love each other being together or having certain rights, but because the word “marriage” refers to a very specific thing and that’s what it means.  A man is a man, not because I am full of a hate, or a bigot or homophobe or anyone a phobe,  or whatever the term du jour is- and I and I most certainly don’t ever ever advocate or condone any violence or mistreatment of anyone , but because, again, a man is a very particular sequence of DNA and you either are that or you aren’t.

There are already plenty of laws on the books for how humans should treat humans. If you want more, advocate for more. But those laws need to deal with actions and behaviours. Because when it comes to playing fast and loose with language, to the point where I have to ask for a mission statement about every word you say, and issue a decoder ring with every sentence I utter, it is the tower of babel all over again.

And that didn’t end so well the first time.

 

 

Prone To Overcorrection

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One of the most un-lovely fallouts from being chronically ill is that my life has become very small in many many ways. To my mind, I am currently in a state of extreme stasis. Equilibrium. I am finally mostly off the roller coaster of constant crashes and ER visits and horrible pain spikes and major health crises. But this has come at a price, and lately I am wondering if the price is too high.

Because I see that my family has become collateral damage to me treating myself like a fragile molecule.

Let me break that down a bit so you can understand what goes on.

I feel mostly rotten about 98% of the time. I am physically uncomfortable in varying degrees, dealing with pain that is either hurty or pretty darn severe 100% of the time.  I feel great never. So I have gotten used to avoiding anything that will exacerbate my pain or discomfort.

The problem is that this gets to be a slippery slope. Things like sitting at the table playing a board game with my kids makes me hurt. My back hurts, my neck hurts, and at some point my head will hurt worse. My nausea will escalate and I will spend the night chasing it down with meds, hoping I don’t throw up. Will I die? No. Will I need medical attention? No. Will it injure me? No. So should I suck it up sometimes and just do it? Probably. And it’s like this with a lot of activities that come up in our daily lives. From taking walks, to going out, to running various errands. If it’s at all a stretch for me I will invariably decline to do it.

I have gotten so sick and tired of feeling awful that I have gotten myself into a space where I will avoid feeling worse at almost any price. My default position is to say no to everything because almost everything makes me feel worse all the time. My life being a narrow spectrum is pretty darn fine with me as long as I just don’t feel any worse than my baseline of mediocre-ly bad. If my base pain level is a 6-7 and I am managing it and hanging on and keeping the house running, I feel like I can’t spare those extra few points on the pain scale to be a more fun mom or a more spontaneous wife.

Except I’m not the only person in the equation.

And that’s something I’ve been forgetting.

That when I say no, no, no, I’m not just limiting myself. I’m cutting off the options for everyone around me. I’m limiting fun for my husband and my kids. I’m making my husband’s world smaller and my kids’ disappointment bigger. My illness takes center stage and my failure becomes larger than life. It’s pay now or pay forever.

So my pain is more managed, but ironically my life is more out of control.

Right now I’m kind of struggling with how to fix that.

If I was a hypochondriac, or merely exaggerating, I could give myself a big fat pep talk and, heck, just smile and cheer on up my way out of this mess!! 🙂

But my pain and sick is for real, and I don’t know how to make that fade enough to not scream in my face every time I try to quiet the noise.

I can do more on “good” days, but the reason I even have “good” days is because I treat myself so gently so much of the time.  For someone who was raised with “push through it” and “no pain , no gain” and “pain is weakness leaving the body”, all of this coddling is downright abhorrent. I literally used to hate and despise myself for not being tough enough to just be un-sick through sheer force of will. But I’m here to tell you, whether it’s a failure or not, all these years later, I simply cannot do it. I haven’t been able to overcome it, and it is what it is. I still can’t stand it, but I don’t seem to have a choice.

And my family’s along for the ride.

The question is, how do I make this ride as comfortable as possible for all of the passengers, now that I am reminded that I driving a bus and not a unicycle?

 

 

 

 

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

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I once knew someone who claimed to be a sex addict.

To my ears, this sounded like an excuse for poor behavior and carte blanche to indulge in things that polite society would consider unacceptable. I should probably confess now, though, that I in general suffer from a quickness to judge and a tendency to think I’m right even before I think things through all the way.

But recently this topic came up again and it got me thinking. There seem to be so many people who are searching for something. You hear about sex addictions and spread of diseases in spite of all types of education campaigns and, perhaps most troubling, very young children doing all sorts of sexual activities- often with multiple partners and sometimes right in school…

Between explicit music lyrics and movies with adult content but child-friendly ratings, there is clearly no lack of sexuality around. So it isn’t sex people are missing.

I think it’s love.

I think people are just plain lonely.

And I think in a classic error, people searching to feel Love, will instead settle for feeling love. Rather than holding out for the true emotion, people will grab hold of the fleeting sensation. After all, it’s so much easier.

But what is easily gained is easily lost, so people jump from encounter to encounter, ever in hopes of finding something that will stick, and rather than classifying themselves as Hope Addicts, they go with the much more hip sounding ‘sex addict‘.

It’s so sad that we as a society find ourselves in a place where a whole generation is so full- of materialistic possessions, of activities to fill our time, of comfort unknown to previous generations- yet so empty that we can’t seem to fill our emotional buckets.

I don’t have a solution. I think every generation has something defining that shapes its coming-of-age. I fear that this generation’s struggle may be a profound, soul-wrenching loneliness. It’s important when looking at a problem to at a minimum correctly label it before you can address it.

So maybe this is step 1?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Judging How Much You Judge Me

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My son recently joined a gym where they place a certain amount of emphasis on not judging other people. In theory, I think it’s a nice idea not to be judgy (especially in a gym, where people could be intimidated to work out if they feel like people are watching them and sizing them up).

But as with most things, what starts out as a nice idea can take on the force of religious fundamentalism if one isn’t careful. ‘Hey, don’t comment on someone else’s weight’ too easily slides into things like,

“We’re sorry but we overheard you telling someone that you liked their t-shirt. Unfortunately we have a no judgement policy here, and that was a judging statement…”

In real life we have the power of discernment. When used correctly and judiciously (such a judgy word!) it helps us to navigate the world more successfully. It is quite appropriate to make decisions about things, from what cutlery to use with which course in a restaurant to whether or not to give money to a homeless person based on your judgement. Without judging there would be significantly more traffic accidents (and fatalities!), less if any people hired for new jobs (or at least many less successful candidates), and probably a whole lot of frustrating relationships with the wrong people.

Judging serves so many useful purposes and we do it so many times each day I’m surprised it was ever allowed to get such a bad wrap. It’s as if someone said to everyone in America (or the Western World) “Blinking? That’s just horrid and offensive! People shouldn’t do that! Especially in public and especially around other people!” And everyone en masse jumped on board and said “Yes!! We heartily agree! Blinking Baaaaaad!”

I understand that it is bad form to be a judgemental idiot. But I think that in polite society that sort of goes without saying. Along the lines of yes you can drive but not on the sidewalk and not where there are pedestrians. Yes you may curse in your home if that’s what you do but not in public and not around other people’s children. Yes you may eat stinky food but please brush you teeth and don’t breathe directly into someone else’s face. That sort of thing. Can’t we all just get along?

And for goodness sake, stop judging me!

 

 

Burkini Bans- Or How Many Fools Can You Fit On The Head Of A Pin?

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There is an issue that has wound its way up through the French Courts about whether Muslim women in France could wear something on public beaches known as a “burkini”.  This garment, which looks remarkably like a tunic shirt and leggings, would not be offensive by anyone’s standards, and if the political climate right now was not overly prickly toward Muslim terrorists (and with very good reason), I daresay there would be no issue at all.

Some people would argue that, NO! This is a defense of women’s rights! No woman should be forced (!) to cover any part of her body at all! Women should be free (!) to let it all hang out- both literally and figuratively. And any covering of any part of any woman’s body is a sign of oppression of women.

This makes several critical assumptions, of course. One is that the women who are covering are in some way being coerced, either subtly or outright, into wearing these burkinis (whose comparison to a burka is laughable). One is that a state of semi, or nearly total nudity implies freedom, and is not evidence of its own coercion- either by a significant other, or by societal pressure. That caving into the prevailing fashion of baring one’s flesh in public implies that you are free to follow that trend and not that you feel pressured to capitulate to that trend. And the final assumption is that even if one woman would be truly oppressed by having to cover herself against her will, then that would somehow have implications for every other woman and her status as a free and equal functioning member of society. Which of course if no more true than saying that if one person has to give up caffeine because of migraines then it will put Starbucks sales in jeopardy for the rest of the nation. Preposterous.

It’s an interesting commentary on society that it is almost inconceivable that a woman might actually WANT to cover up a bit. That a woman may prefer NOT to be a spectacle when she is enjoying a beach outing. That perhaps, just maybe, she might want to go to the beach, alone or with her family, and enjoy the breeze and the waves and the water and the calm and not have to be ogled by every man within 500 yards of her as she walks around. Am I saying that all men are gross and predatory? No, of course not. But a beach trip shouldn’t have to feel like a meat market, and if a woman feels more comfortable in whatever she wants to wear, why should someone PROHIBIT her from wearing what makes her feel relaxed? As long as it doesn’t pose a threat to safety, who cares? If it was a white woman in a sarong, would anyone have said something? If it was a teenager in a sweatshirt and shorts, would anyone have minded? Does a maxi dress with a cardigan raise alarm bells? Or an actual tunic top with leggings?

The point is that once again, in the guise of protecting people from themselves, do-gooders have actually attempted to strip people of their rights. Under the heading of protecting women, the French government instead would infantalize woman and say that they are incapable of acting in their own best interests. That it is a more enlightened and wise decision to get naked (or practically so) along with the other French citizens, and to not do so implies a level of backwardness and threat to the moral and civic order which simply cannot and will not be tolerated.

For now, the burkini has been protected. This is a victory for Muslims, yes. But more important than that, it is a victory for people who value their individuality on French beaches. Truth be told, I never let my kids take off their shirts at beaches- for modesty, for sunburn, and honestly, whose business is it why?  It’s my family and if we want to wear ski gear on the beach that’s our darn business. As long as my kids won’t drown in the water we should be able to wear portable igloos or tutus or rainbow body glitter. And the government should mind its own beezwax.

That’s just my 2 cents.

 

 

 

 

On being an invalid, but not invalid

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First off, hello from Michigan, and I’m sorry it’s been a while. It’s good to see you are all still hanging in here with me- thanks, and I appreciate it 🙂

I’m never quite sure why people subscribe to this blog (I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way; I mean that I discuss various topics and I don’t know which grabs people. Is it always the garden story, or are there other reasons? My secret hope is yes…) I hope that whatever your reason for being here, you will indulge me a chronic illness post- even after such a long  hiatus in posting. One of the things that continues to amaze me in Michigan is the contrast between my life here and my life in Seattle. Nothing inherently bad about Seattle, but there I constantly was reminded of my limitations. There were so many ways that my functioning was compromised there that I often felt… For lack of a better way of saying it, like the walking wounded. My life in Seattle got very very small.

Although it had been in Michigan that I was in a wheelchair, in Michigan that I used a walker, in Michigan that I was a frequent flier in the local ER- in Seattle I felt like an invalid. And while I was contemplating things to write for this post I realized that the word in-vuh- lidd is the same as the word in- vah-lidd. And that’s how I felt. Invalid. Invalidated. Cancelled out.

My life started to be defined more by what I couldn’t do than by what barriers I was willing to smash. I stopped leaving the house (not that I’m a very out and about person, but this was a dysfunctional kind of not going out). I stopped eating (yes, it was awesome to lose weight, until my kids cried and told me they thought I needed to be in a hospital). I stopped doing much of anything not because I was depressed, but because I felt like what I was up aginst in the big sense was just so insurmountable. I could enumerate the obstacles, but I’d rather not.

Fast forward to Michigan.

Last week we went berry picking at a u-pick orchard. I took one of my kids shooting. I can go shopping any time I want, because I know where everything is, I know how to get places, and I am comfortable and confident navigating the roads.

I still have plenty of bad days and I’m on a u-haul worth of medication. In order to do a little I rest a lot. I have a ton of doctors and I have to say no to my kids more than I am able to say yes when they ask me to do stuff.

But I’m happy here. I feel capable. I feel functional (even if that sometimes isn’t objective reality hahahahaha). I feel like I have something to contribute .

And even as an invalid, that is pricelessly validating.

 

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