Thanks for joining me…
The new year has caused me to be very self reflective. What are my strengths and weaknesses as a parent, wife and friend. All the normal resolutions bump around in my head. Cook more, eat healthy, read to the kids more, keep the house cleaner, etc. It is a familiar routine. There has been one major difference with this new year though. Last year I launched the blog. I have spent half of the year in a new, and often uncomfortable, place. Putting my political views ‘out there’ definitely threw a wrench in things! I struggled to cope with hateful comments and unsolicited sexually explicit pictures. I felt weighed down by the workload, pressure from my self imposed deadlines and constantly behind on the other duties of my life. I went through months of self doubt after opposing arguments made their way through my social media accounts on a near daily basis. Because of this, I spent many hours examining my own positions. Why do I feel the way I do? This was the question on my mind as I was reading through the Declaration of Independence recently. There’s a section in it that we all are quite familiar with:
“…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
After months of introspection, this line jumped off the page for me. This single line, and my firm belief in it, can explain the roots of my progressive views. First of all, the definition of unalienable must be understood. Unalienable, nowadays inalienable, means unable to be taken away or given away by a possessor. So, unalienable rights cannot be taken/given away. The rights that are specifically listed are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In my mind, the industries that impact these three rights, that cannot to be taken/given away, should not be for- profit.
Life: It’s time for universal healthcare
The right to life is directly impacted by the healthcare system. Every living and breathing human should be able to get the healthcare they need regardless of age, condition, financial position, housing status or any other factor if life is truly an unalienable right. Insurance companies, personal finances and employment status dictates an Americans right to life as it stands currently.
Liberty: No for-profit prisons
Prisons or immigrant detention facilities shouldn’t be financial goldmines for anyone. This only incentivizes longer sentences and more detainees directly impacting the unalienable right to liberty. The prison system and society don’t integrate former inmates back into regular life efficiently causing people to continually end up back in prison. If we treated liberty as the unalienable right that it is we would focus more on rethinking how we treat our incarcerated community to help ensure liberty is restored and sustained.
Pursuit of Happiness: Public education from PreK – Secondary Education
The pursuit of happiness is all about retaining the ability to change your circumstances. Education is vital in this pursuit and should be available to all from preschool through secondary education. As it stands now, banks and universities decide who gets to try, therefore deciding who gets the unalienable right to pursue happiness. There should be a public education option at every level of education to ensure that every American has equal opportunity to change their station.
These things, driven by empathy, are what forms my basic ideology. This is why I find myself on the left side of the political spectrum. Some call these ideas radical. I call them bold and ambitious. Having a healthy, educated population is an investment that is worth all the time and money that would have to be spent to make it a reality. 2019 will be full of surprises I’m sure. Hopefully some bold, ambitious policies will be one of them.
I was at dinner with some friends over the holiday. We were doing the normal chat, talking about our lives, our Christmas plans, our husbands and our kids. One friend asked me how Oliver is doing. I said he’s doing great. She followed up with a question that surprised me a little. She asked, “So, is the therapy curing him?” This may seem like a simple question for most people. For me, it feels mean.
I choose not to be offended or insulted though. She, like most people, view autism as a disorder that needs curing. I responded that best way I could think of, especially because this particular friend is currently exploring the possibility that her son may be autistic as well. I told her that the therapy isn’t a cure for autism. He will always be autistic. It’s not a disorder/disease. It’s the way his brain operates. So, yes, he’s doing great. But I suppose I’ve always thought he’s doing great. I left it at that.
This conversation caused me to think a lot about my kids and how the therapy is impacting their lives. This line of thinking is a regular occurrence for me. Anyone who knows me well is aware of the fact that I can dwell on little choices I make about my kids for extended periods of time. I project 20 years forward and try to picture how the decisions I make today will change the trajectory of their lives. Of course, it’s a fruitless exercise.
Anyway, I was deep in thought about ABA therapy when someone reached out to me about it. She sent many articles about the permanent impacts of ABA. She pointed out some real concerns that happen to be concerns that I share. I read through everything she sent and prepared for my upcoming meeting with Oliver’s team. As it turned out, the director of Utah from the company that is providing our services was coming to my house that very day. I would have a chance to talk through my thoughts before I head into this inevitable black abyss of worry that I’m being a bad parent. Funny how the timing worked out that way.
When she arrived, I dove right into my concerns that she is very much familiar with at this point. I told her I’m worried about:
- teaching him to hide his emotions rather than process them
- working him too hard
- him learning that there is only one right way to do things which isn’t his way
- Max feeling like his needs are not as important as Oliver’s
- learning blind compliance to authority figures
- him feeling like the only way to be successful is to conform to an image that we design
- ABA feeling abusive to him
She listened to me, as she does every time, with understanding and compassion in her eyes. We walked through all of his programs, like we always do, as I sorted through my thoughts about it all. We evaluated his hours and talked through his school schedule. She told me again that if change is needed that I can call her anytime and they will be put in place right away. Of course, I already knew that seeing as how I’ve called for changes many times. I walked away feeling grateful for her, for the team we have and especially for this woman that took the time to send me her thoughts. I’ve never felt more confident in the choices I’m making for my family. I’m sure a fleeting feeling, but at least it exists today.
The truth of the matter is Oliver doesn’t need to change anything about who he is to have a successful, happy life. Unfortunately, there’s another truth that has to be acknowledged. Society isn’t designed for autistic people although it is getting better. Schools have sensory activities worked into the curriculum, there are teachers that specialize in helping kids that learn differently, even Vivint Smart Home Arena (still the Delta Center to me) has a sensory room! These things help, but they aren’t enough.
School is set up for kids to come in with a certain level of vocabulary, basic skills for following directions, the ability to learn in a group setting and to understand what’s being asked of you. These are the exact skills that are developing much more slowly than what any public school can accommodate. That is where the ABA therapy comes in.
Basically, the strategy that I have insisted upon is building confidence in himself paired with understanding the society that we live in. It’s OK to feel sad/angry. You can cry, scream, punch a pillow, go to your room, say how you feel, walk away, ask for a treat, get a hug and countless other things, but it’s not OK to hurt yourself or others. The focus of the therapy is not about making the one correct choice and baiting him into making it. It’s about teaching him to generate his own solutions while steering him away from the ones that are detrimental to him and others.
- It’s OK to explore a new environment, but it’s not OK to wander to where mom can’t see you.
- It’s OK to be fearless, but it’s not OK to run into the street or jump into a pool alone.
- It’s OK to be different and learning to stand up for yourself goes along with that.
- You don’t have to change your interests to make friends, but you do have to be kind and listen to others.
- You also don’t need to be friends with everyone, your real friends will accept you.
- You don’t need to give up on your fascinations, but you do need to recognize/cope with situations that don’t accommodate them.
- It’s OK to need help, but you need to learn to do things on your own.
As I write this down it makes me realize that these lessons aren’t reserved for people who are not neurotypical. Every child has to learn about how to function in society. Every person experiences positive and negative things on their journey to adulthood. I can’t prevent pain from touching my kids. I figure the best thing I can do is equip them with a strong moral compass, teach them the importance of setting boundaries and model strategies for dealing with pain.
The therapists help me do this by:
- reading books to the kids
- watching videos followed by asking questions
- playing games that require turn taking
- creating problem solving boards to help support emotional processing
- making visual schedules to help the kids know what to expect
- bringing sensory toys to help alleviate anxiety
- making flashcards to help improve vocabulary
- spending time with me to talk through any concerns that I have
The consultant meets with the teachers at the school to come up with plans to support his specific learning style. They provide a weighted blanket for him when he has to sit and listen. They keep a dinosaur card on the board at school to let Oliver know when it’s dinosaur time. The teachers now make time during the day for all the kids to pretend to be dinosaurs. The school speech therapist, private speech therapist and occupational therapist all use dinosaurs and Godzilla to help him along.
At the end of the day, one of the reasons the therapy has been so good for him is because the adults have decided to put him in charge of his own life. We don’t get to create an image for what a good kid looks like. He’s already a good kid. The team helps him learn how to function in the society we have today, not for the society that we ought to have. The society we have today doesn’t make room for people that are different very easily. We need to push the public school system, the courts and challenge societal norms to achieve the changes needed to make room for everyone. It will take years of persistence, awareness and organizing. In the meantime, therapy and other support is the answer for us.
I believe that sharing my life will help create a community that feels urgent about having a more empathetic and inclusive society. Not everyone will understand or agree with my methods. All I can do is keep the conversation going and keep doing the best I can.
For those of you that don’t know me, I am Sarah Bourne. I run a website called Blue Mom Red State. My mission with the site is to encourage Utah communities to lean left by sharing experiences on my own life. By illustrating how politics touches my life I hope to inspire more people to vote.
I haven’t always been a political person. My political awakening began almost 3 years ago. I was a stay-at-home mom to two little boys. I was struggling to adjust to my role as an in-home parent. Being outside the workforce made me feel irrelevant, disconnected from society. I could feel my relationship with my husband growing distant due to the fact that our lives were so different. I needed to do something about this.
I decided that I was going to start following the news. I didn’t have lofty goals or some grand plan about it. I just wanted to have a conversation with my husband that wasn’t about how many diapers I had changed that day. One of the outcomes I didn’t anticipate was how good it felt. I love learning new things and I found that I felt passionate about many issues. I was beginning to feel better about things.
Then, my oldest son was diagnosed with autism. The recommended treatment was ABA therapy. This behavioral therapy consists of 30 hours a week of intensive, hands-on therapy that costs anywhere from 60k to 100k a year. The treatment would last from 3-10 years depending on Oliver’s progress.
My family was derailed and I struggled with the transition. How were we going to pay for this? How were we going to make this work? As time has gone on it has become clear to me how critical this therapy is for him. They taught him his name, how to talk, how to wait, how to be in a store, how to get dressed, how to watch for cars, everything. When it was time for him to go to school I was so excited because he had made so much progress. I was sure it was going to go well. The reality was the school has a hard time supporting him.
He doesn’t understand basic social cues. He doesn’t understand sitting in a circle to listen to the teacher read a book. He doesn’t understand that the show-and-tell toys aren’t for him to play with. All these things that neurotypical kids can be easily taught don’t connect for him. I can see everyday the genuine effort of the teachers to provide the free and appropriate education that my son has a right to, but they just don’t have the resources.
Oliver isn’t the only one either. The special needs class across the hall is severely understaffed and in over their heads. I recently approached a woman running for office in my area about the issue and she brushed me aside. I’m frustrated and sad. What am I going to do about this?
His diagnosis caused me to go through long periods of self reflection. It caused me to think long and hard about what kind of life I want my kids to have and what I was going to do to make it happen. I wrote a lot. I wrote about the hardships I was going through. I wrote about the many incidents that happened with my friends, family members and people in public that made me feel like a bad parent. I came to realize that we live in a society that has rigid expectations about what a good kid looks like, what they are supposed to act like.
I’ve struggled to adjust to my new life as a special needs parent. I want more understanding from people, more support, more empathy. I feel isolated, alone, like an outsider. I’ve immersed myself in the issues surrounding my situation. I’m constantly trying to learn more about the healthcare system, public education and other social issues. I have spent much of my time learning more about how the government works and those who serve within it.
I have come to realize that many of policies in place don’t serve my family as I believe they truly should. ‘Why is this?’ I wonder. The answer is that our government’s decisions are not being guided by the universal values that we all share. Integrity, compassion and empathy, tolerance and inclusivity, being team oriented and standing for justice, not just for the people that fit the mold. It is our responsibility as citizens of this state to elect people that reflect those values.
I believe that Deana Froerer embodies these values. She believes that we are in this together. So, spread the word and get people registered to vote. Continue to support her campaign anyway that you can. I believe that she will bring positive change to Utah which is exactly what we need. Thanks again for your time and your donations. Keep up the hard work and let’s do this!
Social media anxiety has taken hold. It’s officially happened. This is what I dreaded most about starting the blog. I used to be so indifferent about it all, so disconnected, an offline person. I didn’t have a Twitter or an Instagram. I wasn’t a YouTuber and used my Facebook account sparingly. I took pride in it. I was rarely distracted from my kids. People who know me knew that I probably wouldn’t text them back because I rarely had my phone on me. I was focused, completed all my to-do lists and had a clean house. I made it to the gym everyday. I was routined, comfortable. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about or why social media could have such a stronghold on someone’s life. Now I know.
I’ve gone from online obscurity to feeling on display everyday. I feel disheveled like I’ve forgotten who I am. I wake up with a deep sense of foreboding. I’ve left myself unattended all night. What am I going to find when I login this morning? My phone feels like the bearer of bad news, yet I can’t seem to peel my eyes from it. When I make myself put it away my mind can’t think about anything else. I hate that this has happened to me. My sister tells me social media isn’t personal. ‘It’s just a storefront,’ she says. It feels personal to me. It feels personal when I get messages from people telling me about their life and how something I’ve said resonated with them. It feels just as personal when I get the insults.
This little gem was attached to a post about my son. How can I not take it personally when a story about my real life prompts a reaction like that? It makes me wonder why I did this at all. Then I receive this email,
I was really happy when I saw the title of your blog. But I hesitate to engage, as it does not give the appearance of a very organic blog. Maybe you can point me to your earlier work or something? I’m sorry – but your style is a bit suspect.
Ok? This whole thing is about me and what I think about on daily basis so how am I not to take this personal? I don’t feel like I’m a suspicious person. I guess you can’t win them all. Ugh…
Of course there’s also the endless messages from random guys saying ‘hey dear’, ‘hi beautiful’ or whatever else they can think of. Really?? Have I not made it perfectly clear that I am happily married with two kids? I guess people don’t care. Then, I’m sure you can imagine, the hostility coming from the other side of the aisle. Calling my videos ridiculous, a stupid person being duped by the mainstream media and so on. It’s not personal though, right?
So, I guess to make a long story short, since starting the blog I’ve gained weight, lost my patience, felt distracted, belittled, and scrutinized. I’m off routine and scatterbrained. I have days that I feel really motivated and other days that I wish I could take the whole thing back. I wanna go back to quietly worrying about my kids and hoping for a better outcome. I have to remember that I didn’t feel good back then either. Sitting disgruntled in my house wishing I could do something made me feel helpless. I suppose there are pros and cons to both situations. I just have to keep plugging away and keep my chin up. I feel like I’m doing the right thing despite what others might say. I have to remember that every voice matters, including mine. I don’t have to be a journalist or a politician to have an impact. I just have to make sure that dark corners of the internet don’t get me down too much.
After a few days offline and a few days of analysis paralysis, the big resounding thought in my head is how did we get here? The bigger one that comes after is how are we going to recover? The latter question is the one that scares me more than anything Trump can really do. Seems strange to feel that, but I have plenty of proof in my own life as to why I feel that way. It all goes back to the beginning.
What it’s like being raised by a pathological liar.
When I look back on my upbringing I can’t help but think of a huge pool of muddy water. Thick, slimy muddy water. When I look closely, I can see me and my other siblings lurking around underneath the surface. Every once in while, one of us comes to the surface for a much needed breath. Passersby look down and wonder what on earth are they doing? Don’t they see they are swimming in disgusting water?
What the people don’t see, behind the pool, hidden in the maintenance closet, is our mother filling bucket after bucket of muck and mire. Anytime any one of us finds our way to the surface, finds any clarity, she is ready to pour more mud. As she pours she tells us not to worry. I love you, I’m protecting you, the only person you can trust is me. How do these 5 people accept this? How come they don’t just see what’s happening to them? It’s because it didn’t happen overnight.
It took time, effort, persistence, cruelty and gaslighting.
Back when I was young and the water was clear I loved my mom. Just like every other kid, I trusted her. Admired her even. Anything she would say I took as truth. So, when she began telling me that I was too shy to make friends, I believed her. When she would tell me don’t even bother, people won’t like someone like you anyway, I believed her. When she told me that her husband is just a touchy guy and my discomfort was silly, I believed her.
Slowly, she started putting little tablespoons of mud into the pool with me. With each little lie, another tablespoon. When I was a little older, middle school age, I started to see some things that were confusing. I had some friends. They seemed to like me. I was good at basketball. The coaches seemed to think I had potential. I was sitting in health class in 8th grade when I realized that my relationship with my stepdad wasn’t normal. Maybe she was wrong all along. Maybe I am smart, athletic and funny.
Then, I didn’t get asked to dance at the first after school dance. I came home crying to my mom. In that moment of vulnerability, my mother told me, ‘see, I told you. Nobody likes you. You’re too shy to make friends. You’re best off here where nobody can hurt you.’ And, like most kids, I believed her.
By this time, the water was murky. It was hard to tell what was true and what was false. We would go back and forth between my mom and dad’s house. Life was so starkly different between the two. My dad was predictable, consistent. After a couple days of being there I could start to see the harm my mother was doing.
I would go back to her, try to call her out on her lies and deception only to be gaslighted and confused again. Enormous fights would erupt after she pitted me and my siblings against each other. I would always be the first to cry. She would turn to me and call me weak. She would taunt me, ‘awwww, you gonna cry now? Is Sarah just too sensitive to deal with her life?’ At the end she would hug and comfort me.
It’s confusing to want comfort from the thing that hurts you, but I did. I grew up paranoid that something bad was going to happen at any time. I was afraid of being stabbed in the back by my siblings. I had to keep my guard up to make sure my ‘weaknesses’ weren’t used against me. I became desensitized to sex and privacy to get through my days. The only thing she could think about was herself and it didn’t matter what happened or who got hurt as long as she came out ok. After years of emotional and sexual abuse, pathological lying and deception, I couldn’t tell up from down. I couldn’t see that I was swimming in a pool full of slime.
How was I going to overcome this situation?
My solution was to escape and never look back. I got married young, moved out and tried to pick up the pieces. I was still in a muddy pool. I still don’t know up from down. The only thing that has changed is the person filling the pool is gone. What do I do with the mess that is left? First I had to drain the pool. That takes time. Years of counseling to try to sort out what parts of my life were a complete lie and what parts were real. Great, the water is gone. I looked down and saw that I was still covered in the filth that was left behind. How do you clean that off?
With counseling, a lot of guessing and checking (HUGE mistakes) and time (10 years!), I was able to figure out basics like right from wrong, how to hold a job and to trust other people. The road to recovery was almost harder than living through the deception and abuse. It took constant effort to change my worldview. The crazy thing about recovery is it’s never finished. Every once in a while I will still find some dirt left behind that needs cleaning.
The country is going through the same thing with Trump.
Oddly, the experience with the Trump administration feels very similar to this period of time for me with one major difference. This time I am a passerby. I look into the cesspool of all things Trump and think how does anyone believe this guy? How can he gaslight so shamelessly and people just fall in line? How does he have so many people hoodwinked that we are abandoning basic principles like ‘be nice to one another’? The parallels between my mother and Trump are uncanny.
Here are a few examples:
- pathological liar
- incapable of feeling empathy
- fosters an environment paranoia amongst people close to him
- over sexualizes his own daughter
- disrespects women
- taunts and bullies people he views as weak
- spends most of his time convincing his followers that the only person that can be trusted is him
He does this by design. At this point, he could shoot someone on 5th Ave. He’s got a pool with half of America in it and he’s the one muddying the water. Lucky for us presidents come and go. My fear is that when his reign is over and the water drains, what will we be left with? How much time will it take to recover? Who is the person that is capable of dealing with the filthy aftermath? If the recovery is going to be worse than the damage, we are at the tip of a very ugly iceberg. Hopefully I’m wrong.
What makes it so hard to be a democrat in a predominantly republican community? I’ve found plenty of people that agree that it’s hard, but why? I’ve been wracking my brain about it all day. Is it fear of confrontation? Being shamed? Getting into an unsavory debate at a family party? There’s safety in numbers, right?
So what’s the feeling when you’re standing alone. The opposite of safety I suppose. But am I standing alone? Sometimes I like to imagine a room full of people. Someone in the front asks all the democrats to stand. At first no one stands for fear of being the only one. Slowly, one by one, people begin to stand. Once the crowd sees there’s enough to feel comfortable, people continue to stand until half the room is on their feet. I want to believe that could happen here. If there was ever a time for that to happen it’s now.
I haven’t been online long, but it took no time at all to figure out that it’s hostile out there. I have finally personally experienced ‘being trolled’ when it used to be something I read about. I already know what the haters are going to say. I feel mentally prepared to handle it. Still, every time it happens, it hits the same sensitive spot that kept me in hiding so long. Mean people I guess. But this is just online right? Everyday, real-life living is more decent, isn’t it? Nowadays I’m not so sure.
This year I decided to put a campaign sign in my yard. Sounds like a small thing, but in my neighborhood it really means something. Based on polling and appearance, my neighborhood is what one might call ‘Trump Country’. Putting a democrat sign in my yard is like putting a mark on my forehead. The day I did it felt liberating and simultaneously made me nauseous. I’ve chosen a side. It’s the one the current president demonizes. The one that Fox News, The Daily Caller and Breitbart makes out to be evil, the enemy, the baby killers. No wonder why it made me sick. I am showing my true colors. I side with the ‘enemy of the people’, the dreaded mainstream media. If real life is anything like Twitter than, surely, I am doomed.
Now that I’ve put the sign out and started the blog I’m in an internal struggle about why I did this. Why am I asking for trouble? Why am I subjecting myself to Trumpers that get off on belittling others when I could be quietly going about my day? I go round and round in my mind until I settle on the same thing every time. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing for my boys. It’s too important at this point to stand idly by. It feels like I’m standing alone in a room full of people staring at me and I think others in my position feel the same. We’re not alone, we just need to stand together, stay persistent and prove to others it’s ok to come out of hiding. This election matters more than any in my lifetime and it’s imperative that democrats win. It feels like a constant struggle now, but with time I have to believe it will be worth it.
Victim shaming courses through the veins of our society. It comes out in different ways depending on the subject matter, but we’ve all heard it. It’s something I have personal experience with so I notice it particularly often. As I’ve learned to navigate Twitter it’s so apparent how widespread victim shaming has become.
Some of it is borne out of ignorance, some of it just seems cruel hearted and some seems like a genuine lack of empathy. Remember when a crocodile leapt out of a lake at Disney World and killed a two year old? I’ll never forget how I felt when I was reading comment after comment from people berating the parents for not watching, for being irresponsible, for not reading the signs posted. My heart went out to the couple. Their child was just killed in front of their eyes without a thing they could do about it. I felt awful because that could have easily been me.
At that time, my autistic son wandered away from me constantly. I would take him to open parks and he would wander for days. I could picture myself on that shallow lake letting him wade in because I had to choose my battles daily. Of course there was outpouring of love too, but why do we have both?
I can find countless, COUNTLESS examples of victim shaming within the #metoo movement. Although, the best example I can think of is my own. A few years back I went to the police to make an accusation of childhood sexual abuse against my stepfather. By 26 years old I had finally found enough courage, while suppressing extreme embarrassment and shame, to turn him in. I didn’t go into it hoping for a certain outcome or any expectations. I just did it because it was the right thing to do for me. After nine months the state took up the case. I made two recorded phone calls from the police station to confront him. Both calls included my mother accusing me of lying, trying to ruin her life and belittling me.
Long story short, I went through 4 years of hearings and testified for hours in a jury trial. As a sat on the stand being asked incredibly explicit questions, I saw his side of the court filled with supporters. So many they were overflowing into the standing area in the back. All of them familiar faces. My side had a few, but nowhere near his amount. My own family, my own mother, were hoping for my demise.
During trial, his lawyer made me out to be a liar, told the jury I had false memories and suggested that me and the other victims planned this out to seek revenge on him. She’s ‘just angry’, ‘not in her right mind’, ‘just because you were making poor decisions doesn’t mean that this happened to you’. These were all things my own mother testified against us.
Throughout different periods of time family members would say, ‘sweep it under the rug’, if I talked about this, ‘it would cause more problems’. His lawyer was smart. He even presented a letter to the court that was authored by the other victim when she was very young. This letter was written to my mother and said how much she loved her. The lawyer then ask the question, ‘if she was getting abused, why would she still feel love?’
He purposefully lead the jury of our peers away from challenging themselves to understand more. He knew the jury would fall into the comfortable place of not making a judgement, we are taught ‘not to judge’ after all. He knew they would ask themselves all the common questions that come up with victim shaming. Where’s the proof? How do we know she’s not lying? Why did she wait so long to say something? She must be getting something out of this. Although we had ample evidence, two recorded calls and two credible victims with very similar stories, we lost the case. The easy way out is to assume we are lying. It’s easy to belittle us so you can tell yourself we don’t need to be believed.
For people that believe that victims accuse others for attention or money you’re wrong. I’ve been through the entire painstaking process and I got nothing from it but shame and abandonment. Luckily, I’m not a public figure so I didn’t have to endure public scrutiny like the women of the #metoo movement have to endure. I cringe every time they are accused of having nefarious motives or just want money. I’ve been through the process and, trust me, no one wants to go through it. The one thing that I can walk away with is the confidence that I am strong enough to do the right thing regardless of how hard it might be. I applaud women that come forward and I hope that the #metoo movement can be the catalyst to a more empathetic society.
I have to constantly remind myself why I decided to make my blog public. There are a few reasons. One of them is to help change the dynamic for me. I feel like a visitor in someone else’s community. I’m a non-mormon in a largely mormon community. I’m a Democrat in a predominantly Republican area. I have a special needs child which makes it hard to relate with other parents. I’m a stay-at-home mom in a society that applauds working women. All of these things make me feel isolated. I’m hoping that by sharing more about my life I might find others that are feeling similar.
Over the last couple years, especially after the election of Donald Trump, I have made a real effort to conduct myself in a very neutral way because I ‘know’ I’m in the minority with most of my opinions. I listen, I make jokes and I ask questions. It’s pretty rare for me to say anything of substance in a social situation when I feel like a ‘visitor’. Neutrality has also made me feel like my friends don’t know that much about me. I have created a bit of a dynamic where there are people who feel close to me, but I don’t feel close to many. I do have many thoughts about what is happening, but there’s nowhere for me to voice them comfortably. The blog, I’m hoping, will be part of the solution for the feeling of loneliness that has grown over the last couple years.
The problem is I’ve never really been an active user of any social media platform. I have spent most of my time being an anonymous observer if I did any browsing at all. I have always been very mindful of what I ‘like’ or read for fear of exposing my genuine views about something. I say all the time that it’s so much easier to like everyone when you don’t know everything about them. I’m probably mostly talking about myself when I say that.
Since launching the blog I have opened Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and created a Facebook business page plus the actual website for the blog. I have become active on my personal Facebook page. I have gone from essentially no social media presence whatsoever to sharing not only my personal thoughts about my family, but also my political views across multiple platforms.
I didn’t realize how uncomfortable this would be for me. I didn’t anticipate how exposed and vulnerable I would feel. I didn’t know how much time and effort it would take to figure out each of the platforms. I didn’t realize how against my nature this whole project would be. The constant anxiety of being ‘out there’ is all consuming. I’m hoping it might feel better with time as long as I continue to feel like I’m doing the right thing.