I talked with an old friend yesterday morning.
She had made coffee at 6:15 a.m. so she’d be ready to chat at 6:30 a.m.
As I drove to work, Jane and I talked on the phone about many things. One particular exchange stood out after we hung up after I reached my office.
“I’m trying to give myself breaks. I can’t really effect positive change from a place of constant distress, y’know?” I said.
“I’m writing that down,” she replied. She felt exactly what I meant.
I wanted to write down a lot of what we said, but I couldn’t.
Instead of marking the words, I marked the feeling: the feeling of safety that comes with having loved and quarreled with and come back to loving someone without reservation.
For the first time in what seemed like ages, my distress melted away. I was just Deb, chatting with a dear old friend and savoring every second of it.
I tried to return to the feeling of Jane-talking throughout the day. I’d find it in moments here and there, but it kept fleeing when I thought about all the change I wasn’t making happen right now!
Today was a little different.
I’d told Jane yesterday, “Rain is nice. When it’s sunny out, which is most the time here, I feel like I have to get things done. When it pours, the load is lightened. I feel so much more mellow, like, ‘You know what? Today would be a good day to do half as many things.'”
It poured today, as if to remind me.
After spending extra time in traffic this morning thanks to the glorious downpour, I stopped at a gas station and messaged my sister and a new, supportive Twitter friend, Michael, while filling my tank: “Wish I knew how to relax right now.”
Step away, Rache and Michael both told me. Take a social media break!
I smiled. I was grateful to have them looking out for me.
Soon after, I read with a little boy who asked, “Will you be coming back tomorrow?!” (“No,” I told him, “but I’ll see you again next month!”)
At work, we had our holiday party. I fought valiantly and won the only prize worth keeping: poop slippers, which I seized at the very last second.
And there was something else, too: I’d solved a riddle. Thanks to Jane’s candor, I was able to piece together some part of a truth it’s pissed me off to have perpetually just beyond my reach.
The joy from solving a riddle is directly proportional to the time and energy it takes to solve it …
… and whether a friend helps you solve it.
Same as always on Friday, I inched home slowly in Friday afternoon traffic.
Unlike always, I smiled all the way. Why? Well, wouldn’t you know:
I talked with an old friend yesterday morning.
I owe my seven-year-old some snuggles, and I promised my husband I was about to step away from the computer.
I couldn’t step away yet, though. There was something else I had to say, so I sat here for a moment longer, trying to figure out what that feeling was. I finally found a name for it: gratitude.
I’ve learned a lot of hard things the last few months. They made me both sad and angry, and I showed lots of both those emotions. I’ve already said sorry for being a jerk, so I won’t dwell there again.
What’s left to say, I think, is thank you. Thank you for sticking around while I figured out what I believe, and how to start expressing it, and got back around to understanding we needn’t agree on much of anything to support each other in friendship.
I’m glad you stuck around. I’m glad you didn’t throw up your hands and go, “That’s it! The Deb I knew is gone! Done here!”
You could have. You didn’t.
Thank you for staying.
I’m an introvert.
I once used stick figure drawings to demonstrate this.
There’s a bubble of space around me I don’t like people invading. I’ve often gotten downright cranky when people have tried.
Even more recently, I’ve come to see a different kind of bubble.
Long before I realized it, I was in a bubble of light. It was mostly warm, and cozy, and illuminated by lots of other friend-filled bubbles around me.
Then Ferguson caught my attention, and I caught glimpses of darkness out beyond these bubbles of light.
I explored. I spoke. And, finally, I moved on, exhausted.
I soaked up the light and forgot my fear of the darkness I’d seen out where light couldn’t–or didn’t–reach.
As the Democratic primaries neared conclusion, I saw darkness again.
I reoriented my bubble so I could no longer see the darkness.
That only worked for a little while. The darkness began peeking through no matter which way I turned.
So rather than fearing its seeping in, I held my breath, clenched my fists, and stepped out into the darkness.
I soon learned that very, very few people are permitted cozy bubbles of light. Their–our–bubbles were purchased by others’ pain.
I learned that my country’s leaders have, for decades, spread the darkness for impoverished people they haven’t (yet) killed worldwide. They have done this for corporate gain.
I discovered my comfortable bubble was paid for by genocide.
“I can’t fucking believe we’re committing fucking genocide!” I roared in agony to friends.
“Mind your language!” they retorted.
Now I see how many lives depend on light breaking through all that darkness.
I’m ashamed I spent so much time in my own bubble. I’m ashamed I tried to hold that light in and keep it just for me and those the very, very nearest to me. More than that, I’m committed to standing outside my friends’ bubbles and encouraging them to burst those bubbles and share their light. To penetrate the darkness and illuminate the world for everyone.
Burst that bubble!
Share that light!
The light outside will be much dimmer than what you’re used to, at first …
… but to many who’ve never had any hope of ever affording their own protective neoliberal bubble, the light may well be blinding.
Please read my sister’s impassioned post
from earlier today.
It may hurt. It may be scary.
It may also well be part of your path to letting
If you’re willing to take the journey outside your bubble,
we’ll be overjoyed to walk that road with you,
growing all our strength in solidarity.
Yesterday morning, my seven-year-old son heard my husband, Anthony, and I talking about election results.
“What happened?” asked Li’l D.
“Trump won the presidency,” we explained to him.
He looked stricken.
“Oh, sweetie,” I said. “I know you’ve heard a lot of terrible things at school. But, you know what? Lots of people you love voted for Trump.”
Anthony and I listed these people, and emphasized how much they love him and are committed to protecting him and keeping him safe.
Many people are afraid right now.
Some of that fear is very reasonable, particularly for minorities. Some Trump supporters hold bigoted beliefs, and some portion of those feel enabled by Trump’s victory.
But some of that fear was carefully cultivated by the DNC, which very intentionally elevated Trump’s candidacy–and fear about his supporters–starting early 2015 to improve Clinton’s chances of victory.
On both sides, fear has been used to divide and conquer us.
I wrote this morning about why I would have voted for Trump were there only two choices. I hope you’ll read the post and consider the possibility that some of what you’ve learned has been wrong.
(I’ve spent the last six months doing this, and it’s been painful to understand how my ignorance has helped hurt people. You’ve seen some of that in anger that’s sometimes bled through here, less at anyone else and more at myself that it took me so very, very long to see.)
Please don’t categorize people as “self” and “other” right now. Resist the urge, as I must personally be vigilant about doing right now.
Please, please listen to each other, hear each other, stand up for each other–even if your voice or knees shake–and fight against the fear machine.
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.
Take that love and let it shine, because that love translated to action is quite literally what it’ll take to save this world for our children.