Rants in my pants

Ariane sitting at window

Here's a truthbomb for you: I'm not going to get better.

Before you jump in with a barrage of platitudes, please just check your healthy privilege. This isn't about the "what-ifs" and the "maybe somedays". This is about reality, this is about my reality. And if I sound angry, it's because I am angry, and I bloody should be.

This is about looking at what has happened so far, and predicting what will happen in the coming years based on reality. Every month I've gotten sicker. Since five years ago, when I was still able (albeit, with difficulty) to work 30 hours a week, keep myself fed, and keep my home respectably in order all on my own, things have gone so far downhill I can't even see where I started anymore. I can't do any of that now. I can't work. I can't take care of myself or my home without help. I'm no longer financially independent. I can't go most places on my own, and I can't go anywhere without a mobility aid. I can't travel (the two small attempts have been miserable failures). And I've lost a significant chunk of my prime career building, not to mention childbearing years, to chronic illness that has continued to go un(der)-diagnosed. Yes, I cope. I try and make the most of things. But the reality is crushing.

This morning I read this article on xoJane about apologizing. The part that stuck out at me wasn't the main point of it, though:

Our reluctance to say sorry when we’ve been wrong often causes more harm than our original offense. We argue, we gaslight. We force the person we’ve harmed to justify, over and over again, their right to feel hurt by our actions, and then we still deny them that. We make them the enemy, we become the injured party. We demand apologies for having to think of ourselves as less than good people. And we don’t learn. - Ijeoma Oluo 

I only learned the term gaslighting more recently, but the phenomenon is familiar. It's something I've lived through over and over. From when I was somewhere around five years old, my feelings were not only invalidated, but I was made to feel like I was crazy, overreacting, too sensitive, too emotional... When I got picked on, harassed, and bullied, I'd get upset - I'd try and stand up for myself, but beneath the surface I was internalizing all of it. Eventually I would crumple emotionally, and run away to cry my face off.

I've been pondering recently...

Social media makes life - even personal life - oddly impersonal. We click "like" and feel like we've REALLY supported someone (emotionally, or in their work), instead of actually giving real tangible support. For example, someone is fundraising for a project or a charity, or showing their artwork, and we click "like" and feel like we did something good to support them, when really we did nothing. We no longer feel any obligation to actually put our energy or money where our mouth (or mouse?) is. We don't really show up for people.
We post our thoughts and feel like we're actually talking to people, but when we read people's posts, we feel like they weren't really trying to communicate with us. So few people will actually respond to a meaningful or heartfelt post in any earnest or genuine way. We'd rather assume it wasn't for us, or maybe we feel uncomfortable, and we decide it's best to do nothing.

Health is not binary. People who are chronically and/or mentally ill may indeed be "sick" (a term with a huge amount of complexity in its own right), but we are not on any given day A) sick or B) not sick. These conditions can be lifelong or last many years, going through flares and remissions. But we are not just "sick", we are people with hobbies, partners, friends, and if possible, jobs. Our illness(es) may feel all encompassing at times, but they are not us. They are only a part of us - people who are just as complex and nuanced as any. And yet, it seems at times that there are absurd standards, perceptions, and expectations about what someone who is "sick" looks like. This only exacerbates our already complicated relationships with our bodies.

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Over the last few weeks and through holiday socializing, I had couple of interesting commentaries from people in my life about my art and wanting to do creative work. The comments were very different, and very entertaining and thought provoking... One essentially compared the idea of trying to do creative work for a living to wanting to get paid for being a professional slacker. The other, from someone who came by and saw a drawing I'd done recently, was shock and awe, as in: I know you doodled, but this is really good...like you can really draw!

Black Friday. It's that time again. A time of gratitude, turkey (in the US), and crazy purchasing mania that makes me nauseous. But I'll save you the lecture I really want to give about externalities, sweatshops, and consumerism. My Black Friday mantra? Just say no.

Ever since the one time I went Boxing Day shopping as a teenager, I will admit I've had a strong aversion to big sales and blitzes. The hungry crowds are too much for me. But nowadays even though the internet would let me easily avoid the mayhem, thanks to the blessing in disguise of a home with little storage space and the budget consciousness bestowed upon me by my health collapse, I've been working on being more conscious and conscientious about what I spend money on.

I like to make most decisions based on these factors:

It was so timely that a friend posted this short talk by Brené Brown today, on not focusing on your critics. Just last night, while we were getting ready for bed, I said to Bruno, "If people think writing and talking about health problems and friendship changes and life challenges is so negative, why is it those topics exactly that I get such an intense response to?"

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I've had a few people confront me over the last few years about being "negative" online - I'm sure a lot more than that have had the same thought. And I guess I can understand why some people might find talking about challenges to be a negative thing. Trying to have your life appear perfect to the outside world is pervasive, both online and off. Perfect and pretty is nice and everything, but the truth is that connection doesn't happen over the fluff. Not real connection.

There are so many posts I should write, I could write, but sometimes something just gets under my skin and I have to get it out. Regardless of who it may offend, though it's not meant to...

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I keep seeing more and more communities, events, online projects, hashtags, etc. that are targeted towards women and branded with infinite varieties of "moms" or "mommies" or "mamas".

On one hand, I can understand that motherhood is a HUGE and identity changing shift in a woman's life. But I hope that the women who organize and participate in and promote these realize how in-your-face the exclusion of women without children it is.

There's this thing I keep seeing on the internet, all over Instagram and peoples' blogs, and OMG YOU NEED IT!!!!!!!

At least, that's what you keep saying. It sounds like there is a gaping hole in your life that will be filled if only you can just obtain this magical object! "Where is that rug from??? I need it!!!" "I need that scarf!" "OMG I need those salt and pepper shakers." "I need one of those triangle rings!!!" "I totally need to get a pair of those shoes, I loveeeeeee them!"

People. Just stop it.

I know things are pretty or cool or trendy, and you want to express that. So please, search the depths of your vocabulary for another way to express your compliments and desires. It's really not that hard. 

No, really. You do not NEED any of this stuff. 

How to be friends. This is something that I thought I knew how to do. The last year upon the last five years has got me seriously doubting this... It turns out I most likely know nothing.

I recently got on the Lifeboat boat, they've been asking interesting questions and writing interesting stories about friendship. There's a lot packed into their Lifeboat Practices... there's some real gold in there. There are also some harsh truths they've unearthed, truths that make me realize at least I'm not alone in my struggles.

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