Monday, September 28, 2015

Facing Scylla & Charybdis

I wrote this quite a while ago but balked on publishing it. I'm far enough past the situation that it doesn't feel so raw anymore.


I'm sure most of us have been there.

We've been faced with a decision and neither choice looks good.

We've had to decide to let other people down, let ourselves down, or potentially both.

These decisions may take hours or days but it feels like years are stolen from you. Your stomach hurts. Your head hurts. Worst of all,

your heart hurts.

When you commit to your chosen course of action, you know it's the right one because your head & stomach relax even though your heart doesn't stop hurting.

You know you've let people down who depended on you. You can guess that they feel abandoned and maybe even betrayed or rejected. You know, personally, you've said goodbye to an opportunity you'll never see again.

and it hurts

and you have to remind yourself of why you ultimately made the choice

You look at other important people in your life and you know you didn't let them down. You know your choice made them feel supported and, most of all, valued. You know your choice kept your integrity intact and that, one day,

personal integrity may be all you have left.

You remind yourself that you can be replaced. You can even be replaced by someone more qualified, more competent, more experienced. Ultimately, you are expendable to everyone but yourself.

Life will go on but you have to look at yourself in the mirror every day.

You know, deep down, you only ever had one choice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recognizing Your Privilege Isn't Enough

Race relations in the US are on the front burner in our country again after the killing of Michael Brown. It seems like just yesterday when Trayvon Martin was killed. Why does it take people dying for our country to talk about race? How blind do we have to be to the struggles our friends and neighbors experience for it to take someone getting killed to discuss racism?

What can you do? What can I do, as a white, middle class, stay-at-home-mom to stand against against the systemic racism that still exists in our country? How can I be a friend to those who live this struggle every day?

1 - I can recognize my own privilege. This is a small but necessary first step. Hat tip to Sherry Payne for this definition at the International Babywearing Conference: "White Privilege (White Skin Privilege) - a set of societal privileges, existing in predominantly white societies, which benefit white people beyond what is commonly experienced by people of color." I have to be able to see what I'm working with and working against.

2 - I can engage in difficult discussions about race relations and privilege. If all I do is pat myself on the back or write a blog post whenever I recognize a privilege I have, I'm most likely part of the problem. Shying away from these conversations doesn't help anyone. One day, these difficult discussions are going to take place with my sons in regard to their own privileges. I can't shy away from that, either.

3 - I can listen. At the end of the day, this isn't about me. I'm not the person getting followed in the store. I'm not the naval officer who is accustomed to white women clutching their purses when he steps into an elevator. I am not the mom watching her son's character get maligned by the press after he is killed. I have to put my ego aside and just shut up so I can actually hear what my friends are saying.

4 - I can hold people accountable for racism & prejudice, including myself. I am active in several large online communities. I am a leader and educator with a local community organization. I have numerous opportunities to support my friends and stand up against the frequent & casual invalidation of their experiences. Holding myself accountable includes reading the literature and ample blog posts/opinion pieces regarding racism & race relations and not relying on my friends to be the spokespeople for their respective ethnicities.

5 - I can stop being defensive. It helps no one if I try to point out that I'm not a racist every time someone discusses how white people have treated them poorly. Refer back to #3. Chances are, if my friends didn't already trust me as much as possible, they wouldn't be talking to me about the aggressions, invalidations, insults, & assaults they experience regularly due to the color of their skin.

No, this list isn't exhaustive and it will most likely change as my kids get older and we enter a new phase in our family. However, it's what I can do right now, in my own community, to help level the playing field.

I recommend the following blog posts for more reading:
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
I Can't Believe I Now Have to Convince White People That I Like White People
Not Guilty = License to Kill
White Privilege & What We're Supposed to Do About It

I recommend the following twitter accounts for eye-opening, perspective-broadening posts. There are many, many others you can also find through these accounts:
#NMOS14 (Feminista Jones) - seriously, follow her this instant.
NPR's Code Switch
Gene Demby
Antonio French

What would you add to this list? Would you change anything? Do you agree or disagree?

Who would you add to the "must follow" list? What are other blogs or publications you would add to the "must read" list?

What are you doing in your community to fight the inequality that still exists?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I've been vocal about living with depression but I don't think I've ever really posted about what it's like when I'm depressed. Thankfully, through medication, I don't have to deal with depression very often. 

However, I'm dealing with depression right now. I hate it. I hate what it does to me and I hate what I, in turn, do to everyone around me when I'm depressed. 

Yes, I'm on Zoloft and my life is so much better because of it. However, it's not perfect. Everyday is not some miraculously wonderful stress-free day. Depression still slaps me in the face at inopportune moments...Zoloft just helps it happen less often. 

Right now, I want to run away by myself without anyone being able to find me until I'm ready to be found. 

No, I'm not going to do it. Even at my worst, I'm still rational. I have two wonderful kids who depend on me and need me. That fact never leaves my thoughts, although I often wonder if things would be different without antidepressants. It scares me enough to know, without a doubt, that I will continue to treat my depression with medication for as long as I live.

Right now, everything is overwhelming. Everything is too much and I want to walk away from my responsibilities. I want to turn in on myself and ignore the rest of the world until I feel like myself again.

I know that I can't do that, regardless of how much I want to and I am grateful for enough clarity to realize it. 

Right now, I want to be alone. It literally exhausts me to have a simple conversation with someone. Chitchat requires more energy than I have available to expend.

Right now, I'm numb. I don't connect with other people the way I should when I'm depressed. I don't feel appropriate emotions, positive or negative, when I'm depressed. I view life happening around me like an observer & not a participant.

I unintentionally hurt people when I'm depressed. I know it. I see it happening and I am powerless to stop it. Feeling powerless is part of my depression. Being powerless is one of my biggest fears and depression is good at using that against me.

I used to feel like this all of the time. Now, it just hits me every once in a while but sometimes I think it's harder on this side. 

I know what it feels like to enjoy life now. I know what it feels like to wake up in the morning aware of the fact that I am blessed in so many ways.

I know what it feels like to be happy and I know exactly what I'm missing.
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