Monthly Archives: March 2009

I am scared.

Tomorrow, I say goodbye to my kitty cat.  My friend of fifteen years.  Einstein.  Tomorrow is the long trip to the vet.  I can no longer watch him suffer, knowing that he is probably in pain.  It is time.

But, I am scared.  This is the first time that I will have taken a pet on my own to the vet, to be put down.  I plan on sitting with him, through it all.  I have never done that before.  I am scared.  Scared of what it will be like.

Yet, I know it is the right thing.  I want him to hear my voice telling him that I love him until he passes.  He deserves that from me.

There are so many people that have no respect or admiration for animals, no liking for pets.  I feel that every living creature deserves our compassion, respect, admiration.  I feel their spirits, connected to me inside, in tune with my own soul.  That is why our family has adopted so many animals.  They are all part of us.

He has moved with me, loved me when I felt like no one else did.  He has slept over my head and for the last few days, has been reaching his paw out, so gently, to have physical contact with me.  He knows it is time, and he knows that I know.  He told me that he is ready.  And, even when I feel so afraid, I know that I am ready also.

I know that I will be okay, but it is a goodbye that I have been dreading, but know I have to say.

Please, say a prayer tomorrow evening for my dear friend to have a safe journey to the other side.

Getting back up, dusting yourself off, and moving forward…..

As those of you who know me, know about me, I am not easily discouraged.  I am not easily swayed from my task at hand.  I persevere, even against steep odds at times.  It is this sense of resiliency that has helped me to do some of the things that I have done in my life, and has helped me to secure some of the relationships that I most treasure.

However, I do get knocked down.  I have noticed over the last few months, that I tend to react less intensely, or feel as deeply impacted, when I do get knocked down or around.  It doesn’t seem to hit me as hard as it has in the past.  In the past, when I would get knocked down in my process (and just to be clear, I am saying all of this in a figurative sense; I have never been intentionally abused by anyone physically), the impact would be felt in a very physical sense.

When I would get hammered with something emotionally, my body response felt much like when I fell off of a horse years ago; yep, that would be me.  Well, when I fell off said horse, it literally knocked the wind out of me.  Has that ever happened to you?  For a few seconds that seemed like minutes, I couldn’t talk or breathe.  It is frightening and anxiety producing.

It took me years, 24 years to be exact, to get back on a horse. 

Which kind of applies to my life experiences with getting knocked down also.  In the past, I would get knocked down by someone, either by their words or their actions.  I would literally feel like the wind had been knocked out of me, especially if I hadn’t seen it coming.

And, honestly, I usually didn’t see it coming.  A person with an objective view might have known it was coming, or been able to see the train wreck ahead.  Not me.  I couldn’t face up to events like that in the past.  So, when they would occur, I was stunned, wind knocked out of me, shaking, shocked, and hurt, usually.  It almost always meant that I took it within myself, and blamed myself for not noticing, for not being considerate, it was always about something that I could have done differently.  Even knowing that situations that occur bear shared responsibility, I almost always took the full blame myself.

It would take me some time to pick myself up, dust myself off and feel like myself again.  However, I would feel a bit timid about trusting myself, about going the same path, about whether I should listen to what others told me on my way to hitting the ground, rather than the truth that I knew was within my own heart.

Enter, 2008.  What a year that was for me, in so many healthy ways.  Learning to trust my heart.  Learning to give it a voice through writing.  Meeting so many like souls, and opening myself up literally to the world.  And, being resilient.  I think that I grew my true resiliency in the last year.  The ability to truly, truly stand up for myself.  Without apology.  Without guilt.  Just because it was the right thing.  Learning that it is okay to say no, especially when I am uncertain about something. 

And, learning to be resilient.  To get back up, right away, and dust off and go on.  I got an email yesterday from a person in the community, with some rather negative feedback about the candlelight vigil that I held earlier this month.  He had been there, with a group of students, and told me that without their participation, it would have been a bust.  He also chastised me for not working with other local LGBT groups, instead of organizing separate events and competing with them.

Knock down………. lost my breath…..

That lasted about five minutes.

I regrouped, listened to my soul, and realized, that there was a bit of good information in there, but all of the personal stuff I didn’t need, and my soul didn’t either.  I threw all that away.  I was dusting myself off. 

Then, I wrote him back.  Thanked him for the feedback.  Wrote to the director of the other organization, to inquire how we may be able to work together. 

And, lo and behold, it looks like I am walking into an opportunity.  All born of getting knocked to the ground.  AND getting back up.

It feels great, walking my path, and eating some dust.  I am growing, changing, evolving, and loving with my whole heart.

Amen!

Privilege is privilege, plain and simple

Privilege is a dangerous concept.  Dangerous in the lack of understanding about it, and dangerous in the fact that a person doesn’t need to exert that privilege. 

HUH????

There are certain aspects of personality and identity that creates possession of a certain privilege.  Based on the color of our skin, we may possess white/caucasian privilege.  Based on our gender, some people possess male privilege.  Based on our sexual orientation, there is heterosexual privilege.  Dependent on our age, there is youth privilege.  Privilege is based solely on our membership in a certain grouping or having a certain aspect of our identity.

Talking about privilege is always elicits a certain emotional response.  Sometimes, it is a positive response, of realization and awareness.  Sometimes, a negative response of defensiveness and hostility, due to feeling accused of exerting influence or privilege.  But, I will say once again, that whether we possess privilege and exert it or not, we possess it, which is the potential problem.

Privilege is a problem in that there is an a perception when a person is a member of a privileged group, that that entitles said person to have a status that is higher or defined as more important than others.   More valued than others.  Privilege is divisive rather than inclusive.

There is such a thing, as mentioned above, as heterosexual privilege.  Many members view others through the lens of heterosexuality being the norm, the way to be, the way that things should be.  So, portrayals of couples, families and individuals on television, in movies, or in magazines and stories are predominantly heterosexual in nature.  There are depictions that are homosexual in nature, but they are far less common, and seen therefore as the exception rather than the rule.   As a result, it becomes more presumed that it is more normal for heterosexuality to exist. 

The privilege comes through the issuing of rights of being a heterosexual person in this society.  As a couple, you can marry one another.  As an individual person, you can speak about your personal relationships, falling in love, and dating, in an open manner and it is encouraged and accepted.  As a married couple, you can file taxes together, be each other’s beneficiary in case of death; have all of the rights of a married couple. 

It is a joy to meet those with privilege, who are willing to acknowledge the fact that they possess such privilege, without defensiveness and hostility.  They open up their own minds to awareness, and therefore, can look at the world through a bit of a different lens; one that keeps that privilege in mind, and is more cognizant of their role in exerting that privilege, and to more actively advocate for those not in the privileged group.

All is not lost, however.  Awareness is the key.  Communication is the key.  Love is the key.  Looking at others through the eyes of love, compassion and understanding.  A willingness to make the changes where they can be made, for equality and compassion and mending the relationships that have been damaged between groups.  Equalizing things a bit.

I was so hopeful earlier this year, when Vermont overwhelming stated that civil unions have worked so well there, without the sky falling in, that full and equal marriage was the next logical step.  The legislature overwhelming approved it, it went through the judiciary committee very successfully, and was sure to be voted in.

Today, the governor of Vermont has vowed to veto it.

Why?  Who knows the real reason.  But, the bottom line is, we as LGBT persons, want the equal rights, want the opportunity to formally acknowledge our relationships so that we can ensure our participation in the equal privilege. 

Hope, hold onto the hope, always the hope. 

The straight and sometimes, narrow road……..

For my beloved and I, becoming parents was a completely active, conscious choice.  For reasons of biology, it had to be.  But beyond that, we knew that being parents, in addition to finding one another, was a life goal that was important to both of us.  And, important for us to do together, as a couple.  We have never looked back.

Before we had our delightful, loving daughter, we were both pretty much living our lives out, open and honest about who we are.  We were out at our jobs, out to our families, and to other people in our lives.  Something seemed to happen when we were about to become parents:  we got scared.  We were fearful about repercussions not just toward us, but now our child who was on the way. 

For me, those fears abated a bit.  I now believe that to live out and openly only enhances our daughter’s feeling of self, and pride in who she is and who her parents are.  That has been a journey for me, but a fulfilling one so far.  However, we are coming to a realization once again in our lives, where my beloved and I have been before, and our daughter is just learning:  that the road to self awareness is sometimes very straight, and also, very narrow.

 

I have to say for the purpose of this post,  I mean no disrespect to any of our heterosexual friends and neighbors who have been totally open and gracious, and embracing toward us.  I am not talking about allies to the LGBT community and people, who come out to events and speak out just because it is the right thing to do.  I am talking about another societal phenomena that we become immune to at times as a family.

You see, as a couple, and as individuals, my partner and I have always had to deal with oppression, ridicule or negative attitudes about us being lesbians at times.  Just saying the word for some people elicits such a negative response, that we end up closing off a part of who we are.  We have faced challenges with our families, with co workers, with churches and the public at large.  When we became parents, there was even more of that negativity at times, in the form of intrusive questions and unwelcoming attitudes.  After awhile, I begin to forget how difficult it is at times to live in this primarily heterosexual world as a homosexual person.  I become immune, I become complacent.  And, as parents, I think it is even easier to do that.

As parents, we are in the throes of activities, events, and people that are ALL, at least at this point of our awareness and lives, straight.  EVERY FAMILY.  We have not had the comfort, or at this point, luxury, of knowing other local families to connect with.  We have become immersed, of our own free will, in how life is for many straight families, and how easy it is to blend in in many ways.  We have enjoyed that comfort, believe me. And, it has not been hollow; we have made many good, true friends who are loyal to us, and fiercely loyal to our daughter.  What an amazing journey that has been.

But the lesson that is becoming acutely apparent is that we are DIFFERENT.  I know, every person is different, every family is different, we all are unique.  But, it is deeper than that.  Our family is different, our needs are different, than the majority of the families that we know.  Our family is not a common type in our area, and our sexual orientation as her parents is not always well received.  There are questions and looks and rude comments.  We are not always exposed to this, but we become complacent.

And, then we remember how different we actually are. 

We remember what a battle this can be, just to be treated equally and fairly as a couple.  We remember how there are churches and churchgoers, some in our own congregation, that believe that we are sinners, and that we need to redeem ourselves.  There are people that think that being gay is just gross and sick, and that we are flawed or diseased in some way.

Now, our daughter is becoming acutely aware of these attitudes.  Whether it is because her friends are getting older, and having questions, or their attitudes are a reflection of some of their own parents’ attitudes, our daughter is having a big dose of straight reality.

Why don’t you have a dad?  Are you a lesbian?  That is just gross…….

So, we do what we do best:  we love each other, we parent her with security and connection, and support.  We let her know that we will help her however we can, and we also let her know, that we are just fine, just right, the way that we are.  Even if there are people in this world that think we are not.  We always need to remind her, that we are whole and good and complete.

Don’t get me wrong:  I am forever hopeful.  I still have energy in me to fight the fight of justice, equality, and love.  But, sometimes we forget, we get tired.  We have to educate and remind our daughter of the realities……

Then, we have to remind ourselves as well……..of the challenges AND the hope…..

Dancing to the soundtrack of my life!

I know that I am a bit strange, but I experience this phenomena on an almost daily basis that I feel compelled to share and to write about.  For my regular, dedicated readers, this post will come as little surprise to you, knowing who I am and what my personality is like.

I thoroughly enjoy music, many kinds of music.  When listening to some of my favorite songs or bands, like Coldplay, the songs will play over and over in my head, like a soundtrack.  The words ring through as I am doing other things, and I feel like I move, walk and go through my day with the music accompanying me.  It is strange, but very true.  I will break out in a smile when I think about how contented my life is.

But, there’s more.  I will, usually several times a day, imagine myself with my arms spread out wide, spinning in a circle, or dancing around, in the yard, in the street, in my office.  For me, I envision loving and enjoying my life so much, that I want to break out in dance.  Dance to the soundtrack of my life.

To me, life is a complete joy.  Sure, there are moments of hardship, moments of stress and feeling overwhelmed.  But, more often than those moments, are the full and ever present moments of feeling so contented with my daily living that I just cannot help but smile, and want to dance and shout about it.  Besides the fact that I have a terrific family, a job that I like, a home that I enjoy, and dreams and goals for myself, my contented life comes from staying self aware, exploring, learning and growing, and doing my best to always live as closely to my soul as I can.  I know that to be most true to myself is what keeps my life contented and balanced.

This is not a miracle bestowed upon me for some unknown reason.  This is a present state of mind and life for me because I have created this life for myself.  I have trusted my instincts, followed my heart, been hurt and knocked down and gotten up again.  I have never given up on going after what is important to me.  I have taken care of others as well as myself.  I have kept my faith.  I have been self sufficient.  I have lived a life of love, full of love.

And, I have never stopped hearing the soundtrack, or dancing whenever I feel like it.  And, it is just wonderful…….