Monday, January 30, 2017

I Was Wrong: An Apology to my Republican Friends

I think I can speak for many Americans when I say I'm exhausted.

My social media pages and so many of the personal conversations I have with my friends are so tainted with politics that it's hard to get away from at it all. I used to roll my eyes at videos of pets getting a bath, but now I crave them like a comforting peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

To the cat in the shower cap...thank you.

I'm always trying to look at the other side, but throughout the election, that was hard for me. I think that's because most of my friends believe the same things I do. So it was easy for me to assume that that was the case for the majority of the country.

Obviously it's not.

I don't know where to turn for my news anymore. I don't know who is reliable. At this point, I'm reading what my friends are posting on social media and then actively seeking articles that I know are "from the other side," hoping that somewhere in the middle is the truth. I've started "hiding" people from my feed that I feel will post anything that gets a reaction - and it doesn't matter what side you're on.

The last few days have had me thinking about the last 8 years. I think I've been living in this bubble with others who think the same way, and somehow I've completely missed the other side. I know what I believe in and I just assume that that's what's right.

But there's a person just like me on the opposite side.

And to her or him...I'd like to say I'm sorry.

I now know what you've been going through. No matter how your beliefs conflict with mine, you must have felt helpless and unheard...maybe even unwanted? You must have felt as though the country you thought you knew and loved was unraveling right before your eyes. Your stomach must have clenched with fear as each law passed and each "order" came to be. You couldn't watch the news. You couldn't bear to listen to the leader of your own country speak.

And now, knowing what you've been through, I'm so sorry.

I realize that there are some major things we might not agree on, but for the first time I'm truly understanding how divided we are. It's not like a president was elected and we can just roll our eyes and get on with our day. The last president really offended a lot of people, something that I'm learning for the first time. And the current one is doing the same...I know because I've never felt this way before.

So, while I might not understand exactly where you're coming from or support the same things you support...I now understand what you're saying.

And I'm sorry that I didn't take the time to understand it before.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump Eve

It's the eve of Trump. It's Trump Eve.

I keep trying to console myself with the fact that the government is essentially just one big board of directors and if you've ever sat on a board, you know it takes forever to get anything done.

But the more I see...the scarier this all becomes. Because some of what's being proposed, the people being chosen to help lead this country...might actually happen.

Healthcare, education, defense, civil's like they're all being shaken in a giant Magic 8-ball and I don't know what the outcome is going to be.

And for all of you Republicans out there who've been saying, "It's our turn"...I get it and I would usually agree. I'm one of those voters who thinks that each party should get their turn. I do think it's the right way to balance and hope that the voices of all are heard and that this country doesn't just swing entirely one way.

But not this time.

I'm exhausted. And, if I can be honest, I feel like my exhaustion has made me complacent.

I swore I would never get this way again. When the school district I moved from (one that has been a "test case" and eerily like the scenario that a certain nominee would like to implement across the country) started going south, I promised myself that I would never just stand by and let that happen again. I foolishly watched a great school district sink, all the while thinking, "This can't be happening. This can't be happening."

It was. And it did. And like a coward I ran from it.

I feel that way again. Unheard. Unhappy. Unsure of what to do.

I keep seeing posts from friends saying, "Flood your senator's email and voicemail! Make sure they know this won't be tolerated!"

I think they know. But the depressing thing is I just don't feel like they care. It's like the government is this big uncontrollable machine that has to little to do with me. And how can that be? I LIVE HERE. I vote. I raise children. I pay taxes. I feel like I do all of these things blindly and pay people who really care more for their careers than they do about me.

It's disheartening to say the least.

I honestly can't figure out how this happened, this dawn of a newer, scarier age with a president who has exchanged the word "diplomacy" with "deal" (we're going to do great "deals" with other countries...what is that???). 

But I feel like in some ways I understand why. 

Last month I was going through all of the information I had for my current healthcare plan. I am a college educated woman. I have a degree in English. And damned if I could figure out what all of those forms were saying.

Really. I can't imagine what this might be like for someone who doesn't understand English or who just might not read and/or comprehend all that well. If I could have had someone sitting next to me, telling me what I wanted to hear, explaining everything in two syllables or less...that would have made all the difference.

But I didn't and I don't know if I understood what I read and, frankly, I picked an option just to get it done.

A lot of Americans didn't care when Trump used the word "bigly" because they still understood what he meant. It almost didn't matter that they believed in false promises (which, let's face it, all politicians feed us) because they could at least understand what he was saying.

Why go into diplomatic relations when "bomb the shit out of them" is easier to understand?

So, in a way I understand how this happened.

But the fact that it did says a lot about where we're headed.

Monday, January 9, 2017

You Don't Owe Your Dead Spouse Anything

I wasn't meant to be a widow.

Okay. I know - no one was. I mean, I have yet to meet someone who has lost a spouse and exclaims, "YES! I've finally found my calling!"

But there may be some of us who are better equipped than others.

Anyway, I was thinking in the car yesterday, where I do all of my best thinking, that I really do kind of suck at this. And there's a very specific reason why.

I feel guilty about everything. 

I really do and I always have. I bet on an average day I feel guilty about at least 20 things, most of which are completely beyond my control. This tends to be a problem in several areas.

First, as a kids can play that up all they want to. They don't usually, but they really could. I absolutely hate seeing my kids upset or sad and my natural instinct is to feel bad about it and then rush in and fix it. It takes a ton of effort on my part to absorb my own feelings of guilt in order to be the "tough love" they need in certain situations. What forces me to make my kids eat vegetables they hate and not buy them every little thing they want is that I don't want them to become grown-ups that I don't want to be around.

Relationships. Oh, guilt has gotten me into a few pickles. Almost married to the wrong person and in a relationship far too long because that person knew how to play that guilt to his advantage. I want to fix everything that's wrong so the other person feels no pain. I want to be the person they want, otherwise I'll feel that I'm slighting them in some way. And don't even get me started on the break-up.

This is why I've been single for two years.

Back to widowhood.

I was in my car the other day and a song that my husband loved came on the radio. Now usually when a song he liked comes on, I'll actually apologize to him out loud before I turn it off.

I'm not kidding. Almost ten years in and I'm still doing this. Over SONGS ON THE RADIO. Imagine how I feel about big stuff, like getting rid of his tools (that I couldn't use), or dating (we've already covered that), or moving from the home we shared together (which I should have done long ago).

And almost every day I actually get consumed with guilt over changing the station from Def Leppard to the classical station.

So, I'm sitting at a stop sign and I started to feel bad as usual. And then I started feeling angry. Really good and pissed off.

Kind of at him, although I don't know why. I mean, it wasn't in his will that I had to listen 80s hair bands for the rest of my life. But like all of the areas in my life where I feel guilty I realized it's because I feel like I owe him something.


No, really. I'm asking...why do I feel this way? DO I owe him something? Because, call me crazy, I'm starting to feel like after ten years, I really don't. I do this less and less, but I have spent years doing things that I don't want to do because I felt like I owed it to him to do it.  At first, it was really bad. I was trying to learn about things that I didn't have any interest in (no, I still can't put my own lift kit on a Jeep) and doing all kinds of stuff that even if he was still here I wouldn't do because I didn't want to.

I guess there was a part of me that thought that if I didn't do these things, I was somehow completely letting him go which scared me. Or that I was saying I liked being alone, which meant I was glad he was dead. Kind of like saying, "F--- you. I guess I didn't like you in the first place."

Twisted, I know.

Somehow, I feel like that attitude is preventing me from living my life - my whole life for myself because myself is what I've got. I'm living for a ghost, for a person who's not here to even tell me what he thinks about it anyway. And it's got to stop.

Feeling as though I "owe it to my husband" has kept me in personal relationships I don't want to be in, sometimes doing things with my kids that we really don't have to do, and, yes, listening to songs on the radio because for some reason there's a part of me that thinks I'm actually being disloyal if I change it.

Even when it's put in a positive light - "You owe it to your husband  to be happy" - it still makes us feel as though if we don't carry on in a certain way, we should feel guilty about it.

Some of you might argue with this, but I don't think we owe them a damn thing. I'm not saying you should just put their ashes in an old plastic Wonder Bread bag and stuff them in the recycle bin under the cell phone you're not supposed to be throwing away. But beyond the don't owe them anything.

If you don't want to be happy...don't be. I'm telling you right now to be miserable and to not feel guilty about it. (Wasn't that nice of me?)

If you want to paint the walls in your room Pepto Pink...go for it. It's yours.

Take over the entire closet, make dishes he didn't like to eat when he was alive, and get over it.

I realize that I'm making this sound easy. It's really not. I can even see, as I'm digesting this concept, that it's going to take a huge amount of effort for me to stop doing what I've been doing for the last 10 years. Each time I feel this way, I'm going to have to pause and flip that switch in my head that says, "You're being bad" to "It's all you, girl. Go forth and be yourself."  This is like quitting smoking or forcing yourself to do any number self-care things you should be doing for yourself.

But when I have those moments of clarity and consciously think, "Stop. You don't have to feel this way anymore" I have such a sense of freedom...I can't even describe it.

So I'm really going to try.

I owe it to myself.