I’m Listening

This was an intention statement that i made a year ago today.
I’m proud of my conduct and progress in this area, and i intend to continue.
To that end i share it even with those that i don’t personally know or interact with.

Happy Thursday.

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Dear People-that-i-personally-interact-with,

I wanna tell you something. I have a lot of thoughts about this and more than a few things to say about it, but i’m gonna keep this short (ish).

The reason i’ll be brief is because this stuff is super important for me regarding what kind of human i want to be, and also how i see the other humans in the world, but based on how my husband’s eyes have rolled up into his head a couple of times, i think i have a tendency to drone on and on about it. Pity the poor man when i’m trying to figure something out. Heh.

I was raised “right wing” but would currently be considered “left wing”.
I’ve decided that, with respect to interpersonal relationships, i don’t know what the hell those terms mean.

The recent political campaigns and elections i’ve seen in my province, in my country, and in my closest neighbouring nation, have all been contentious and divisive. I’ve seen so much fear and anger and hatred amongst people on both sides of the political spectrum and i get it.

I SO TOTALLY, TOTALLY GET IT.

You do you. Say your piece. Trim your friends list. Make your ultimatums. Draw your lines in the sand. Curate. Block. Plant your flag at the top of your hill and defend it against all comers.

I want you to know i believe in your right to do that, and i have no judgment about whether it’s good or bad, or you should or shouldn’t do it. It’s your life and you should live it as you choose and do what you think is right. I support you in this respect.

This is a belief and intention statement from me, about me.

I have thoughts and beliefs about things like religion, politics, sex, family, the law and law enforcement, the rights of other living beings, the environment, the planet, the universe, what’s right, what’s wrong, who’s right and who’s wrong… all of it. Just like you do, and i can guarandamntee that there’s not a single human with whom i completely agree with about everything out there. If there is, it’s because neither of us have the time or the inclination to discuss ALL OF THE THINGS, and our jaws are starting to lock up and we’ve got a headache from nodding so much.

What i believe is that there is room enough here for everyone, conditionally. Those conditions would include tolerance for differences of opinion and points of view, and a willingness to be wrong and to see things from another perspective. And the earth could stand a chance of being a truly transcendent place if everyone actively tried to understand everyone else.

Maybe that’s just me. Anyway…

Maybe it’s also just my perception that the divide between “sides” is getting wider and deeper. However, maybe there are others out there who’ve been watching it happen and are becoming more and more concerned for our future. And maybe, like me, you’ve also been wondering what in the name of all that’s good in the world, can little ole nobody me do about it?

This is not the part where i tell you. I can’t because i don’t know.
I think that most of us by now have gotten the message that we all have a voice and we all have something to say, but there is another piece of that message, a yang to its yin, that i believe has been lost.

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Although that was initially intended as a philosophical thought experiment regarding observation and knowledge of reality, i can use it to illustrate the point that i’m trying to make, which is this: Have you really spoken if no one has listened to what it is that you said? Does it matter what you say if no one listens? If everyone’s clamouring to be heard, who is left to hear?

I’ve decided that i am. I’m left to listen, and listen i will.

Look, i get frustrated, too. I think everyone should think what i think because i’m clearly right.
But i read the same tones and hear the same inflections in the words of people espousing various beliefs that in my opinion go from nonsensical to repugnant. So then WTF? I used to go to snark pages to blow off some steam about how incredibly ignorant and stubborn some people can be, but i quickly found that i didn’t feel good about participating. Over the past few months i’ve found myself not going to those pages at all, not even just to read them, because i don’t even feel relief anymore. For me those groups are just echo chambers, and i think they gave me a false sense of security, and gave me an excuse not to think for myself, not do my due diligence, and close my ears to opposing opinions, beliefs, and points of view.

This does not mean i’m suddenly open to changing my mind about all or even any of my beliefs. I have good reasons for the things that i believe to be right and good, and i can back it up. What i’m saying is that i’ll listen, even if i disagree -and more than that- i’ll listen respectfully. I will tell you bluntly though, i may not find your beliefs or opinions worthy of any respect, but as long as you can have a civilised and relatively reasonable discussion with me, you will have my quiet attention.

I will try my best to understand where you’re coming from.
I will not patronise you, neither with my demeanor nor with my responses.
I may believe you to be dead wrong. I may even find what you’re saying to be morally reprehensible.
But i will hear you out. I will listen to you and try to understand where you’re coming from, unless or until you either become intolerably disrespectful or aggressive, or i perceive to my satisfaction that you’re being intentionally or otherwise wilfully ignorant, at which point i will end our interchange in as decent and quick a manner as i can manage.

For myself, i cannot see how i can do otherwise, and not be contributing to this increasingly wide, deep, and treacherous divide between recognisable and appreciable sides of any and all issues. I don’t know how good i’ll be at this, but wherever this place is that i’m starting at, it is my sincere promise that i’ll get better at it.
Listening.
Understanding.
Communicating respectfully.

Okay, so maybe you think this isn’t short or even ish. If you don’t believe it, just ask my husband, and be vigorously assured.

Have as good a day as you’re able.

Love and Peace,
~H~
P.S. Isn’t one expected to be dropping resolutions rather than adding more at this stage?

I Need People, Ain’t I Lucky

On the evening of November 8th, i pulled the plug on the news. My anxiety flew right off the charts and i knew i had to take a break. I’m a Canadian, so my country has very close ties with the US, and personally speaking, some of my favourite people in the world live there. But since it isn’t my country it wasn’t my decision to make, i can’t change what happened, and it would be grandiose of me to think i could. It is an unhealthy and unhelpful way of thinking that i’m taking great pains to keep out of my precious head.

So i shut ‘er down.
I’m an adept skimmer, so social media wouldn’t pose a problem (i did take a short break, even from FB), and other than that, i just stopped watching the news. No big. Sometimes avoidance can be very wise, and it most certainly was in this particular case. To refer to a well known prayer, i accepted the things i couldn’t change and got about the business of the things i could.

When i returned to social media my eyes easily rolled past certain key words, articles from known political sources, and obvious imagery (the colour orange was not part of my personal rainbow for a few weeks, lemme tell ya). I enjoyed kitties and puppies and children and those 1-minute videos for how to make delicious food that i really shouldn’t eat very often. A certain image though, began appearing often enough on my feed that it penetrated my consciousness, and one day while watching the news last week (i still PVR so i can skip past any news about the new American president) i saw the image again – turns out it’s a graphic for this big dealio they’re calling the Women’s March on Washington. It was a local piece and they said there would be a march in my city.

Then this thing happened. This thing that i’ve come to know as confirmation that all the work i’ve done on myself, the mental and emotional roots are strong and set deep, and my tree is bearing good fruit.

I suddenly knew i was gonna go.
I was gonna leave my Crooked Little House and i was gonna go people.
I was gonna go WOMEN, and i have grown to loveloveloooove womening.

As i’ve learned more about who i am and what i think about things, i’ve been able to embrace my sex more warmly and tightly than i ever thought possible. My initial and primary abuser was female, and that can confuse relationships with same sex people. The fact that i’m bisexual complicated things more. My sexual identity has been hard-won, but no more so than any of the rest of who i am.

Now i know why i couldn’t quite be a tomboy or a froo-froo girly girl. I was trying to fit somewhere so that i might be safe, but they were only disguises. I didn’t know that i had never seen myself naked, and the reason nothing fit quite right is because i never took the last outfit off, i just slipped on another one over top. (I hope that metaphor makes sense – in my mind it’s pretty spiffy. Heh.)

So i’ve gone from a definition of women born of a religious upbringing, where i learned we were weak and inferior to men, to an egalitarian one that sprang naturally from my freshly naked loins. (SPIFFY!) Now i see women as just people. I dig men, like, a LOT (i’m very committed to and in love with the one i married), but i seek women for deep connection. I genuinely and profoundly feel like, “Yes, i belong here. This feels good and right,” when i am among women.

So yeah, i knew i was gonna go, and i knew exactly with whom. I contacted her right away and sure enough, she was going, and Yes of course! i could come along. She is an incredibly special person to me, and one day i’ll tell you about her, but for now, just know that i am s-m-r-t SMART, and she was the perfect person to be by my side on my first foray back into the scary world of interacting with other humans on the physical plane.

We marched together and it was invigorating.
I spoke to other women and not only was it fine, i didn’t obsess over every word and action afterwards.
I participated (clapping, shouting, laughing, booing, etc.) and i didn’t feel fake or even floaty.* I was surrounded by over 3,000 other feminists of all genders, gender identities, personalities, worldviews, creeds, politics – binary and non, intersectionality everywhere.

And i remained myself. I didn’t try to fit in with any group, i didn’t alter my speech or physicality according to where i was or with whom, and i wasn’t paranoid, self-conscious, or even afraid. My Peanut Gallery was relatively quiet, and i didn’t have to fight to stay in the face (maintain control of my system, for those of you who haven’t read the post immediately preceding this one).

When i withdrew from people over a year ago, it was for the express purpose of figuring out how to be my genuine self and maintain control of the way my brain works while in social situations.
But i wondered if i could really get there.
I feared that i might never again leave the safety and sanctity of my Little Crooked House.
I seriously considered that i just might not be able to conquer all of my coping mechanisms, so deeply ingrained and reflexive are they. Well reader, i’m telling you that i got there.

I came, i saw, i conquered.
In other words, i left my house, i hung out with real live humans, and i peopled.
I AM FREAKING VICTORIOUS.

Love, Peace, and Power to the People,

~H~

*Floaty is how i describe the feeling i get sometimes when i’m overwhelmed and about to either slide or switch.