Grey Hell

To every parent trapped in the grey hell of knowing their parents are toxic af yet wanting their children to have a relationship with their grandparents and for that to miraculously not turn out badly.

It’s exhausting. It’s mystifying. It’s incredibly painful. It is a true, unsustainable limbo. It’s the fine line between being a hard nosed hypocrite and a spineless snowflake. Or maybe. Maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m still dibbling in the koolaid. I mean. How is demanding that your extremely young children be surrounded by people who aren’t going to shatter their tiny hearts with narcissism and manipulation being a hyprocrite?

Do I know my children are going to encounter narcissists and manipulators? Yep. Add in there all the other types of people I don’t want them to get hurt by but know that they will. There’s a difference though, in knowing it’s going to happen at some point and dropping them off there for an afternoon.

How does blood justify the inability to communicate the most basic things? How does blood justify the refusal to acknowledge our family as a whole? It… doesn’t. If anything, their blood is a witness against their ability to understand what family is supposed to be.

And I for one, will no longer be silent. I will be sassy. I will be cheeky. I will say things to purposefully send them into a tizzy because when their buttons involve the basic dignity of oppressed communities – I say we just go for it at that point. Because, like american republicans, I just cannot take them seriously anymore. To pretend as if this is any sort of normal is just too much. I’m done. I’m done with truth not being a thing, making up facts and restating them loudly to prove some sort of point, of talking down to people, of treating others like social pariah’s for NOT listening to baseless facebook conspiracy theories, and casually deciding that the health of every neighbor, every friend, every disliked acquiantence is worth LESS than my discomfort level at covering my face in public. And I am 100% done with them treating any form of consequence for their gross, destructive, oppressive, insane behavior as the basest of insults to their very existence.

Them: “Can you believe all of this? A stolen election.”

Us: “There is actually no evidence -“

Them: “Well there is if you’re not brainwashed by the mainstream media.”

Us: “Like what?”

Them: “Did you watch that Tucker Calson clip circulating on facebook?”

Us: “No.”

Them: “Well if you’re not even interested in finding out the truth for yourself then why would I waste my time trying to show you the truth you’ll deny anyway? You know you weren’t always like this. You used to be such a godly girl. I bet its all the gays you hang out with.”

Us: “The gays?”

Them: “Yes. Your morally devoid friends.”

Us: “That I met volunteering?”

Them: “At a women’s clinic where they have ABORTIONS. YES.”

Us: “They also treat all sorts of mental health and fertility -“

Them: “I will not listen to your justifications of baby murder. Honestly. They should just cage those women up like the filthy immigrants bringing the china virus defying our LAWS-“

Us: “Actually, seeking assylum is not illegal -“

Them: “How would you know what’s legal and not? You won’t even say the pledge of allegiance!”

Us: “It is possible for me to know legal from not without pledging my allegiance to a system I was born in that I don’t necessarily agree with-“

Them: “You entitled snowflake! You could have been born in China where they kill Christians or a socialist country where your poverty is guaranteed or -“

Us: “Hear me out, though, democratic socialism is a thing -“

Them: “Of course you’re a communist! You always wore black on Easter and I always said it was bad luck and now you’re a communist. Next thing you’ll be a democrat.”

Us: *Silence*

Them: *whisper* “You didn’t.”

Us: “At this point what on earth do you think I would vote for that abuser -“

Them: “Biden is only being used by the Clintons! He’s not right in the head! He can’t even finish a sentence!”

Us: “Have you… no, you know what – I really just will not sit here and listen to extremely ignorant and certifiably false statements that cause harm to people I love anymore.”

Them: “How DARE you be ungrateful for all that we have done for you!?”

*The above conversation is a amalgamation of many conversations I have had with many family members over the past 4 years in which I realized that people I once looked up to have gone COMPLETELY off the rails and I don’t want them anywhere near my life or my family.

And granted, I am still close with family members I don’t see eye to eye with. This is not about striking a match with every relative you have a disagreement with. This is about removing yourself from endless cycles of insanity.

And protecting your kids from it too.

I have no doubt that one day my kids are going to be quite livid with me about choices I made about their childhood. I have definitely yelled (and apologized) to my mom about it and forgave her and acknowledged she was doing the best she could. I hope my kids give me the same grace, someday. Because we all fuck up. I apologize to my kids at least every week. I recieve apologies from them at least once a week. We, none of us, are perfect. But we keep trying.

We don’t belittle them for who they are.

We don’t take every mistake as a personal insult.

We don’t punish them for being different than us.

We don’t try to force them into believing anything under threat of eternal torture.

We do not start crying and yelling when they ask us for an apology or point out a wrong we did.

We do not place our convenience above their health.

In conclusion: I have tried, and tried, and tried to keep the peace. If the peace is dependent on me being ignored, belittled, and attacked – Fuck the peace. That is not a peace worth keeping. And these are not people allowed on my island, in my bliss, in my safe spaces, or – absolutely necessarily – in positions of authority or privilege with my kids.

Sharp Knives

I have let a lot of things and a lot of people disturb my bliss. Parents to classmates to teachers to – I’m ashamed to admit it – fellow parishioners, boyfriends, lady friends, girlfriends, and siblings. Hell, even a few times some random people at the grocery store. But I am thankful to be able to say that the last decade has actually taught me some lessons that I’ve successfully absorbed.

One of them was beautifully and succinctly put by a good friend the other day. “Sometimes,” she said, “you have to guard your bliss with many sharp knives.”

I had been asking her advice in a situation in which I mostly knew the answer, but it was difficult to see entirely clearly. The conclusion was definitely, and absolutely to keep the person requesting re-entry into my life quite out of it.

Which I found particularly interesting considering the reconciliation that had happened less than a month ago. The circumstances were eerily similar. Two e-mails, two relationships that had ended around a year ago, two women that I had once valued as dear friends.

And two very different answers. The first damn near broke my eyelids as my eyes popped open, consumed the e-mail in record time, reread it in order to confirm it was really there, and then fired off an apology and an acceptance together before my lips had touched a single drip of coffee.

The other I sat with uncomfortably for days, trying to see past the plea in the e-mail that was tugging at me to remember the relationship that my gut was telling me might cause far more harm than good.

And it has led me to evaluate both current and former relationships in new ways. While we all have established patterns, so many of which need healing, there are relationships that go in circles, and relationships that move forward. Like tree growth, personal growth can also be measured in how far we reach down and how far we reach up. Relationships that go in circles are not introspective, nor straining for anything. They are cycles of repeated patterns that are destructive and increasingly draining.

Whereas relationships that grow… can change those habits. When a destructive pattern is recognized, it is changed. It is named. It is recognized. And ownership is taken for its consequences.

And if there is one thing my friendship group has been learning, it’s cutting people out who do not take ownership for their actions. Be it shitty parents, in-laws, neighbors, old friends, or partners. Because it is those people, trapped in their own cycles of destruction that will wreak havoc on your bliss. They will crash through it like a cat on adderal at 3am and then blame the dog. And they will do it over and over again.

Your bliss, by the way, is your peace of mind, your life’s stability and general calm. I like to think of my bliss as my dining room table at dinner. When we are all around it, sharing a meal, the voices of my favorite people, resting in each other, investing in each other, and recharging. People who wreck it are bringing divides into it, stealing your rest, silencing voices, or bringing so much of their own chaos that your bliss is lost in the background.

And we all deal with this at one time or another. We all put up with inconveniences to our bliss. Like that judgmental aunt at Thanksgiving, it happens. But that aunt isn’t in our daily life, because if she was we’d be murderers. And that’s bad.

But it isn’t always as easy to see as Aunt Mc-Why-Are-You-Still-Single? It can be friends who are in your life because you are an anchor while it feels like their life is spinning out of control. It can be an ex who wants to relive the drama. It can be your parents refusing to see you as an independent adult. It can be a controlling partner.

And even more confusing, sometimes we are all shitty to one another at times, or need an anchor in our lives, or have to be divisive in another person’s bliss when we see something hurting them that they refuse to acknowledge – nothing about human interactions is easy or clear cut.

And a lot of us did not have the protection from our parents or nuclear family that we should have growing up. And I think it is that realization more than anything that got me. I have to keep this place safe for them. This blissful time together, their world, my energy given to them, our home, in everything I can, I will give them peace. So that they know what peace is. So that as they get older they can protect their own peace, their own home, their own bliss. Whether their bliss is polyamory or monogamy, heterosexual or homosexual, single or partnered, kids or no, adopted or no, artist or accountant, vegan or keto – they can be themselves. Safely. Peacefully. Blissfully.

It is the only way to keep ourselves sane enough to be the activist humans the world needs. We have to have a safe place to go. And we have to protect it with the word “no”. No, you cannot talk to me that way. No, I will not be the person you text when you’re drunk. No, you cannot say that to my child. No. No. No.

Our words can be the sharpest knives we have, and the strongest binding we posses. Use them wisely.

Or, use them to promote baseless conspiracy theories on social media and delegitimize a democracy for the sake of your cult. Really, up to you.