Sometimes it feels like I'm circling the drain, saying the same things over and over. I don't know that this will be another one of those posts, but I'm feeling like that, so I'm putting it all out there, raw and unfiltered.
Baggage...We are all walking around with it. You have no idea what another person is dealing with no matter how close you are. All it takes is for the person not to say and you are in the dark.
Since you don't know what another person is dealing with, the load he or she is carrying, how badly he or she might be hurting, how close to the edge the person is, don't be a dick.
If someone is a dick, don't assume that person doesn't have baggage and isn't like a wild animal with a paw caught in a metal trap.
This is a hostile, nasty world way too much of the time and a lot of it is because someone kicked us and we want payback. You can see that the snowballing of nastiness is inevitable when payback is the way we operate.
In the same way that we cannot know another person's burdens just by seeing him, we are not privy to an online person's state of mind and well-being.
We might assume everything important is shared on personal blogs because it appears that this is true. But it isn't. Most of what happens to us is also happening to our family members, friends, and acquaintances and we might rightly feel it isn't ours to share, especially when we are not anonymous.
So a lot of our baggage, our wounds, our hurts, our confusion, our pain might go unspoken or unwritten because it is not ours alone.
This leads me to the conclusion, one I ended a recent post with, that Vonnegut's admonishment to "be kind, babies" is the golden rule simplified for our current century.
We are not kind. We aren't. On the whole, we are snarky, mean, snide, and in a continual attempt to one up our insults.
There has to be a way to talk about disagreements in opinions without demeaning others but without needing to walk on eggshells.
I have had a steep learning curve over the last four years.
I started Countering four years ago--it was Countering Age of Autism and you can go way back into the blog archives and read a lot of mean, snarky things I wrote.
I've said over the last year plus that those things were wrong. I forgot that the other side were still people who had their own baggage, their own load of hurt to carry. And I piled on, and I excused that because they did it, too. They were even nastier. As if two wrongs could ever make a right.
And I stepped away--I got hit enough with ugliness that I realized it really hurt. It made my life worse. And it was a wake up call that I was doing the same thing-hurting people...
I really got that when I started volunteering at hospice nearly two years ago. I hope that a person can't sit with a dying person, offer support to a family losing a loved one, and still go out there and be shitty to others. I recognize that they can and do, but I think that's an even bigger shame when they do.
I said this week we are all walking wounded.
We are. We don't share our wounds for fear of salt being deliberately rubbed into them, and there are people who will happily do that for us.
We can't paint people into dicks and not-dicks, though (and I know that's inelegant to say it that way, but there you are). The reality is we are both, sometimes simultaneously.
So if we're both, if we have the capacity to show tremendous empathy to one group while shitting on another, what do we do with that?
Weep a bit, I think.
I called this piece "White Flag. Uncle." I called it that for a reason. I am beyond bone weary. I am tired of all of the ugliness in the world. I am tired of how easy it is to pile on to another person's baggage.
I am tired and hurting.
And I can't deal with the internet's ugliness, the need of so many to be the top dog of douchebaggery. At least not while I'm tapering off of my anti-depressant, to be completely open and honest. Just doing that alone is such a tremendous bitch that I want to hide until the SSRI discontinuation syndrome I've been dealing with for three months now finally freaking finishes.
I am beyond grateful for the support of my online and real-world friends, people who know the behind-the-blog real life hurts and struggles we are dealing with, the things I will not write about because they're not just my stories and I don't have to right to put out other people's pain and struggles out there.
It has not been an easy few years, to be completely honest. I'm not sure that any of us are so blessed as to not deal with loss, with hurt, with tragedy, and struggle and illness, and sometimes, despair.
I try to be honest, to always be true to who I am and what I believe. I try to share that as fully as I can because I believe some of the things we deal with in life we have to put out there--we can't change society if we hide who we are and what we struggle with.
So I'm as honest as I can be about my own neurological delights. I own my obsessive interests, my anxiety, my panic attacks, and to a lesser degree my depression--see, I still get up everyday and do what I need to do many of those days--somedays I honestly can't do it--it isn't depression but illness (but those two things can look identical). I just can't. Something's got to give. I try to make sure that's not my kids or my students but there are days my body will not let me go into the classroom. There have been days over the last year plus that bed was it--that's where I was. That's where I stayed.
Three weeks ago one of my students died. I grieve his loss, the potential he had, that I didn't get to know him better, how his loss has impacted many of my students and his family and friends.
This week my husband lost one of his sisters unexpectedly. And I hurt for him and that I can't fix it, can't lessen his loss or speed his grief.
So many of the people I care so deeply about are hurting, are dealing with their own losses, struggles, challenges. And I hurt for them as I know they hurt for me.
I give. I can not and will not intentionally hurt someone just because he or she is online and said something I disagree with, any more than I would do it to someone I know in the offline world.
I don't know how we get there-how we talk about differences without hurting other people, but I can't see any other way through this than to remember it doesn't matter if we meant no harm if we cause harm. It just doesn't. Quit arguing it isn't what you meant, and just put yourself in that other person's place, because you are there--you've lived that-someone's unintentionally hurt you, and you tell them and they keep insisting they didn't mean to hurt you, and you know that doesn't matter a bit as long as they won't see your pain.
No matter how we try to avoid hurt, we screw up...we're human. I pissed someone off this week with a post--I'll assume there was hurt underneath that anger. I apologized. I tried to make it right. It doesn't cost me anything to try to see it from the other side. Other than the need to be right. It doesn't mean the apology fixed it. It doesn't. I learned from the experience, though, and I think a part of me just capitulated, but that may be more because of the other things I won't talk about online than the online experience itself.
Be kind, babies.
How hard is that, really?
To just be kind?
And if you can't? Just walk away.