I am a woman. And though my great grandparents were immigrants, I have not struggled their struggles. I am a woman of "white privilege". But I am also a woman of compassion. A woman of love. And I do my best to step back and run around things from every possible perspective in order to reach a deeper understanding of the bigger picture... in order to get closer to truth... truth which is inclusive... it includes all perspectives, because we are all looking at the same point. I don't know if anyone else is having this problem... but I have been looking at the events in the world around me and feeling that my brain is splintering. I am trying so hard to run around it from every possible perspective and reach some kind of understanding... some kind of acceptance... trying to find that bridge that can bring it all together where the oneness is revealed... and I just can't seem to process it. The wheels are turning in so many directions at once that I think my brain may actually explode... so I cried last night. I have spent the last couple of weeks making phone calls and sending letters to my legislators about current issues, but I did not march yesterday. I have great respect for the many who did, but I was asking myself as I watched it, however moving, "What exactly are we marching for?" I mean, I understand the feeling behind it and the policies that are threatening it; but in reality, looking at this group of people marching, there are so many needs to be met, so many injustices and inequalities to be resolved... and I just don't know what it is that humanity really needs to resolve them. I don't think it really starts or stops in the white house. I don't think any law or any protest or any change in representation is going to do it. I cried for what seemed like the absence of a solution... I cried for my own inability to identify the common thread... I cried for the lesson that cannot yet be identified... I know it is there and I know it will come, but I cried for the pain of the interim.
I went to sleep feeling somewhat positive, though still uncertain. I may not have marched, but I did feel uplifted by the number of people who seem to stand for unity and I even allowed myself the consideration that perhaps sometimes some division may be necessary to restore unity. I saw that there are people who believe in equality, who believe in goodness, and who believe that individuals can make a difference. And while I have no idea how that difference will be made, or when it will come, people standing together in unity is always a deliverance of hope. So I went to sleep reflecting on all of this, but I didn't wake up.
I mean, I did wake up eventually, but not until after severe hypoglycemic shock delivered a somewhat out-of-body experience complete with convulsions and profuse sweating and nausea and coldness that seemed to seep right through my bones. It is mentally disorienting and physically exhausting, to say the least... the very least... But this is how I began my morning. This is how I begin more mornings than I would like. When my alarm went off at 4:30 I was still shivering and sweating and noxious and rattled and now sleep-deprived as well. I did not want to get up. It occurred to me that maybe I could call my workplace and just tell them I would be an hour late. Then it occurred to me that that conversation would turn into an hour long discussion requiring me to justify in detail the reason for this lateness.... and I realized that by that point, I would be awake. So, I stumbled to the shower, and I got myself ready with great effort, and I headed to work. And as I was doing this I felt frustrated and tired and misunderstood and slightly less capable and well, just not really seen for what I put in. And I realized something...
I have a disability. I have an invisible disability that most people don't really understand or even consider a disability. This is one of the reasons I have been writing my legislators about a replacement for the ACA (not because I am currently using in, but because I understand the dilemma of the millions who are). When I tell someone I am a type 1 diabetic, they say, "Oh, so you can't have sugar? That sucks." And that's pretty much the end of it. They do not understand the extra thought and planning that goes into the daily maintenance of this autoimmune disease, nor how disastrous and debilitating it can be when that maintenance doesn't quite maintain. They do not understand all of the complexities and complications. I have always said that I can do anything anyone else can do, and I can (well except for fly or drive a bus), with the proper planning and maintenance. I do not want special treatment. I don't think of myself as different. I don't want to be treated as such... but sometimes.... there are moments when I do wish that someone understood how much harder a simple task can be on a day like today. There are moments when I wish that someone would consider that I am working a little harder just to live through another day. There are moments when there is too much thinking and worry. There are moments when it feels like too much... I recognized this feeling within myself. I recognized that what I really want, is just someone to occasionally acknowledge the weight that I carry. I also recognized that there are a million other disabilities, many much more debilitating, and I don't understand the complications of any of those. If we don't see it, we don't generally inquire. If it has not affected ourselves or someone in our family, we have no idea what complexities arise from any condition. And from this recognition I launched myself back into that circle of figuring out what it all means.
I came to the realization that I want to be heard and seen... not necessarily "as an equal", but AS I AM. And there is a difference. Embracing diversity is not really about "equal" treatment. It is not about treating everyone the same. Embracing diversity is about seeing each individual as they are and taking into consideration their individual needs and celebrating the differences. We are all united, but we are also different. We need to try to understand those differences and to connect to each other, not in spite of them, but through them. How do we do that? We learn to listen... and we also learn to express... and we also learn not to assume. And maybe... that is all that any of us needs...
I realized that I did not ask for what I needed this morning. I assumed that someone would not understand. I made that decision. And then I felt a hardship because of it. It occurred to me that perhaps I am not the only one to do this. Yes, racism and bigotry and misogyny are real and do exist. But perhaps there are times when we all make assumptions. Perhaps there are times when I assume it will or will not go a certain way because I am a woman. Perhaps there are times when people who have spent their whole lives being discriminated against assume that it cannot get better or assume that a new person is casting the judgments established through an old interaction. I believe that we sometimes isolate ourselves by assuming that others will not understand. Yes, sometimes people do not understand, but more often than not, I think there is at least one who will listen... if we give them the chance.
Perhaps we need to COMMUNICATE. And I am aware that I am taking a whole slew of complex issues and reducing it down to one simple statement... but the solution has to start somewhere. Think of this as a step. Maybe we should all start looking at where the division comes from and asking ourselves how to remedy it in our daily interactions. I may not have control over whatever laws or policies do or do not get put in place and I may not be able to put a stop to all discrimination, but I can make a vow to communicate with others on a daily basis and do my best to overcome it wherever I can. I can make a vow to listen... to all of my brothers and sisters. I will make a vow to listen, and to ask, and to not assume. I will make a vow to do my best to understand and to respect and to learn from all of our differences. I hope that some of you will make this vow with me. Whether or not you march and whether or not you write your legislators, whether or not you believe that Trump will somehow make this country better and whether or not you even know what exactly it is that you stand for; I hope that you will recognize with me the number of people who are feeling unseen and unheard... and I hope that you, in your daily life, will decide to LISTEN.