Pass the Compassion, please…


(when your whole country is a trigger, it’s hard to dodge the bullets)

Well, happy Thanksgiving, all!

(DISCLAIMER!  By ‘you’ I don’t mean YOU -unless the ‘you’ fits. This is how I write-for me, “one this” or “one that” is cumbersome and too formal for most of my topics.)

I have a bit of advice for you as you prepare to sit down with family and friends and instead of speaking your gratitude, would rather expound on the ubiquitous, never-ending stream of sexual abuse/assault/harassment stories that abound in our nation right now:

Don’t, unless you’re going to speak with non-judgment and compassion.

Seriously, don’t. Unless you’re willing to open your mind and heart and listen? Willing to have the uncomfortable and honest discussion? Willing to stop victim-blaming? Willing to prioritize empathy over your need to dominate the conversation/be “right” in an argument, or, for some, validate your own previous behavior? Nah, today, especially, is not the day.

Why?

(DISCLAIMER again: I’m not espousing that the topic shouldn’t be discussed, ever. On the contrary-honest and fearless exchanges on this subject, had they not been avoided, could have saved countless {and I do meant countless, having seen all of the “me, too” hashtags} girls and boys from life-altering trauma. Talk about it. LISTEN about it. LEARN about it. Early and often, please.)

Because tensions are high. Because in some families, confrontation is the deal during family get-togethers. Because copious amounts of alcohol. People get really stupid when they drink, while still perceiving themselves and their behavior as perfectly rational, and of course, ‘right.’ Because one person’s victim conspiracy theory comment is another’s trigger. Yep. I said it. The “T” word. Because, to use another term at which some people  now scoff, family should be your “safe place.” Whether it be a thoughtless comment, or a relentless victim-blaming  tirade, you could really be stabbing somebody in the heart.

Because, if you’re in a large group situation, no matter what your political leanings (and I still don’t get how sexual abuse became a partisan topic), chances are very good that one or more of these are the case:

  • Someone at the table has experienced molestation, an assault, or harassment, and you just weren’t chosen to be in on the story, or that someone hasn’t chosen to speak yet.
  • If someone at the table has been molested, it’s very possible that the perp is at the table too, passing you the mashed potatoes.
  • The victim (who will be referred to as ‘survivor’ from this point) is already tied in knots at the notion of sitting at this table (whether perp is present or not) and trying to act normal.
  • The survivor has been emotionally shredded for weeks now, as there has been nothing else discussed on talk shows, in kitchens, or in the news-the topics of sexual assault and pedophilia are inescapable. While there is so much good in women and men coming forward and speaking their truth, the consequence for survivors is the daily or hourly re-living of events that slice and dice more keenly than whatever you’re using to julienne the veggies for your feast.
  • The survivor across the table is so tired, and just wants to enjoy a few hours of peace and fellowship with her family before the next news story about the latest accusation comes out and fuels the cycle of brain-fry/heartbreak.
  • Your aunt/sister/mother/cousin/brother has spent weeks/months/years/decades wondering: what her life could have been like without the disaster; what greatness she might have achieved without the anchor of (unearned) shame weighing her to the floor; what it might have felt like to enjoy her thin-ness when she was; why being pretty was a crime or being an ounce overweight was the ruination of a woman; how faithful he could have been had the church not been a place of horror; what self-esteem feels like; what good could have been done with the tens of thousands spent on therapy and meds; what ‘normal’ is; trying not to cry when his friends talk about ideal childhoods. Wondering why people say, ‘such a long time ago, just get over it!’ when apparently it’s only the survivor’s club who knows that getting over “it” doesn’t happen.  “It”  became part of what molded her into the person she is.  It’s one of many aspects, to be sure, but those who lived through it have permanent scars, and those scars are burning right now. You could douse the flames just a little if you choose:
  • When you bloviate about party plants, what the governor thinks, what Jane Curtin signed, the “He totally denies it!” proclamation, or the more local “what was she wearing?” “was she drunk?” analysis, the person who just passed the green bean casserole uses every ounce of self-control she had not to bean you with it. His mind is short-circuiting and he’s making the healthy promise to himself to never attend a family function ever again, for his own sanity’s sake.
  • If Drunk Uncle begins a rant, be the one to exclaim, “New Subject!” if that’s the best you can do. Better yet, first tell him he’s wrong, then change the subject. Your table mates will (silently, most likely) thank you. The survivor(s) at the table will take a breath and smile a little, knowing s/he has a champion in you.

Think:

  • Trying to function unscathed for the last few weeks-trying to avoid teeth-grinding, sudden tears, nightmares, or flashbacks? Nearly impossible. The survivors need major consideration and compassion right now. Just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean that your sister, cousin, mother, aunt, or grandparent-isn’t holding it together by a thread.
  • As in the meme above, if you would prefer a probable pedophile to a Democrat in Alabama, might be a good idea to keep that gem of a notion to yourself, no matter whose company you’re enjoying. It also might be a good idea for some introspection, but I digress.
  • These overindulgence-fueled conversations can make a survivor, for a few moments, anyway, forget about how steel-strong he really is and how relentlessly courageous she is at her core.  It puts a survivor back to a place he or she has chosen to transcend; this place may fit your comfort zone because it’s the world you recognize, but for so many, there’s no comfort in that particular familiar.
  • As ever, as always, kindness matters. It matters more than political bent, more than your desire to score verbal points over your nephew, more than your ego or your biases.

Choose kindness today. So many people, survivors or not, will be Thankful for it.

Peace, friends,

Compassion, friends.

Courage, “club.”

*New comment below; it’s a must-read! Thanks, Lisa King.

Visit:

No More Website

Rainn.org

 

 

 

Dear Men, This Is Why We’re Tired


This post. Read.

Drifting Through

PicMonkey Image

Emotional labor is unseen. It’s the energy women spend managing other’s feelings and emotions, making people comfortable, or living up to society’s expectations… the barrage of expectations we feel from the time we’re told to be nice and polite while boys are told not to cry. It’s a thing. It’s also a weight carried by some femmes and some men, especially if they’re the main caregiver in the family.

But this is not about that kind of emotional labor.

When I read Cara Delevigne’s account of her harassment at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, I felt every word. When I heard the recording of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez pleading with Harvey Weinstein to let her leave, I felt it in my bones.

In the words these women bravely shared with us, I heard everything they felt. The fear. The confusion. The disbelief. The shame. All of those feelings are a cocktail…

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It’s my Party, and I’ll post if I want to!


“Well, I SAW it online, so…”

This post is borne of the “furious-typing-Kermit-the-Frog” moment I had last night, aimed at someone I love, and is also my reaction to a whole passel of re-posted and inaccurate posts that hit my newsfeed this morning that are drivel passed off as actual news.

Read first for context:   https://goo.gl/oUvJh5

Repeat after me, 3 times:

“These memes, unverified stories, and mislabeled/doctored photos are hurtful, incite anger, perpetuate prejudice and spread lies.

These memes, unverified stories, and mislabeled/doctored photos are hurtful, incite anger, perpetuate prejudice and spread lies.

These memes, unverified stories, and mislabeled/doctored photos are hurtful, incite anger, perpetuate prejudice and spread lies.”

I will admit to posting a few unverified stories over the years. Not many, but it has happened. When called out, I have apologized and deleted the post.

It doesn’t matter to me what party or agenda the BS meme or ‘story’ supports-if it’s inaccurate or unkind, it’s inaccurate or unkind.

A couple of hints: if the source (hint: the word “source:______” is located at the bottom of the post, or if you’re forwarding an article you can tell whether the article is from a verifiable news source/show or simply a blog/opinion show) is an email from Drunk Uncle with a million forward arrows and has multicolored flashing ALL CAPS, or if the post has any version of:

Continue reading

Want to Change the World?


With your help, ALL kids can believe they can!

I do.

More than anything.

I want to help erase Inequality, Inequity, Racism, and Biases of all kinds from the face of this Earth.

I’m just a teeny drop in the bucket, but if you’re so inclined, you can add a drop to the bucket by supporting a GoFundMe campaign that aims to fill the buckets of some kids at my new school. I will add more to this post later; in the meantime, I invite you to check out my campaign below:

https://www.gofundme.com/WantToChangeTheWorld 

Peace and Equity, Friends.

 

Why I didn’t march…


The comment I left on Mamta’s post: “Hearing your perspectives was an opportunity to learn-usually what happens with your words. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to practice what I preach and really listen (with my eyes and heart, since I’m reading) for understanding.”
I know this woman. She is wise and wonderful. I truly hope you learn through her daughter’s lens, as I did. I did march-see pic below.
Peace~

untitled-image-16

justmamta ... on a journey to hope and liberation ...

I had every plan to participate in or contribute to, in some way, our local Women’s March last week.

The reason I didn’t march is not the reason that most people who know me might think.

I am a critic of (white) feminism. I personally don’t identify as a feminist although I do support feminist efforts- more on that here. Ultimately, feminism and I have a complicated relationship. Feminism and my friends who claim feminism as a guiding value (and one that I admire), ask me to show up in solidarity and sisterhood, without reciprocity of that solidarity. Time and time again. I just can’t do #nicewhitelady feminism because it has historically been at the expense of my own.

But, I wasn’t against the march. In fact, I was very excited. Amidst my complicated relationship with feminism, I also believe that we all need to stay in it, and…

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The Children are Listening. Still.


untitled-image-26The children WERE listening. Heard by me during school bus duty yesterday: (from a fourth grader) “He hates Black people, we’re all gonna die.” (from a 2nd grader in place of the usual good morning greeting) “Ms. Frisella, we’re doomed!” (from another 2nd grader) “He hates Black people and women.” (from the daughter of upstanding citizens, Haitian immigrants) “My brother says they’re gonna come to the door and take my parents back to Haiti.”

All of the above: beautiful, frightened, Black children.
Teachers, parents, everyone???
We’ve got a lot of work to do. Our kids are scared.
Get it together and start talking nice.

Give our kids ways to talk about the election in ways that make them feel safe and heard. Allay the fears-maybe by asking them things like, “So, moving forward, what are things we can do to make your life (this community, this country, the world) a better, more peaceful place? What actions can we take together that will make you feel safe?” Take away the helpless feeling of fear and replace it with positive action.

There is NO excuse for the United States to have had children living in fear yesterday because of the Presidential election results. The grownups did this (no finger-pointing; people in all parties are guilty of the animosity, of crafting fear-inciting ads, of sharing mean-spirited posts and un-fact-based “facts”,  of re-posting great uncle Frank’s “share if you agree!” memes, and of the unkind kitchen table talk- and remember I teach elementary school and “S/he did it FIRST!” bounces right off teachers), and shame on us.

United States, people. Yep, for more than half of us, our candidate didn’t win. We have to move forward and do our best to make the best of an unwanted situation. That’s harder to do for little hearts and minds.

United States. How about we let our kids be kids? How about we stop scaring them? There’s something more important than anybody’s need to post or say something inflammatory.

What, you ask? What’s bigger than my need to make a point on Facebook and burn that old high school classmate who disagrees with me so I can give myself a little false validation? What’s more precious than me using my frantic little typing fingers to put someone down so I can feel superior for just one second?

Children.
They are listening. They have been all along, and they’ve been hearing some pretty scary stuff from us-from those of us whose sacred duty is to look out for them. Teachers, parents, grandparents, mentors and elected officials.

They’re afraid, and for many of them, rightfully so. What are we going to do to make them feel safe and heard?

What are YOU going to do to make them safe?

Peace, friends. untitled-image

 

Deafening Silence: White Silence and Alton Sterling


This. Break the silence.

(Excellent words, but not mine. Re-blogged from another writer)

 

Form Follows Function

I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.

Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.

This morning my Facebook feed…

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