Tag Archives: hurt

Attention-Seekers: The Women’s March on Washington

“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

***

“We’re with a group of strong, beautiful women. We’re fine.”

metropicThese were the words that my travel companion and dear friend Cassondra uttered to her concerned mother by telephone as we made our way into Washington DC by metro train for the Women’s March on Washington early on the morning of January 21, 2017.

I’ve had to replay Cassondra’s words many times in my head in the days since. I’ve needed the reminder that those simple words provide. I’ve needed the strength, the affirmation, the love.

Because, let me tell you, the days following Saturday have not been easy.

The only way I know how to describe it is that I’ve walked out of a sea of love into a swarm of hatred.

I live in a small, conservative area. I don’t mean to use the word “conservative” with a negative connotation, but I’m just going to have to say it like it is. The minds around me tend to be small. They can’t (won’t) stretch far enough to take in all that is out there in this big world. I’ve become used to it. I’ve become accustomed to the responses I receive any time I go against the flow (which is pretty often). This is nothing new. I knew there’d be negativity. I was prepared for it. It’s pretty much the status quo for me.

But what I wasn’t prepared for?

What took me surprise?

The response from some of my friends.

My FEMALE friends at that.

“I’ll march at the ‘we’re all a bunch of hypocritical asshats that love to point out the splinter in another’s eye while ignoring the log in ours’ protests.”

“I didn’t ask anyone to march for me.”

“No one ‘fought’ shit. You guys walked around getting pats on your back from people who already agreed with you.”

“They’re just a bunch of attention-seeking whores.”

Lovely, huh?

And, oh no….these were not comments that I just plucked off of the internet, mind you. These were said by women I know personally. Women I considered friends. In fact, one of them was one I had even considered one of my best friends right up until the moment my eyes met those words.

I feel shell shocked.

I’ve been running their words over in my mind.

Attention-seeking whores.”

Women (and men) just looking for “pats on the back.”

I suppose there is some truth to some of it. Really. For example – attention-seeking? Okay, actually yeah. That’s exactly what we were doing. Exactly. Drawing attention to the things that get swept under the rug. The drastic wage difference between men and women. The daily cat-calling, condescension, and groping that women are submitted to.  The men who make their eight-year-old daughters cry because they want their hair cut but daddy refuses to “let them” because the Bible says they’ll go to hell. (Oh yes. True story.) The Brock Turners of the world who serve three mere months in jail for damage that a woman will live with forever, because it may have hurt his little swimming career.

The men who brag about grabbing women’s pussies against their will because they have the power to do so, and yet advance to become the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Are we wanting attention? Well, yeah. I suppose you can say we are.

So, attention-seeking – I’ll give you.  Whores?  Hell, I don’t know. Maybe some of them out there have been paid for sex. Me, though? Notsomuch. So I’m gonna have to pull a snopes on you for that one. FALSE.

Now. Are we looking for “pats on the back”?

Hmmm. Actually, I think that might be the other way around. We were there to give those pats on the back.

nastywomanmanTo the woman I overheard trying desperately to hear on her cellphone as the crowd thickened and the decibel level rose because she was calling to make sure her son made it to soccer practice? Yes. That woman deserves a pat on the back. So, here. This pat is for you.

To the man who married a “nasty woman” and showed up to show his support and love for her and all women like her? This pat is for you, sir.

To the woman carrying the sign that said, “I’m the lesbian daughter of a Muslim immigrant?” This pat is for you, you strong, beautiful, brave woman. And here’s another one for your mom.

babyTo the many women in the crowd who carried their babies on their person for hours at a time so that they could be a part of an historical event to have their voices heard? This pat? Yeah. This one is definitely for you. What a story you’ll have to tell them. Kudos to you, momma.

To the little latino girl on her daddy’s shoulders beaming as she watched 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, daughter of Mexican immigrants, give arguably the most rousing speech of the day? That smile that covered her face as little Sophie told her, “I am here to tell the children, do not be afraid”?  Oh yeah, that one gets a pat on the back. And it would have gotten the biggest hug you’ve ever gotten from a ginger stranger if I could have reached you, you sweet little thing you.

hatefearTo the teenager holding the rainbow sign showing the USA and the words, “No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here”? A pat on the back for you, little warrior woman. I know full well how tough it is for a teenager who is “different.” How brave you were to walk through the streets of that big city and show the other kids of the world that you were on their side.

To the woman wearing the race bib on your shirt that said “Sarah bear”? Being a runner myself, I had to ask you about it. I thought it was yours. When you told me that you were wearing that bib in honor of your young daughter who had just passed away? I couldn’t stop the tears from pouring. You definitely get a pat on the back. A big one. You possess a strength that I couldn’t possibly know. You are my hero.

To the woman who wrote this sign we found propped against a fence at the white house:

sign

This blog would go on forever if I kept up with all of these ‘pats on the back,’ so I’ll finish it up with one final one.

To the woman who stood by my side through it all. The woman I watched feed a homeless man; defend a woman who was being verbally attacked by a stranger on the street; force a parting of the crowd to help a woman break through to find her son. The woman who continually asked people’s stories. Who felt people’s pain. Who engaged everyone in conversation. Who shed tears on countless occasions simply because she was standing where she was and doing what she felt in her heart to be right. The woman who never wanted to be in front of the camera because she was too busy behind the camera –  documenting the happiness, the strength, and, sometimes, the pain. The woman who lost her job while we were on this trip because of a landslide in our small town, yet who set that worry and grief aside long enough to focus on the matter at hand, and do her part in preserving a piece of history. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I raged with her.

We became sisters.

cassondraSo, to Cassondra? An extra special pat on the back for you, lady.

*THIS* is what this trip was about. This is what this weekend was about. This is what that day was about. This was what that march was about.

Sisterhood.

Togetherness.

Connection.

Strength.

Love.

Determination.

We are going to be there for one another. We just are. Not just Cassondra and me. Every woman that stood there side by side in a collective love.  That day was just the start. The start of something big and beautiful.

And I will not…I repeat, NOT…let pettiness stand in my way.

There will be more stories to tell, I promise. Cassondra is a photographer and there will be photos coming that will blow you away. Her photos will tell stories that my words never could. Wait for them.

We are not through yet.

I just had to get this out while it was weighing on me.

I had to fight back against the oppression, even if it was coming from friends.

We won’t be stopped. You don’t have to understand this now. But one day you will.

One day you will.

not-over

Sign left outside a café the morning after the march in DC

Let Us Grieve

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
– Bryant H. McGill

***

So, here’s the thing. I have a little favor to ask of you, my fellow Americans. It’s not much. Just a tiny little thing you might be able to do for me.

STOP MINIMIZING OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS.

Okay?

Seriously, y’all. Stop it.  Now.

What does that mean? you ask.  “Minimizing other people’s feelings?” Valid question. So here, let me give you a few examples:

“Stop whining.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Calm down.”

“Get over it.”

If I had a dollar for every variation of those I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I’d have enough money to advance to the presidency myself.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, okay? Ready?

We don’t give a shit who the president of the United States is.

Yup, there it is. I said it.

Is that not very patriotic of me? Eh, maybe not. But it’s the friggin truth. Are we going to be inviting him over for dinner? Is he going to be babysitting our kids? Giving us marriage advice?  Exchanging presents with us on Christmas Eve?

No. He is nothing to us.

WE DON’T CARE.

But here’s what we do care about.

How the rhetoric and example of the person in the highest, utmost position of honor in our country is going to trickle down to the people we are around every day.

Think it doesn’t really matter?

Think again.

Yesterday, kids all over America asked to stay home from school. I know, because mine was one of them. Were they overreacting? Making a big deal out of nothing?  I don’t know. You tell me.

“I turned out the lights on my third graders at 7:38. They come in my room at 7:35. They were arguing about the election within minutes of walking in my room. I turned out the lights and told them that the election was not going to change how we treated each other and we would not be discussing it. They are eight years old. My class doesn’t fight. They were yelling at each other. If kids are acting this way, how far will adults go?”

These are the words from a THIRD GRADE teacher in our small, rural town in North Carolina today.

Third graders.

A facebook status from a concerned friend of adoptive parents:

“So, I’ve been holding this in all day but would like to share it with you now. A friend of mine and his wife have an adopted son from Central America. He came home scared and confused from school yesterday and said that some kid told him that if Trump wins the election then would be sent back to Mexico. My friends had not discussed Trumps policies with their son so this idea was coming straight from others. Connect the dots. This is simple and basic and real. It’s not some media pundit taking up air time. This is our America and it pisses me off. If you think this a problem in our society and would like to discuss how we can fix it then I welcome your thoughts. If you don’t recognize this as a problem then you are part of the problem…”

Again. Right here in Nowhere, North Carolina.

Or better yet.  Here.  How about this one?

“’Yes, sweet boy, God loves you. I love you too.”’

A co-worker whispered these words in answer to a sobbing student today. A student who was born in America, just like my girls. A student who takes care of his siblings and takes on more responsibility on his shoulders than my girls have ever known.

This student walked into his school today to taunting, “You’re going to be sent back to Mexico.” He buried his scared, hurt face in his teacher’s shoulder, and we found a safe place for him to cry. Through my own tears I said, “Find the good people to hang out with today. There is bad, but there are always good people.” And I prayed in my heart, please God, keep letting the good show up.”

That was a middle-school teacher in our same little rural town.

“Please God, keep letting the good show up.”

We are in the middle of nowhere, people. Obama, Trump, Hillary…those people are never going to step foot in this little town that is so far off of an interstate we barely know how to tell people to get to one. We don’t care which one of them is sitting in the oval office at any given time. We really don’t.

THIS is what we care about.

Each other.

If you think this election doesn’t affect every single person walking across this land we call home, you are sadly mistaken. If you are one that can just shrug it off and go about your business and not let it affect you – hallelujah. Good for you. I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.

But I’m not.

These parents aren’t.

These teachers aren’t.

These students aren’t.

We are in pain, people. Our country is broken. Our hearts are broken. For lack of a more eloquent term, we are treating each other like shit.

And that hurts.

Some of us cry. Some of us rage. Some of us become smartasses. Some of us hide, some of us fight. We all have different ways of dealing with our emotions, but the underlying emotion remains the same.

Fear.

We are scared. We are petrified. We don’t know what is happening to us because most of us haven’t lived through something like this. This is new to us. Those of us under a certain age don’t remember segregation. Stories of the Holocaust are just stories in a history book. Same with stories of the misplaced Indians (well, unless you’re paying attention to the non-front-page headlines these days). We read those stories and we try to empathize but we weren’t there. We don’t understand it.

But when we see a little Mexican boy crying because his peers are telling him he’s going to be deported to a country he has never even seen?

Yeah. Suddenly, it’s real. We feel that.

If you don’t feel it, if you don’t have to experience it, if you’re not around the people who are acting like this – good for you. Really, good for you. I’m happy for you. I hope the rest of the world catches up to the utopia you’re surrounded by.

But for the rest of us out here?

This is very real.

We are hurting. We are scared.

And we deserve your respect.

americacry

Being Ignored

ignored2

(Poor wittle ducky…)

I don’t know about you, but I can TOTALLY relate with that duck.  Been there, done that, did not, however, buy the t-shirt.   (I mean, seriously, who wants a souvenir from that crap?)

You feel me?

Well, check out this fascinating excerpt from an article about ostracism that I happened to stumble across:

“Being excluded or ostracized is an invisible form of bullying that doesn’t leave bruises, and therefore we often underestimate its impact….Being excluded by high school friends, office colleagues, or even spouses or family members can be excruciating…When a person is ostracized, the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which registers physical pain, also feels this social injury.”
– Kipling D. Williams, a professor of psychological sciences

Well, how about that.  Being left out or excluded or…the word I absolutely despise…IGNORED, can actually cause physical damage.  It makes your ‘dorsal anterior blah-blah-blah’ hurt.  Seriously – it makes you feel like you are experiencing pain.  Real, legit pain.  And further in the article is another observation by Dr. Williams that I think is an even more interesting tidbit.  After a study of 5,000 participants, it was noted that:

“The effect [of ostracism] is consistent even though individuals’ personalities vary.”

Well, there ya go.

If you’re like me, being ignored can make you feel like you are a Class A bona fide crazy person.  You probably feel like there is something wrong with you – that you’re weak or needy or clingy – and that must be why it’s bothering you so much.  Well, guess what?  You’re not.  No matter what kind of person you are – whether you are tough as nails or cry at infomercials – your brain is still going to have the exact same physical reaction to having someone turn their back on you as the next guy.  You’re not a freak.  You’re HUMAN.

So, stop feeling so bad about yourself.

And hey – if you’re reading this and you’ve never experienced this?  Then maybe you need to ask yourself if you’re the giver of this kind of the treatment rather than the recipient.  And check this out.  I’ve got news for you, too.

It works both ways.

“[To] exclude another person leads most people to feel shame and guilt, along with a diminished sense of autonomy, explains Nicole Legate, lead author of the Psychological Science paper and a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester. The results also showed that inflicting social pain makes people feel less connected to others. “We are social animals at heart,” says Legate. “We typically are empathetic and avoid harming others unless we feel threatened.”
– From Science Daily (Read full article here.)

So, let’s cut all the scientific mumbo jumbo down into layman’s terms, shall we?

Stop that shit.  It hurts.

There.  Seems pretty darn simple, doesn’t it?

Seriously.  Stop it.  No one wins.  Don’t you see that?  Analyze why you’re doing what you’re doing and find another way.  Is it a family problem that you’re avoiding facing because of the discomfort?  Well, stop it.  Find out what it is that makes you uncomfortable and tell them so.  Start there and see where it goes.  Is it a friend that you don’t want to be friends with anymore so you just ignore them rather than telling them so?  Well, stop it.  You’re hurting both yourself and them even worse by just ignoring them.  If the friendship isn’t working, say so.  Is it a relationship you don’t want to be in anymore?  Same idea.  Stop it.  The pain inflicted by ignoring someone far exceeds the pain from knowing the truth.  Do you both a favor and stop playing games.  Life is just too short for that junk.

Stop it.

And hey – is it maybe that it’s just a little time and space that you’re needing to sort things out?  Well, here’s a wild and crazy thought.  SAY SO.

(I know, right?  I’m a psychological genius.)

Nothing is more painful than feeling like you’re unimportant and forgotten.  No, I don’t have an article to post or a resource to quote to back up that statement.  It’s just a Melissa-ism.  And it’s 100% accurate.   Why am I so sure about that?  Because I say so.  That’s why.  (See above psychological genius reference.)

Good grief, people.  This life is hard.  It’s so tough to figure out how to interact with all of these fellow human beings that float around us at any given time.  We’re such a beautiful, assorted, mixed array of personalities that it’s amazing that we are able to co-exist at all.  But we do.  And we can.  And we sure can make it a lot easier to do if we just learn who we are, what we want, and stop the passive aggressive B.S.  As John Meyer puts it, “Say what you need to say.”  Do it.  Just say it.  If they don’t understand, then fine.  That’s their problem.  But do your part and don’t be a bully.

Is that really so much to ask?

And back to you receivers.  If you find yourself feeling like the little ducky in the picture, just allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.  Don’t make yourself feel worse by trying to stifle it or by telling yourself you’re weak or that you need to be tougher or stronger.  You’re going through pain.  And pain hurts.  It’s ok.  It’s life.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  You’re just a human being.  Just like me.  Just like everyone else around you.  And, most importantly, just like the person who is ignoring you.  (The big ole jerkface….)

*Sigh*

Hang in there, my friends.

If we could all just do our part to get along with each other, this world sure would be a nicer place, don’t ya think?

Hey, a girl can dream…

***

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help other.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” 
-Dalai Lama

Naked Eyes

“Into every life a little rain must fall
And that’s the way that it will always be
But you seem to think you can keep the hurt away
Just by pretending you don’t see.”
– George Jones lyrics

Morning arrives.  As it always does.

The sunlight shines through the slats in the blinds of her bedroom and, one by one, the rays begin to touch her face like the impatient tiny hands of a small child.  She smiles a sleepy, happy smile and slips out of bed ready to start her day.  As she walks to the bedroom door, she has the sudden sensation that she might have forgotten something, but can’t quite put her finger on what it might be.  After only a slight hesitation, she proceeds to open her bedroom door and step into her life.

Something is wrong.

Immediately, she notices that things look…well, different.  She can’t quite explain what it is.  It’s just different.  Her life is there, the same as it was yesterday.  The people, the surroundings, everything is in its rightful place.  But it’s all shadowed somehow.  The hue is wrong.  Something is off.

She begins to interact with the people in her life, but they are different.  Gone are the halos from yesterday, and in their place are shadows.  Frowns have replaced smiles.  Insults have replaced compliments.  In the span of one night, everyone has become needy.  Selfish.  They pull at her.  Grasp at her. Want from her.

What is happening?

She knows everything is wrong, and yet she still has a role to play.  The world around her has changed, but she still must perform.  She is a mother, a child, a sibling, an employee, a loved one.  She must continue.  She must try to pretend that everything is not different.

The show must go on.

But how?  Everything is different.

And these people – these people she barely even recognizes anymore – they clamour; they pull; they expect.  They get angry when she’s not the same as she was yesterday.  How can she be the same?  Don’t they see?  Don’t they understand that everything she thought her world to be just yesterday suddenly…isn’t?

Have they known this all along?  Was she the only one who hadn’t seen the world this way?  Was there a secret she wasn’t let in on?

And why now?

She just wants to go back to yesterday.

She trudges through her day, trying to love the strangers that have replaced the cast of her life.  She breathes in, she breathes out.  She manages.

Finally, this day in her new life is complete.

She is back home.  She heads to her bedroom; her sanctuary.  Everything will be better there.  She starts towards her bedside…

And stops in her tracks.

There it is.

How could she have forgotten?  She knows this gear is expected of her.  Necessary to her survival.  She learned this lesson long ago.  And yet here she went an entire day without it.  How stupid of her.  How careless.

For there, lying right at her bedside table where she had left them, were her most important accessory.  The item she wore everyday and refused to forget had somehow slipped her mind this morning.  And now, here they were.  Waiting to make everything right.

On her nightstand, lay her pair of rose-colored glasses.

Ahhhh.  Now, she is reminded of why she wears them.  Now she remembers the time before she found them.  Before she knew of their importance.  Usually she only allowed herself to take them off before drifting off to sleep – only allowing her natural sight to escape in her dreams.  The natural sight was too blinding for the daytime.  Too uncomfortable.  Too real.  Her eyes had stung too many times before she found these precious shields.

How could she have forgotten them?

She climbs into bed, and drifts off to sleep.

***

Morning arrives.  As it always does.

Again, the childlike “hands” of sunshine reach through the blinds and caress her into consciousness.  She does as she does every morning, and immediately reaches for her glasses.

And then she remembers.

Yesterday.

Had it been a dream?  Surely she wouldn’t have gone a day without them, right?  Surely what she had seen was not real.  Those people in her life – she hadn’t seen beneath the surfaces, right?

Had she?

No.  Of course not.

No.

She shrugs off the thought, places her glasses back where they belong, and prays that what has been seen can be unseen.

She turns the knob, takes a deep cleansing breath, and steps into her life.

All is well.

***

But these rose-colored glasses
That I’m looking through
Show only the beauty
And hide all the truth.”

– John Conlee lyrics

rose-colored-glasses