Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Struggle, pressure and stress…oh my!

This is a long one that probably deserved to be more than one post. But it’s my stream-of-consciousness, mind-dump attempt to grasp at a little bit of sanity.

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I’m struggling…

With having the coming out talk with my family

With the physical separation from my beloved

With getting control of work/life balance

With self care

With being at ease in my freedom, identity, accomplishments

I’m struggling to be comfortable in my own skin.

Why?

I’ve been the odd, ostracized, misfit, nerdy fat girl my entire life and have grown used to what that means and have been happy (at least content) with my own company, enough within myself, and sufficient on my own. I’ve had the companionship of my siblings and a few close friends. I have a career in which I’ve excelled. I’ve had books and music and movies and art to make my life well rounded and comfortable. So what if I was alone? I was all I needed and had everything my simple tastes required.

But that’s a lie. A lie my mind insisted upon to balm the wound of not being alone, but of being lonely. A lie the world helped me perpetuate by filling my time and senses with entertainment and social media and shiny, unnecessary things. A lie that even my faith made persistent by condemning the existence that would shatter my complacency and bring the opportunity for happiness, for true joy.

As my blog’s tag line says, I have awoken to the lie, the emptiness of that false existence, and have begun the process of living my life and seizing my happiness.

Yet, I am struggling.

Lately, “stress” and “pressure” and “struggle” seem to be recurring themes in my life. But I grow weary of them. It’s time to figure it out & fix it.

Stress is unavoidable, both at work and in personal life. It’s a fact of life that, for the most part, I deal with pretty well in terms of my profession and the every-day. But the stress from new aspects of my life I didn’t anticipate (naive, much?) and it’s taking some getting used to. Increased responsibility, changing family dynamics, learning as I go how to be a good partner, all of these are welcome challenges and the stress endemic to them will eventually subside. But it is wearying.

Struggle and pressure, for me, are linked. I feel pressure, both steady and sometimes increasing, to do and think and say certain things, or behave a certain way or be a certain kind of person. When I feel that pressure I take a hard look at its source and do my best to make a reasoned decision on how or if to respond. The struggle comes when I am uncertain if the pressure is righteous, deserving of reaction, or if I don’t know how to respond.

That’s my problem right now: uncertainty. There’s a block, an invisible obstacle that I can’t name and take away its power.

Part of it is that I don’t know all of the things I need to do. I feel like I only have half the picture and a quarter of the pieces needed to complete the puzzle. How, what steps, what method do I use to find the missing pieces? Who can I turn to for help? Isn’t asking for help admitting defeat or error? Shouldn’t I be able to handle this myself? After all, the core issue is my identity. Who better to identify and overcome related challenges than me? Yet, I still struggle.

Part of it, too, is that I’m weary. I’m so tired of having to fight for recognition, acceptance, support. My petulant internal mind screams that I’ve done enough, earned these golden blessings and demands to have them NOW, without further ado. Then the part of my mind trained from birth to conform, be quiet, not make waves, responds by shushing that screaming, admonishing me to be still, put my head down and work some more.

But that thin sliver of my self that exists between the screamer and the shusher, that relatively rational adult independent thinker, says there’s got to be something in between the hard-line demand and the unrequited effort. There’s got to be balance, a reward of some type, to encourage future excellence and diligence.

Right?

So where does that leave me? Let’s take stock:

I am immeasurably blessed. I have a beloved partner who loves and accepts me and supports me in all things. I have siblings and niblings whom I love and who love me. I have a good job that is intellectually challenging and professionally fulfilling. I have a warm, safe home full of comfort and plenty. There is clean air and water, abundant food, clothes, tools, vehicles and things of every type to make my life easy and comfortable. I have everything I need and more in terms of material gifts. I am loved and supported and mature enough to carry the blessings and burdens alike.

So what’s the challenge? What are the missing pieces I complain of?

First, what do I do about talking to my family? They know, now, that I’m gay and that I’m in love with my beloved Special Femme. Yet that information wasn’t given to them by me and there is still a significant amount of tension in my home. There’s an expectation that I’ll “come clean”, approach the throne and confess to be forgiven and set things right. (Yes, that’s my bitterness and snark showing in that sentence. I won’t apologize for it.) So, the first hurdle appears to be stubbornness and, perhaps, pride. Mine, my family’s, or both is not yet clear. What’s missing? A way to approach this discussion without judgement on either side, as well as an opportunity to begin.

Second, what comes next? Once everything is truly out (pun intended), what then? Yeah, I know, enjoy the relief and live your life. I get that. But what does that life look like? Even without the pressure of hiding a vital part of myself, I’m still in the same spot: in my mid-40s, living in an unconventional family arrangement, in a house too small for two complete families and separated from my beloved by 9,000 miles and three oceans. Where’s the path to living my life of happiness?

One of the missing pieces, I think, is why this is still a struggle, why haven’t I fixed this yet? I am a creature of comfort and this pressure, stress and struggle is uncomfortable. Why hasn’t the discomfort served to prod me, get me moving in the right direction?

Excellent question.

I think the pervasiveness, the sheer magnitude of the consequences of reacting to this pressure is so significant that the fear of the possible outcome is greater than the discomfort of the ongoing pressure. Hence: stagnation.

The Quandry: My immediate family now know I’m gay, but they found out by means I find objectionable (forcing my partner to admit our relationship when I wasn’t around, outing me in abstentia against her will). Ever since, there’s been silence on the subject. The tension from what’s unspoken on all sides is mounting. They’ve relayed a clear message that I must be the one to come to them, make a confession and receive their reaction.

Yet I feel that responding to this relayed demand for my confidences is capitulation, or at least a diminished, eroded form of communication that may end up crippling a formerly robust family relationship that is extremely important to me.

I want to be mature and approach the whole discussion with love, free from accusation and rancor. Yet I feel an obligation to hold them accountable for their treatment of Lulu. I also feel a duty to my identity and dignity to resist my freedom to be authentic being subrogated to their feeling hurt by my not choosing to confide in them this deepest, truest part of me.

What to do? At this point I’ll consider all serious suggestions, but reserve the right to reject them all and go with my gut at any moment…which may mean grabbing Lulu and running away to join the circus.

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In Which I Rant About Rants…

I’m bound to make myself unpopular (too late!) with this post. So be it. Everyone else seems to go on these raging rants on Twitter and Face Book, spewing vitriol and expecting agreement and support. Well, here are my thoughts, as cogently and calmly delivered as possible, and I expect nothing from anyone. They’re my thoughts, posted on my blog, for my own personal gratification. I hope you read and appreciate the thoughts, even if you disagree. But I don’t ask for or expect anything of you. This was on my mind and I’m sharing it.

Oh, and for those of you expecting a post updating on my coming out to my family and my visit with Lulu over the last month…be patient, please. I’m working on it. 🙂

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Despite my undergraduate degree in Political Science and my Juris Doctor degree and my 15+ year practice as an attorney, I am not a political creature. Believe it or not, I really don’t care for the angst, tension and drama surrounding American and world politics at every level like a poisonous cloud. It’s nature is anathema to my peaceful, quiet-seeking mind.

But you can never truly get away from it. Even eschewing traditional media sources that focus on political issues and commentary, it’s ubiquity is unavoidable. Looked at ESPN or FoxSports lately? Full of commentary on things unrelated to team sports in anything but the most tertiary fashion. What about prime time tv? Can’t even watch a sitcom without a dose of ‘agenda programming’ by at least one pole in the spectrum. And social media? Forget it. Scroll through your timeline on any given platform on any given day and if you don’t see posts and tweets and retweets of every political cause going, count yourself lucky.

What’s my beef with it all, you ask? It’s news and current events, don’t you want to be informed and activist for your causes?

Yes, I want to contribute to the interests that concern me or resonate with me. And no, I don’t have a problem with news reporting by anyone, or even expressing editorial or personal opinion.

What I really object to, especially in the rants I see on social media, is the critical judgement imposed on those who question, are skeptical until convinced, and probe for deeper meaning or clarity of argument. Those who don’t simply nod in agreement, jump to catch the bandwagon and fall into lockstep with the ranting professor of opinion are vilified in the cruelest way. And the base tactic of implying insanity, low intelligence, even malice or evil when stating these polarizing opinions , I find repugnant.

The latest issue to catch my eye is the fad of demonizing anyone who has more than a few dollars in their pocket and even hints at any form of conservative viewpoint. It doesn’t matter the core issue or message, if the person speaking/writing/performing is perceived to have money and has conservative opinions, they’re the devil. Even those in marginal groups. If you aren’t living from paycheck to paycheck and don’t believe in forced redistribution of wealth, your opinion on anything, even your own field of expertise, is questionable at best, and your personal value as a human is nil.

The existence of wealth of any level seems to have become a disqualifier for being valued as a person. Even if the wealth (or perception of it) is totally unrelated to the matter at hand, it’s trotted out as a reason to question the person’s motives, integrity, veracity, intelligence and humanity.

Sound familiar to anyone?

The same thing has been done relative to every form of differentiator of human condition over time. Race, creed, color, nationality, gender, sexuality, you name it, it’s been used as a foil to hold down an entire population.

But economic status is no more linked to inherent value of persons than any of those other attributes.

I don’t understand why we allow ourselves to be gulled by media and social pressure into devaluing our fellow humans on the basis of these un-related attributes and characteristics. Focusing on the words and actions of each person individually is the only way I know of to avoid the fallacy of collective, stereotypical prejudice.

Please…do have your opinion, and make it a strong one, on any issue you like. Cultivate views on every condition facing this world today and into the future. Even form preferences and affinities for or against any given thing or idea.

But please…judge your fellow humans individually on their personal merits as demonstrated in their action and speech, not collectively based on any arbitrary characteristic or attribute associated with any group or population.

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