Upon reflection I am feeling a need to say this publicly. I fear this may lose me the love and respect of people whom I greatly love and respect, and I hope my fears on this prove to be unfounded. I'm not sure if this is courageous or profoundly unwise, but I felt a need to own my words.
Text of my anonymous comment follows:
I am not feeling safe commenting non-anonymously either. I have watched while the words of people I respect greatly (and in some cases love very much) are misheard as something they didn't intend and would never say, and then that misperception is magnified. People with similar goals of safety, in the community and elsewhere, are coming to see each other as enemies instead of the allies I think they could be (and *are* if only they could get past the shouting and the growing polarized rift).
People I love no longer respect each other and see each other as the enemy, and this is intensifying over time.
While as a community, as a set of overlapping communities, we have not done a perfect job of protecting each other from sexual aggression and other egregious manifestations of the patriarchal world that surrounds us, I always felt safe here.
This is the one place where I *haven't* experienced a sense of feeling afraid of even subtle sexual aggression and the one place where I felt confident I would be believed and supported if that ever happened.
This is the place where I have been healing from the sexual trauma I suffered long before I was ever here. This is the place where I was surrounded by friends who understand.
I no longer feel safe at all, not mainly because I worry about sexual aggression (although the lack of listening on both sides now does increase the risk) but because I am watching a community I love, people I love, divide into hostile camps of where everyone assumes the absolute worst of those they now see as the enemy.
This is not a place I wish to be.
And most importantly this is a place where a lot more hidden sexual aggression can happen now, because when people stop listening to each other and there becomes only one "correct" set of perceptions and interpretations it becomes much harder to notice things and speak things that are difficult and hear what someone is really saying. And I think that many people will now be even more reluctant to voice subtle misgivings, because when everyone is either evil or utterly without fault, the bar for noticing someone is being creepy is higher because of a reluctance to label someone evil.
ETA: Several people have asked me for clarity about the last paragraph or parsed it in a way I entirely did not mean. I want to clarify that I am *not* saying people should not speak up when someone makes them uncomfortable but rather that it is critically important that they do (which is *not* to say that it is their responsibility to do so, but our responsibility to create an environment in which they can). And it is even more critically important to create an environment in which people are heard and believed. A conversation we need to be having now is about how to do that.
So apparently I am far too mannerly to actually say "fuck no" (or even a far more ladylike version of the same) when medical people make suggestions I find deeply problematic. Not that I have any intention of actually doing what was suggested; I just don't see any need to get in lengthy arguments either.
(I *was* in a really good mood until now though... Trying to get back to that cheerful space by sheer will...)
I didn't spend time with Beth while I could, not really, not mostly. We kept making plans, and then she would cancel at the last minute because her health was too poor that day. I didn't try as hard as I could to make sure I saw her anyway. It was hard, and she didn't really understand my life or who I was any more in some ways, and logistics are challenging, and, and, and...
My mother keeps calling at the most inopportune times, and I am not always good about returning her calls because I get busy with other things. She doesn't really understand my life or who I am any more so its frustrating to talk to her sometimes. Getting together the spoons to actually go visit her in Maine is challenging, and the logistics of this are even more challenging, and, and, and...
And her health is declining, and she is almost ninety.
I think it may be time to demonstrate I don't actually have a flat learning curve.
I was always a little in love with him, maybe more than a little for a while. At one point I wrote reams of perhaps mediocre poetry about him; those poems still probably exist in a box somewhere, if only I could find them.
What I remember most is him climbing trees and peering down from them, tall and almost impossibly thin with beautiful long blond hair I always had to restrain myself from touching. What I remember most is listening to him talk for hours, his quick brain, laced through with cynicism and the more than occasional brilliant insight.
What I remember most is the one time we spent a few hours in bed almost twenty-five years ago, the smell and feel of his skin, the softness of his hair under my fingers that couldn't stop touching it now that I finally had permission. It was achingly beautiful really, and he was, and even though in theory I literally can't remember faces, I remember vividly the feel of his eyes looking into mine. That memory is all emotion and the feel of our bodies together and watching his beautiful hands on me and running my hands across his body.
I was in grad school at the time; I had been visiting my college friends for the winter month between semesters. I had gone by Tim's room to visit one last time the evening before I had to drive back ten hours very early the next morning to just barely make the start of classes. I left his bed in the pre-dawn darkness, and the whole world seemed a little full of the feel of the sweetest parts of his energy. Everything seemed to glow before the sun was even up. I think my soul was more still with him than in that car the whole long drive back.
Tim was so divided (probably truly dissociative in a profound, compartmented way) and parts of him terrified him for good reason, parts he hated and feared. I think I only saw the dark haunted part for a moment. Other people saw it more profoundly; there was violence in him too, and a depth of self-loathing I never really saw in more than glimpses. His fiancee, who very very deeply loved him, finally left him because of that violence, and the pain that radiated from her over that decision, which she felt she had to make, was almost its own entity. (But that is her story to tell, not mine. I tell only Tim's and mine, because he is long beyond telling it.)
Tim died almost twenty years ago, literally drunk himself to death and was found dead days later. I hadn't seen him for several years. I was at his wake and funeral, and the grief that poured out of people there, grief and so much longing that someone, something could have pulled him out of the long slide into despair and destruction of the previous few years.
But what I remember of Tim most is his brilliance and his beauty and the few hours of joy we shared.
What is remembered lives.
I have a husband, a boyfriend and many many male friends whom I utterly trust and who are completely made of awesome. I have two sons who are the center of my universe. I have dedicated my career to caring for kids of all genders, and I care immensely about the well being of all of them.
Which is a part of *why* I am so furious at all the misogyny and general crushing of lives and emotions and freedom I see everywhere. I want a better world for those kids, and I want a better world for all of us who were once exactly like those kids. I want the whole world to be free of the damage the patriarchy does to us all.
But I love parties.
Just maybe not so much the amount of cleaning and cooking that must happen in the next twenty hours so that I can be the good Mommy party host to crazed children...
(But I've been acting like an adolescent, so that means I still have the adolescent resilience that lets me stay up all night and be sunny and cheerful the next day, right? Because it totally works that way...)
Almost no sleep last night, way less fragile but still not exactly back to my baseline: I am still cheerfully greeting everyone at Squiggle's school and all delighted with the sun and the birds and the new flowers everywhere.
And seriously, everyone local should go outside and look at all the green growing things appearing everywhere. It is an absolutely glorious day and things are just coming back to life everywhere...
The day before yesterday I had an entire day from early morning until way way into the night of extremely intense interaction with several different people in several very different ways.
And then yesterday I was in this deep quiet thinky space, where being alone was tranquil and comfortable and *necessary*. It didn't last that long. By the time it was time to get my kids from school I was very ready to be in the world of people again. But it showed me a glimpse of what most of the people I love best experience on a regular basis and *why* they need that time alone.
[No, we are not committed to this yet, but we are considering the option pretty strongly if the right cat seemed to need us. Yes, we do know this suddenly makes our house much less hospitable for a sub-set of the folks we would really like very much to have able to go to our house: That is the biggest reason we haven't done this yet and are still not sure we will.]