Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Push on

I suppose I should say something profound about the end of the year 2013, but the truth is? I have nothing profound to say. This is not unusual. As I'm entering into my eighth (!!!!) year of blogging, I realize that most of the time what I have to say is average on the best of days and downright craptacular on the worst. That's okay.

For a while I was blogging for everyone but me. I avoided saying douche and ass and dickfaced whore and all the things I say all the time in real life because I didn't want to offend anyone. I stopped talking about certain topics because I felt exposed and vulnerable. I wasn't as open about certain things. Seven years ago I would have freely admitted that I wept for two hours yesterday, wept like my heart was broken, because I don't have a baby with Jason and never could. Today, I feel awkward saying that. I've deleted and rewritten that one sentence five times. Not because it isn't true, but just because I worry about what people will think of me, at thirty-eight, still weeping over something that I obviously was never meant to have. I worry that people will think I'm weak or pathetic. I worry that I'm telling too much. Most of all, I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me.

People were negative and mean and I've cried more times than I care to admit when reading a nasty review of my blog or my book or anything else I've written or been involved in. I tried to be a better writer. Tried to be more positive and friendly and less...honest. I didn't talk about how much certain things sucked. About how very alone I feel so very much of the time. About how a lot of my decisions, while in the long-term will be good ones, are so, so tough in the day-to-day.

All of that is well and good and saying less is probably among my wiser decisions as the internet is forever and ever, but honestly? None of this feels particularly right to me. I always feel like I'm holding back, and I guess I am.

So, today on the last day of 2013, I want to share three things with you that have made me think this year.

A dear, dear friend of mine is gay. I care about this exactly zero percent, because...I can't figure out why I would. I wouldn't care if my friend was straight, so I don't know why I would care if he was gay. However, being gay has been a big topic in the media this past year what with people shrieking about sin and going to Hell and lifestyles whatnot, and for some reason we were talking about it at one point (I think during the Chick-fil-A scandal) and he said (and I'm paraphrasing here, sorry), "I don't understand why people think being gay is a choice. Why on Earth would I choose this? My family disowned me. People hate me because of who I love. I get talked about like I'm scum. People openly mock me and tell me I'm going to Hell. Who would choose this?"

I thought that was profound. I also find it really super sad that his family doesn't talk to him when he's the only one among them that hasn't been married twelve times or fathered a bunch of illegitimate children or been in jail. He's just a normal guy who pays taxes, has a job, does volunteer work, helps people and sits on the couch at night watching Jeopardy with the person he loves and his dog.

As you know if you've been reading this blog for a while, my ex-husband is dead. He died at the age of thirty-five. I hadn't seen him in years when he died, and he didn't have anything to do with my children. Like, at all.

I'm mostly okay with him being dead. I certainly can't change it. Sometimes I feel a profound sense of sadness that anyone would be thirty-five and dead. Sometimes I look at my son and daughter and feel an even more profound sense of sadness that he never got to know them. I can't imagine my life without them. I know his experience was different, as he clearly did have a life without them. But still. I just can't wrap my brain around it.

He has a mother, and she's still alive. She's never reached out either and she's done some things that perhaps were less than reputable through the years. Still, I cannot imagine this woman's pain at losing her son. Her only son. I look at my son and cannot imagine not having him in my life, every single day. Same with my daughter. I cannot imagine the pain this woman must feel.

Even though I have not heard from her in many years, last year for some reason that I still don't really understand I had some copies made from our family photo session and sent them to her, along with a card. She sent back cards to the children, one to each. They both said something vague like, "Oh that's nice." They kept the cards though, I noticed.

This year I sent a card again. Our card this year was a picture of my son and daughter together with Ginger. She sent them more cards and in one of them she wrote how happy she was to have that picture.

I don't know why I did this, honestly I don't, but that night I sat down at my computer, pulled every single photo file I had over to Snapfish and made her a thirty-five page book filled with pictures of my son and daughter from age 4 until now. Not until later did I doubt myself. Will she even care? Why am I doing this, really? I just did it. I just kept adding pictures. I whipped out my debit card and hit enter before I could stop myself.

I checked the delivery confirmation. She got it on Christmas Eve. She may never acknowledge it, and that's okay. I hope she liked it though.

Not long ago, and not for the first time, I heard someone very young say something wildly, inappropriately racist.

I ignored it.

They said it again, and then a third time. I was extremely uncomfortable and my son, my fifteen year old son, said, "Dude. That's racist. Stop."

While I'm so freaking thrilled that my kid does not tolerate that kind of nonsense, I'm so ashamed of myself for not saying anything. My kid has told other kids, more than once, to not say "retarded" or "fag" or use the word gay as a slur. My kid has, pointedly, told another kid to shut up because they were questioning someone else's disability and the disabled person was uncomfortable and ashamed.

My kid learned this from me. I promise you he did. Yet, when push came to shove? I stood there and said nothing. Because I didn't want to make waves. I didn't want any more drama.

I was wrong. I was wrong for not kindly pointing out that it was racist and we don't tolerate that in our house. I was wrong for getting up and leaving the room when I was being berated for being tolerant of the views of others. I was wrong for not saying things like, "Please don't call someone that ugly name" or "Please don't be insulting."

My silence could possibly be mistaken for agreement. Which is probably also why my MIL continues to send me emails of a political nature that I do not in any way agree with.

You may be wondering what the purpose of these three stories are, and I'm sorry. In edition to being a mediocre writer, you also can't see inside my head (thank God for that, seriously). The only thing these three stories have in common is that I need to stop being afraid.

It's okay to disagree with people. You can do so without being a b-hole on social media. It's okay to tell people that racism is not something you want to tolerate, and you especially don't want to hear about it in your own house. The way my son handled it was perfect, and I wish I would have said it.  It's okay to send pictures to a woman who doesn't seem to care, because you really don't know her heart and maybe she does care. If she doesn't, that's okay. You tried. All you can do is try.

It's okay that I'm a Christian and I think Jesus loves gay people the same as he loves straight people. I love my friends if they are gay, straight, fat, skinny, black, purple, red, orange or even Florida Gators fans and Jesus is way, way nicer and more tolerant than I am.

Most of all, it's okay if  people stop reading or my blog or unfriend me on Facebook or don't want to hang out with me at the family reunion because I'm a liberal Christian who is okay with gay marriage, who takes too many pictures of my dog and tries to make amends with people who don't necessarily deserve it.

What's not okay is not defending what I know to be right in my heart. My dear friends. My beliefs. An old woman who has a dead son. These things are worth making an effort for and I'm sorry I have remained silent when I should have kindly and politely spoken up. NOT IN ALL CAPS ON FACEBOOK. But gently. WWJD is not just a gimmick to sell bracelets. He wouldn't get all ranty on social media and I feel like I shouldn't either. Sometimes walking away really is the best thing to do. Walking away, not saying a word, taking away your dollars and support.

Not in my home. Not with my friends. Not from an old lady with a dead son. Not okay.

So my goal for next year is to push on. To defend people who need defending. To love people who need to be loved. To forgive, even when it's not necessarily deserved. To be more Christ-like in my ways. Jesus was totally down with helping people and I want to be too.

Most of all, I need to remember who I am. Eight years ago if you said something derogatory to my friend, I would have been hollering for someone to hold my earrings. I've changed. That's a good thing. It's not a good thing to go so far in the opposite direction that people think you don't care.

2014, I'm going to give it my best. I promise.


Karen O. said...

Above all else, be authentic. Be true to yourself. Great post. I continue to be amazed at the people in both your new town and your old town, who felt the need to vocalize OUT LOUD to your FACE that they felt you were FAT even while you were walking. What in all that is holy makes them think that is okay?? I'm a lot overweight myself but I have NEVER had a stranger make snarky remarks about it to my face. I'm sure they do to themselves but never to my face. I'm so sorry you've had to experience that. It's not okay. We may have free speech but it doesn't mean that we can be irresponsible with our words. Happy New Year Stephanie. I've enjoyed your blog for many years and I appreciate you. :)

Tarasview said...

I'm with ya sister. Cheers to simply pushing on.

Happy New Year :)

Jill said...

You are awesome. Dont' let the bastards get you down..

Unknown said...

Beautiful. And true… and not far from my reality.

You are great and I've cut out almost all the blogs I used to read… except for a handful and you made the cut (take that however you want… since really, my reading tastes don't necessarily mean much, but thought I'd tell you anyways). Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

yet again I'm so sad that we don't know each other IRL because I think we would be great friends... sometimes you speak and it's so much something I would have said...

What makes one a "great writer?" I'm sure there are standards that make me a pretty crappy writer, but I have also had a lot of people who don't fall under the friends and family category tell me they love my writing... We can't please everyone. The best you can do is be true to yourself and use the voice that God gave you honestly... God gave you a voice, and a desire to write for a reason. More than likely that reason is to connect with others. I mean, what other reason are we here on this earth anyway?

I have three beautiful adopted children. I love them so much and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but there are days that the ache when I realize I will never have a baby with my husband feels like my heart is being ripped from my soul... I get that...

Love is love. People need to get over themselves and realize that the days of debating the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality are long gone. Children are DYING because of this attitude that has developed. It doesn't matter anymore. We are called to love. End of story... You are so, so right!