Dear Abby’s Weight Bigotry and Misogyny… All in One Article!

Just in case you missed Dear Abby’s judgmental response to a young woman who signed her letter as ‘Offended in Chicago’. The link is here and will open in a separate window.

I am not sure why I read advice columns, since many make me angry… Dear Prudence and her consistent victim blaming and rape apologia, and Dear Abby often operates from a place of privilege and internalized misogyny. Once in a while one of these columnists will get it right and restore my hope that they can use their platforms for good. I will ignore the trolling and willful ignorance in the comments section… That is a rant for another day.

Cruelty and bullying is never okay.  Bigotry and oppression flourish in the dark, in silence of those who could speak out.  Please join me in speaking out.  This is not okay.

Dear Abby:

I cannot describe the absolute disgust and sadness that flooded me when I read your response to ‘Offended Daughter in Chicago’. This young woman’s mother was not the only one that was harsh. Your response went to a place of absolute brutality, cruelty, and sizeism… a form of bigotry. This young woman stated she was comfortable in her own skin, and reported that she felt attractive and comfortable dressing in shorts and a bikini top at her mothers. You went on the attack, making a number of assumptions that could include… (notice I say ‘could’ because I cannot attribute intent, however I can analyze the observable, which you printed):
-This young woman is unhealthy. You know her blood pressure, her cholesterol, her triglycerides, her overall physical conditioning and muscle to body fat ratio, and not just a calculated one based on a flawed formula.
-This young woman is making choices to be ‘obese’. PCOS, endocrine issues, and other health issues make losing weight very difficult for some.
-This young woman obviously has some misguided sense of pride to be accepting of herself, and accepting despite her mother’s judgement and cruelty masked as propriety, fat shaming, and concern trolling.
-Fat shaming is one of the last acceptable fronts in which to be a bully. Which you are.
-Society is obviously not telling this woman that she is outside what all women should ascribe to be… so you had to cut in and give another level of condemnation.
-Correlating this woman’s weight to her mother’s opinion/pride/regard? On what planet would anyone make a sweeping generalization of that nature on the little bit of information provided, but even the most ‘tone deaf’ as far as sensitivity can see that this relationship between mother and child is fraught with complexity.

I again, cannot assume your true intent, and I honestly do not want to. There are so many levels of internalized oppression and misogyny imbedded in these issues…

Abby, you have a powerful (figuratively) podium to do a lot of good, or harm. On August 10, you were intentionally cruel. Unacceptable It was not just limited to that young woman. A formerly battered woman who was still living with her abuser, who, unsurprisingly, was still using abusing power and control. This woman asked you for guidance, and you did not even Google resources for the domestic violence center in her region, and you stated that there was an expectation of financial reciprocity. I call BULL. She has a right to be safe, to be happy, to be respected, and to have her children grow in a home where she is not treated in the way that she is. In recent weeks you have given advice to others that basically, sex is a right of marriage without discussing power and control, consent, and other important issues. That in itself is internalized misogyny expressed.

Dear Abby, please use your column for good, as you have in the past. You can do better than this.

-Terri

Life is meant to be lived at full volume… 3 days post op.

Last Thursday I had surgery to repair my badly herniated incision from last August. As I write this from the comfort of my favorite chair, my geriatric kitty on my lap, I am thinking of this most recent medical journey and lessons I can learn, integrate, and use so I do not have to keep learning this particular message.

Now, three days out, I can reflect back on my experiences of the past month or so.  My surgical consult happened rather quickly after I was shaken out of denial-land on the 18th.  I saw the surgeon on the 27th, and the recommendation was surgery, sooner rather than later.  A date of 3rd was offered, and I had to decline due to needing time to prep a few things at home and at work, so the next date available was July 10th.  And how quickly did that date arrive!  State budget crisis, financial threat and all other deadlines be damned, it seems.  My best friend’s mother arrived at my place at 5:30am to have me at the hospital at 6am for my 7:25am surgery.  Check in was uneventful, and all the surgical appointment discussions were reiterated.  They were going to do their best to do this laparoscopically so my recovery time would be shorter, etc.  If scar tissue was too much an issue, then I would awake to the reopening on my mid-line incision, and instead of a short/overnight hospitalization I would be in 3-4 days and off 6-8 weeks instead of two.

I awoke in the Recovery Department with little pain in my midsection, the nursing staff told me I had 13 ‘poke holes’ or access/scope sites and my incision had been opened at the top by about 3 inches or so.  That was good news.  The not-s0-great-news was I was getting horrific migraine, with sound and light sensitivity.  The bad news was there were no hospital beds available, and I would have to wait in recovery until they found one.  The first time I awoke that I remember was just before 10am, and I was in Recovery until after 4pm.  Dr. Page stopped by to dash my hopes of just going home… since the surgery was a bit more extensive, I was definitely there overnight.  Fabulous!  They finally got my migraine managed… and not for lack of trying on their part… it was a bad one.  I was sent up to my room, and they pulled my Foley before I left recovery.  I did tell them that getting my bladder to wake up had been a problem with my hysterectomy in 2007 resulting in a re-catheterization, and after my tumor removal last August, resulting in a subsequent catheterization.  I was sent up to the room, to a semi private room.  Then the real fun began!

Although this surgery was no where as invasive or life saving as the previous one, it is extremely painful.  I asked to get up my first night, and I set no personal records, bent over shuffling along.  I think the nursing staff were sick of my requests to 1- shower and 2- walk.  I had lots of lovely visitors my first day, and the first morning.  The overnight was tough.  Narcotics do little to nothing for my pain, and I am allergic to almost all non narcotic and NSAIDs, so pain was an issue, and feeling sick was an issue.  I would stop taking pain meds for a 12 hour shot, then be a mess.  It was a cycle I experienced the last hospitalization.  The first night they used a straight catheter and drained my bladder.  My bladder was so full, and I was in so much pain, the poke was a walk in the park.  I also was in roommate hell.  She was a sweet lady, and I suspect she would have been most upset to know how miserable I was because of her noisy guests who stayed until after 12 midnight (newsflash stage whispers and kisses are LOUD) and her use of her TV at audible volume all night.  I did not sleep any.  I could have said something, but my feeling was this… I was uncomfortable, cranky, and most likely not going to sleep anyway… if she derived comfort from these things, and could sleep (and sleep she did as evidenced by the sleep talking and snoring) then one of us could have a decent night.  The next morning, I was informed that my lack or urination more than likely would result in an extended stay.  They drained me again with a straight cath (OUCH) and I asked to walk, and to shower.  I knew that walking and the hot water would wake my sleepy bladder, but I was getting a bit of resistance.  The other thing was, the surgeon who saw me at 6am said I could shower, and I could go home as soon as I peed.  I was on a mission…  and that mission was to pee at all costs…

<Cue the mission impossible music…>

I walked or sat in my chair every moment I was not examined by any nursing or medical staff in the local area…  I repeatedly requested a shower, then very directly let my nursing staff know that a shower was happening, and they could assist with capping off my IV or I could do it myself (phebotomy training, no matter how remote, is a dangerous thing for Terri to have, BTW!) so they did, and I happily showered… and sweet relief… IN THE SHOWER!  OH MY GOD NO!  I peed, but I was so embarrassed I cried… it happened in the shower, and there was no proof of me peeing.  I finished my shower and cleaned the shower as best I could, and let the staff know.  They gave one another knowing looks like ‘SURE you did’ and did a scan to see how full my bladder was.  700.  Damn.  I peed again, and emptied over half.  They wanted to have me wait for a urologist, and wanted me to start a horrible medicine I took when I had the tumor related kidney stone.  Um NO.  I saw 3 doctors in the short time I was there prior to leaving (I had fully dressed and packed…I was going!) and explained that with the size of the Fallopian tumor (nearly 11lbs and from pelvic floor to past my umbilicus) that things worked different now, and although this was alarming to them, it was 11 month and counting old news to me.

My friend took me home, and I am so glad I made the decision to allow folks to stay with me, do things for me, and help me.  Getting in bed was not easy, and alone was a 30 minute and painful maneuver.   As the few days have passed, and I have completely stopped all oral narcotics I am doing so much better.  The nausea, the body aches and chills, etc. are all gone.  My midsection hurts.  It is very hard and swollen.  And this will be a bit of a process, but this has been just a bump in the road.

I am so grateful for my health, for my friends, and for my decision to be a healthy and physically active person.  I did myself some major favors by being in the best physical shape of my life before this, and I am confident I will be running again soon in 3 weeks or so.  I will follow doctor’s orders, but I refuse to live a life of excuses or to live on the safe side of the street.  I say it often… life is meant to be lived at full volume.  No one says this is easy, but I promise in the end, it will all be worth it.

Have a great week.  Thank you for reading, and I hope to be blogging about social justice, cats, and running before long!

13 'poke holes' and a small section of original incision reopened.  Very swollen belly!

13 ‘poke holes’ and a small section of original incision reopened. Very swollen belly!

A major health setback. Another opportunity to learn a life lesson I seem to be struggling with?

Last week sucked.  Sorry for impolite and crude vernacular, but it did.  I will not keep you in suspense, I herniated myself.  Less than a year after major abdominal surgery.  I am benched from lifting, I am benched from running, I am benched from the Ab Challenge, and I am seriously not happy at the moment.

Last Wednesday was day 18 of the Ab Challenge, and I had been kicking ass and taking names.  I was doing 3-4 times the level of everything I should be, and it was not that hard.  2 minutes and 30 seconds of nonstop planking.  400 crunches, 350 leg lifts, and 300 or 350 sit ups.  I was very pleased with myself, and was planning to add kettle bells the next week.  On this Wednesday, I planked, I crunched, and I started the leg lifts.  I was at home, and had just gotten up a short time before so I was still in my nightgown before I went out for a run.  (I had a race to run this Saturday).  I felt my nightgown pull in a weird way, looked down and a column roughly the size of a can of soda was rising from my abdomen.  I let out a terrified yelp, and stopped immediately.

This is where the lesson comes in.  I had suspected that possibly I might have a small incision related hernia, but I was in active denial, despite being told this was very, very likely, especially with the amount of working (sitting upright at a computer for hours on end) that I did immediately post surgery.  I had also been very, very fatigued for the past few days, fighting with myself to get going to work out, to run, etc. which is not me.  When I kicked my own ass out the door, I was not getting to my endorphin happy place and instead of a heart rate of 165-175 I was lucky to get out of the 130’s.  That is a HUGE red flag for me, as anytime this happens, I am about to get ill or injured.  But did I ‘get it’?  Oh no.  I filed it under the intellectual dump file of ‘oh isn’t that interesting… will investigate later…”  The exhaustion.  The fact I have been having lower GI issues more than usual since my new normal post surgery.  The fact that I am even less patient and willing to suffer idiots than normal.  This has been coming on for a bit, and instead of being in touch with myself, I have been focused on the 18 lbs I want to get back off, and my goal of the Harrisburg Half in September, and next year a full marathon, a mudder, and several other goals of that nature.  I have had tunnel vision once again.  And have been working too much, and on a scale of 1-10 my job is about a 16.

I called my primary care physician, and they got me in that afternoon.  I spent about 10 minutes sobbing on the floor of my apartment, just so frustrated, and I realized that I could continue to feel sorry for myself or I can own what I did to myself, and revise my timelines and focus on overcoming this bump in the road.  I have a surgical consult this Friday, just 5 days away.  For me, the unknown is the hardest.  I do not know if this can be fixed laparoscopically, if I will need mesh, if there is anything else happening… I am hoping for the best and will simply deal with whatever I am dealt.  All I do know is I feel about as bad as I did prior to the tumor 10 months ago.  Just scary as hell.

I have told several folks, including key coworkers, my board, several friends, and I continue to step out of my comfort zone with that. I have not told my biological family as we are not close like that, and until I know more, I simply cannot take the speculation and drama, and discussion of every horrible possibility that will obsessed upon.

I have had a huge kick in the pants.  I am not Superwoman.  I am not iron clad.  I will need help as I recover, and I will need help at the hospital whether it is a 23 hour hospitalization or a longer one.  I will not send folks away or discourage visits/being with me.  I will not go to ground and deal alone at home afterward.  I trust my friends to do right by me, but I have to allow them to, and I have to ask for what I need, rather than expecting it to happen organically if it is going to. That is a lesson learned.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that this a minor blip.  I want to get back into training mode, but I realize I must do what it takes to heal from this.  No rushing, and no more pushing myself in ways that only hurt me in the end.  Life is too short, and it seems that I have some things to contemplate, and some major decisions to make.

So sick of unsolicited ‘advice’

So- I was out with friends quite a bit this week, and as often happens when the food is good, the wine is flowing, and fun is being had… the discussion turned to dating, relationships and whatnot.  Now, I am divorced and have been single for the past 6 or so years, and am very happy with my singleness.  I tried dating a few times, and I did not enjoy it, and I realized that at that time, I did not want a relationship.  Period.

One would think that folks would realize that, and respect that.  But… NO.  Those who know me well know I was in committed relationships/married for 21 of 39 years when I divorced.  I have seen the best, and some of the worst, that relationships have to offer.  And being alone is new, and I am SIMPLY LOVING IT.  I have several friends that are in their early 40’s to mid 50’s and who are desperately wanting a relationship.  And more power to them… there is nothing better than a balanced relationship based on reciprocal respect, love and trust.

We were good naturedly teasing a friend who was regaling us with her latest hookup.  She then used that time to inform me that I could do that too, if I were not so damn intimidating and unapproachable.  The fact I am always dressed well/in dresses and skirts and the fact I am often freezing and that impacts my body posture was also pointed out.

SAY WHAT?  How did this become about me, and how is being confident in who I am, confident in my decision that I am ‘off the market’ and very happy and whole single, become something negative?  Later, I had a couple of male friends who are married or have since started dating someone in the past few months, tell me that I scare the hell out of them, and I heard a phrase that I have heard multiple times in the years post divorce… “There is nothing that any man can do for you that you cannot do for yourself.”   “You drive a [make of car I have].”  SERIOUSLY?  I was further told that being a CEO of a nonprofit, being confident, being assertive, being successful in my career and the things I do as part of my career, along with my mode of living is seriously frightening.  The fact I am happy and do not ‘need’ someone?  Terrifying.

I was seriously not happy although for the sake of keeping levity and the evening’s fun going I did not call them out as I would have liked… but in the past couple of days I am just amazed.  Our society has such sick, enculturated messages regarding sex stereotypical roles, being partnered, etc. that anyone who chooses to not adopt the societally approved path gets judged, and deemed wanting.

I refuse to operate by other’s stereotypes and biases.  I am who I am, and I want what I want… or don’t want.  Don’t like my choices in my life?  That is fine, you are not living my life.

So just do me a favor.  Stop trying to fix me up to make you more comfortable with me.  Stop trying to change what is not broken.  We will all be a lot happier if you do.  And my friends are right, there is NOTHING someone else can do for me that I cannot do or get myself if I so choose it.  And if that is intimidating, or makes me unapproachable… that works too, and saves the both of us a whole lot of unnecessary expansion of energy.

Just.  Stop.

 

2014 ArtSHIP 10K- A race of many, many lessons…

Yesterday I ran a 10K, which is the longest race I have ran for a while!  This is my 4th race after a massive tumor and its removal threatened my existence and my ability to run.  As I have mentioned in previous entries, I am trying to figure out logistics, because I truly went to sleep with one body, and awoke with another.  This is NOT a complaint.  I had three wishes prior to surgery, and I got all three.  No cancer, the tumor did not rupture and kill me, and I did not wake up with a colostomy.  

With all that being said, running now is not easy as it was before.  After about mile 3 I start experiencing searing nerve pain in my pelvis, and due to a list of issues I will spare you, I must run pretty much dehydrated and empty.  That is fine for short runs such as a 5K or a 5 mile, and although this was just a 10K, I had several lessons to learn, and some to relearn.  Why only learn after the first time when you can keep doing the same thing several times, just to be sure?  My plans are somewhat simple, I am training to run a half marathon this fall, and I have been running multiple races, training, strength training, running intervals and reverse splits, using the stair climber like I plan to climb Mt. Everest, and the like.  And running is not new to me.  Last fall I was ready for a half when the medical issue sidelined me for months.  

So did I use the knowledge and wisdom I have from previous experience?  

Did I refrain from the tunnel vision that sometimes kicks my butt?

 Um… NO.  

But, I had a good laugh… and want to share those ‘revelations’.

 They include just general observations and lessons of the ‘if you are going to be dumb, you better be tough’ variety:

  • Eating late and poorly the night before will not go well for me in the morning.  For short races especially, there is no need to ‘carb load’ but due to having dinner at a small Italian restaurant with a large party and was the last to get my meal.  That resulted in a very hungry Terri and a whole lot of pasta consumed.  That was not pretty the next day.
  • I had forgotten the threshold for wearing cotton crap shirts to run in.  It is BELOW 6.2 miles by the way.  Also, a laundry fail forced me to wear a sports bra I wear to do cardio and lift in at the gym.  I do have to say the chafing and rubbing under my arms is a sight to behold, and was UGLY in the shower.  The whole ‘never wear a new ANYTHING to a race’ rule?  ::FAIL BUZZER::
  • Due to the interruption last fall of surgery, etc. I somewhat lost count of the mileage on my shoes.  My feet and the two toenails that will soon be saying adieu let me know that the time to retire them was after the last race.  Not this one.  
  • Because it was a shorter race and I was short on time, I passed on using anti-chafe/body glide.  Chafing in certain places is the gift that keeps on giving.  TRUST ME ON THIS.
  • I grabbed some grapes in the morning as is my normal morning routine, and I took a Luna Bar with me to eat right prior to the race (that is what has been working for me thus far).  Guess who parked the car, saw someone she knew, and got distracted?  You would be right.  I forgot.  It was still in my console when I returned later…  So my energy level bottomed out about mile 3, and I struggled for mile 4 and 5, and picked back up in the final stretch.  My time was absolutely HORRIBLE.  But I finished- that is what counts.
  • I knew that this would go to the Rail to Trail, but did not think about the fact that I am, pretty much, a pavement runner to this point.  This course was very, very little pavement, some grass/uneven ground, and a whole lot of shale and gravel running.  I loved the course, and found it very challenging, along with my own stupidity/absent-mindedness that also made it very challenging.
  • Also passing on my headband when wearing sunscreen is not a smart choice.  About mile 2 I had a nice mix of sweat and sunscreen in my eyes.  I was not ‘ugly crying’… but I am sure it looked as if I were!

I finished.  The pelvic/nerve pain was not as bad as it was in the 5 mile race, but most likely since I was running a bit slower and with more effort than the 5 mile race the month before.  After crossing the finish line, I hung around to encourage and congratulate those finishing behind me, and for the awards ceremony.  I have to say that I am a bit disturbed by what I consider to be lack of consideration by some participants. Not just at this race, but the last several I have participated in…  Quite a few folks finished, got their time, and left that did not place in overall, masters or age group.  Many that were remaining did not do anything to encourage those finishing later, and I noticed during the run that many runners did not bother to thank volunteers at safety/crossing stations, the water volunteer, and the like.  I also was concerned to see that during the presentation of the awards to placing runners, that many folks did not stop talking or pay attention, or worse, did not even applaud during the ceremony.  To me, gratitude and celebrating someone else’s success is part of good sportsman-or-womanship, and is merely courteous if nothing else.   I realize this is competitive, but I still think that there is a higher level that we should ascribe to.  

I was disturbed the most by what I have to date merely observed on Facebook run groups and other venues as ‘run snobbery’ and I was nearby when a female racer over the age of 75 was awarded.  She came in about 20+ minutes behind me, and as she was getting her medal a young man who was in the peer group of one of the ones placing overall stated that he thought her placing was bogus since she did not really ‘run’ it.  

I beg your pardon?  Anyone who was there and participated ‘ran’ it.  A finish is a finish, and for me, I merely run for me, and the only person I compete with is myself.  I did not exceed my personal record, and actually ran one of my slowest times.  But I ran.  I created hardships for myself by not being as disciplined as I normally am, and lessons learned.  This is all a process as I pursue completing a half in a few months, and then a full marathon next spring.  I did say something to him, and he apologized for saying it.  Perhaps, perhaps… I hope that there was a lesson learned there other than do not say things of that nature in front of cranky, middle aged women.  

Onward and upward.  I have a couple 5Ks coming up, and am searching to a 10 mile.  Next spring I will be doing a Dirty Girl, and later this summer a Mudder.   I continue to prepare for the 13.1 that will be happening in 3 1/2 months.  My intent is to run an 11 minute mile, with the goal of a 10 minute mile.  Wish me luck!

Not a fast race for me, but I finished!

Not a fast race for me, but I finished!

Being angry is okay, being cruel is not. Standing strong against MS in the face of criticism.

First a bit of background… A dear friend is battling MS. I have known Patti for over seven years, and this disease has taken much, from her, from her family, and the speed in which it has progressed from diagnosis to now have astounding, and not in a good way. Treatments were not having the desired effect. After much research and into options here and abroad, and much soul searching, Patti made a decision to go to Russia to have stem cell therapy. She was over there for weeks, and had her stem cells harvested, processed, and infused back. (Here is the link on the process from Patti’s blog http://standingstrongagainstms.wordpress.com/hsct/) Exceptionally close to her family, she spent her birthday and Mother’s Day in Russia. She had chemo that took her to the brink, and she was in isolation. For more on this, see her blog, Standing Strong, here. http://standingstrongagainstms.wordpress.com/

She began her blog as she prepared to go, and this was a stretch. Patti is a very private person, and plays it close to the vest, so to speak. She does not complain and keeps many key things to herself, often foregoing support and comfort not to martyr herself, but simply because she does not want to inconvenience anyone. She is always the person to rush to care take for others, and MS has impacted that greatly.

Her blogs shared the irreverent, the humor, the anxiety, and the coping of dealing with serious illness and potentially life changing procedures half the globe away with language, culture, and food being significantly different. Upon her return she posted a blog that she prefaced with a statement I did not understand … a statement that indicated she expected to be pilloried because she was going to express the less than positive side of what she experienced. She also expressed the gratitude for the doctor, and stated she would make the same choice if she had it to do over again. She spoke of the struggles to communicate, and very succinctly outlined someone who is isolated in a group of people, and for whom small things become large things, as many do when they are feeling vulnerable.

The backlash was immediate, and ugly. She was attacked, called names, and many things were intimated or outright stated in pages and pages of comments. I was simply gob-smacked at the vitriol and animosity directed at Patti for daring to complain about anything. The responses she received were attempts to silence her, to invalidate her observations and expressions of said, and used the tactics common to relational aggression and online bullying. Some of these comments intimated or came out and said the following:

  • She was a whiner or ‘whinging’
  • She had a perverse sense of entitlement
  • She was being an ‘ugly American’ or engaging in exceptionalism
  • She is high maintenance
  • She was ungrateful to the doctor and to the nurses
  • That she did not make a good faith effort to communicate

There were many more, but you get the idea. Some posting have already been through the treatment, and some are waiting. I was shocked at the level of negativity, and the multiple comments from individual posters. The behavior was mean, bullying, and very like sharks circling in the water after it has been chummed.

Now, when you choose to blog, and especially about issues so intimate and serious, there is always going to be the chance of those folks taking issue with what you have to say. That is the risk you run, and that is their right to express their dissent. However, freedom of speech does not give you freedom from consequences of your statements, and those may have very real impact. That being said, it also amazes me that the ability to disagree and conduct a conversation based on courteous discourse has apparently disappeared, and polarization, attacking the person rather than discussing the thought, and trolling continues to be the fallback mode for many.

What I saw in Patti’s blog was a strong, self-sufficient, professional woman who has not had a lot of international travel experience at this point – or exposure to cultures with radically different perspectives than she has experienced in the US – on confidentiality, privacy, healthcare, clinical cleanliness, necessity verses preference, patient centered/focused care, accommodation of those with mobile challenges, who really experienced those differences in a space where she was most vulnerable. Reading about them is one thing, experiencing them, especially when one’s resilience is already stretched to an Olympic level of thinness is quite another. She expressed her perceptions of those things, from her perspective and filtered through her experiences to that point. She was totally dependent and at times, helpless, in a process that was foreign to her.   She was also concerned about advocating for herself or others too strenuously since her sister was there as well, and that had to be incredibly dissonant for her.

Having been seriously ill and hospitalized recently, I am very aware of the immense power disparity that sometimes patients feel. I had the experience in my own culture, and have a significant history or working as an allied partner in the healthcare field, and one day I laid without meds, without my catheter being changed, and with no help coming. And I just counted down the hours until the next shift, and dealt with it later. But I digress. With any program, any workplace, there are people who excel at what they do, and those who simply do not, and those who fall on any place of that spectrum. Nurses are human too, and have bad days, bad weeks, things outside the job that impact their performance, patients they do not like/do not connect with, have their own bias and prejudices, and sometimes, are a bad fit to a specific position. Like patients and commenters on blogs, no individual is single natured.

As I pen this blog, Patti has only been home just a few days. She is still weak, and will not be able to resume many critical things, like physical therapy, until a month or so passes. Stress is one thing that will impact her positively or negatively, and my feelings are as follows.

What Patti wrote may be hard to read for some, but they are her experiences and her thoughts. She and she alone has those unique experiences and the context for those experiences. She has a right to them, and a right to express them. Those reading have the right to agree, to disagree, to stop reading her blog, to un-follow the RSS feed, whatever moves him or her. Was this different than your experience? By all means share that. Are there lessons to be learned for Patti, for Dr. F and his team, for those who have, or will, experience HSCT? Absolutely. But attacking, vilifying, and otherwise bullying someone because they see things differently than you or do not seem to be appropriately grateful in your opinion? It is just that. YOUR OPINION. And that can be expressed in a far more civil and mature manner.

I wish Patti and her sister Diane the speediest and most full of recoveries, and I have the same wish for all who have had, are experiencing, will have, or need treatment for MS. I also wish that folks demonstrate the compassion that they would like to experience if they were ill and putting themselves ‘out there’. Something a friend who has battled not one, but two, life threatening illnesses stated to me came back to me as I wrote this. He spoke of the ugliness and behavior of this sort in the HIV/AIDS world, and his statement in support of our very ill friend who was attacked on a panel for speaking honestly about his HIV treatment experience to other HIV infected patients was, “There is no ennoblement of having serious disease. If you were an a**hole before you were sick, you most likely are an even bigger one now.” I only mention this as one of my mantras in dealing with those who seem to derive a secondary gain out of harming others is, “hurt people, hurt people…” Another quote, that like the title of this blog, are not mine.   I will end with a paraphrase of the title quote… “It is okay to be angry, it is never okay to be cruel.”

 

 

 

 

 

This. THIS. Why I do the work I do…

Today was a great day. Not because I got my personal or work to-do list done <sigh> or I hit a new PR when running <bigger sigh>, Today was a great day because I attended the Eagle Scout Court of Honor for a wonderful young man who as part of his project made the lives of those accessing Survivors, Inc. better. And he left a legacy whether he knew it or not. At this ceremony, I had the chance to speak of Claudia House, of the services we offer, the challenges we face, of the resilience of those who choose to access us, and how wonderful my staff are. After the ceremony was completed, there was a social. I spent the next hour and a half speaking with women, some in their sixties and seventies, about how domestic violence and sexual assault impacted them directly, and how there was not services like ours back then. I spoke with a woman who worked for a local magisterial district justice who flatly refused to hear a woman’s complaint back in the early 70’s, and her abuser had held a gun to the woman’s head in front of her children. Many of these ladies spoke with tears shining in their eyes, but all spoke of the hope that someday, some way, we would end this. I also had a young gentleman who is getting ready to embark upon his quest for Eagle Scout, who wants to work with us. He also shared the impact that interpersonal violence had on him, and on his family. This. THIS. This is why I do this work. Not for the thanks I might get, or the praise (and all the heavy lifting is done by my staff, THEY are the ones who deserve the praise) but to see how important our work is, and that we are having an impact. How those who did not have the services we have now are so appreciative of what is here now, and although our battles are tough, and sometimes we collectively feel like Sisyphus, the stakes are too high to stop. 

Last week I attended a training, that, in my best effort/trying to be gentle, could be best called unorganized. During that training, a presenter stated something that nearly made me scream out and jump out of my chair. My staff and colleagues that were there knew I was nearly jumping out of my skin, but really did not know why. This person who was presenting on a culturally specific shelter she founded and operates, stated: “I know that domestic violence will never end. We have already given birth to the next couple of generations of abusers. I know it will never, ever end.” SERIOUSLY? HOLD UP THERE A MINUTE!!! I could not disagree more strenuously. Will it be tough? Yes. Will it happen in my lifetime? Not likely, although I hope it does and will work tirelessly to the last breath in my body. We have, in the best of intention, been doing it wrong. We have focused on the victim, rather than the offender and as the community. I wholeheartedly see the role that prevention education and teaching folks to identify oppression, victim blaming and misogyny, grooming, and other tools used by those who feel it is their right to control and harm others… rather than heaping that responsibility on the victim. Do we still need our services? Yes. But to paraphrase a quote by Tara Cohen… Interpersonal violence must be an act as abhorrent as cannibalism. The link to the blog is here-http://sanctuarycounseling.com/rape-culture-changing-the-dialog/  

We can do this. And we all, each of us, must commit to this. Will you join me, my staff, and the countless others who stand up to fight this? I for one will not be silent, complacent, and to quote Tom Petty’s song, even if ‘backed up to the gates of Hell I will not back down.” The stakes are too high.

Now back to my usual blogginh of sarcastic humor, cats, running, and other irreverence. But in that levity… this is what keeps me coming back for more in nearly 25 years of work in the third sector. We will end this. Sooner rather than later. I believe it.

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