Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Seen and Not Heard

With the recent presidential election, I have seen the best and worst of people on social media and in "real life." I've read posts made by friends that make me wonder if I really know them as well as I'd like to believe. I've seen the city that I work in make national news because a white woman spit on a black man at the polls and called him racial slurs. It's not a pretty time in this country, that I know for sure. On the other hand, I have seen people trying to lift others up and encourage them during this shitstorm. I've seen friends respectfully disagree and it has made me think that perhaps all is not lost.

But that's not the main point of this blog. Something else is on my mind tonight and while this post might be all over the map, I need to get it out. For me, social media has been an extremely important part of my life (put down your pitchforks, advocates of "put your phone down and go outside). In person I am at times awkward. I don't always know what to say and I'm almost always suspicious that when I meet new people, they don't like me. I've done my best not to appear that way on the outside but if you could peer inside my head while I'm at social events you'd want to feed me a Xanax. Social media is a way for me to be to be involved while still feeling safe from the judgment I'm convinced I face when someone meets me in person. Is it all in my head? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is. Does that make it any less difficult for me? Nope.

I have used Facebook as my outlet in many ways. I've raged about animal abuse. I've shared my (somewhat unpopular) opinions about this election. I've called people out when they try to hide behind a computer and be hateful to others. I'm not ashamed of any of these things. I've actually only been ashamed of my posts one time in my life, and that is when I shared personal information about what was happening between my husband and I. I should not have done that and can confidently say I will never do it again. I was acting out of a place of anger and hurt and neglecting to think about repercussions. I was letting myself feel all the emotions rather than stuffing them down. I'm proud of that part but not so proud of the rest. I have wanted to publicly apologize to my husband and I'm using this forum to do so. I am so, so sorry, Tom. I've made it clear to you what you mean to me and it's up to you to decide how far your forgiveness will go.

The title of this blog is "Seen and Not Heard" and that's essentially how I feel today. Today, after calling someone out for a racist, bigoted comment he made I was privately messaged and called a stupid bitch, a skank and ugly. I was told it was clear why I don't have a man. He said I loved black men (but he used to N word). He also said that "Blacks are ruining this country and stupid assholes like you talk so much shit." This stellar human being then proceeded to block me before I could respond.

I'm cool with debating. I don't even mind trading insults. But to send such a message then block me? That's cowardly. And I wasn't having it. I shared the message on my wall and told my 600+ friends that if they felt so inclined, to message Captain Fuckface and let him know what they thought of him. This isn't something I've done before. It's not me to ask others to fight my battles. However, when you block me as a way to "silence" me from firing back...that doesn't sit well.

Those who didn't want to partake kept scrolling. A good portion of my friends and family did message him. Then, out of nowhere, one friend told me I was being "immature" and that I needed to "be a woman" and turn the other cheek. I'll be honest, I kept calm with her because I have believed since I met her that she needs friends, but inside I was seeing red. Turn the other cheek? Be a woman? Allow me to understand this: a male internet troll is allowed to use words like "faggot" and "nigger" and we should all just shrug our shoulders and say it's cool because we should be the bigger people? No. Hell to the fuck NO.

I will always hold people accountable for their fucked up behavior. It is not, and never will be, OK in my eyes to spew hate speech and misogyny because some cowardly fuck (who likely has a dick so small it's practically inverted) is able to hide in the safety of mama's basement and say horrible things to others without consequence. That's not what I'm about. I don't give a rat's ass if it's "just Facebook." Too many assholes are using "just Facebook" as their platform to tear down other genders, minorities, sexual orientations etc. and I frankly don't give a fuck who thinks it takes more energy to try and shut them down than it does to ignore...it's NOT OK and I will always make that known.

I feel like a lot of people want me to be quiet. I think I make people uncomfortable with how open I am, how much I'm apt to swear and my willingness to call people out when they do something shitty. Someone attacked my sister this morning and I refused to let it slide...and a family member threatened to unfollow me for "starting shit on Facebook." While I'm used to this, it still makes me scratch my head. And once again, it's over something a man said. Apparently we're supposed to shake our heads and overlook "boys being boys" because that makes us the "bigger people." If that's the case, I don't want to be the bigger person. I want to be the person who refused to keep her mouth shut. I want to be the one who inspires someone else to stand up for what's right, whether it's on social media or in person. I'm tired of being told to ignore it, to turn the other cheek, to rise above. Fuck that shit.

This is me. I am a fighter. I stand up for what I believe is right. I stand up for those with mental health issues. I stand up for anyone who has ever been bullied for how they look, who they love, which gender they identify with, etc. I will never, ever be everyone's cup of tea. People in my family don't even like me half the time. It used to hurt but to stifle who I am at my core to please those people will damage me way worse than their disapproval.

No one, absolutely NO ONE, is going to silence me.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dear Joe

First of all, happy birthday. You would be nine today. This morning I would've opened my eyes and snuggled you (and possibly sang to you) and told you how we'd celebrate when I got home from work later. I would've brought you some cake and ice cream and a toy that I'm sure Maggie would have immediately claimed as her own. You wouldn't have cared, you always shared your toys. I would've made you both pose in silly party hats and posted the pics on Facebook for everyone to look at. You see, a lot of people loved you besides just me. A lot of people had their day brightened by a cute Joe Boxer pic. I think it's safe to say you had a fan base.

Today is going to be a little different. 11/7 will always be different, for the rest of my life. Today I woke up and thought of you as Jake and I did our morning ritual of me hitting snooze and him snuggling up on my shoulder to catch a few more ZZZ's. I finally got up and had to coax him out of bed, just like I sometimes had to do with you. We went downstairs and Jake went outside to go potty then came trotting back in and waited at the treat jar, just like every other morning. He ate his treat and we headed back upstairs. I scratched his butt as he walked and he stopped at the landing so I could rub his back, too. We do this every morning now. It's comforting to me. I like it- it's good for me. And it's good for Jake.

I was looking through old pics this morning. I wanted to remember all your other birthdays. I always tried to make them special with cake or treats and presents and party hats and singing. You were the light in my life and I wanted to celebrate you every single day. Although my memories aren't all as vivid as they used to be, I still remember so much. The time you bit Kevin's head because he wouldn't stop shaking me by the shoulders (he was joking, and I did warn him, but he thought it was funny- till he was sporting tooth marks in his forehead). When you heard my friends out in our yard late one night trying to wrap my car in Saran Wrap- I didn't hear a thing but you sure did- you alerted me right away. You always kept me safe. I remember days of working as a waitress and coming home to find something new you had destroyed (digital camera, medicine ball, remote)- that's when I had to start crating you. But you were OK with it and always happy to see me when I got home.

We went on road trips together. You were my best buddy, my sidekick. I lost track of how many nights you watched me cry from whatever man had broken my heart at that particular time and you leaned on me and licked my tears till I couldn't do anything but laugh and hug you and feel lucky to have you as my dog. I could look at you, just a look, maybe a head tilt, and you could read what I was thinking. People may not believe that but you and I know it was true. You understood me and I understood you.

That's why I knew I had to let you go that day. I knew in my heart you were ready and you were done- that you had fought as hard as you could and I fought with you but we weren't going to win this one. Life has not been all that great for me since you left. I always said that it would drive me to the brink of insanity to lose you but I didn't realize how true that statement actually was. I miss you every single day and I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have Jake to hold onto at night. I often wonder what you'd think of him...he's kind of an asshole but that's a puppy thing and I do recall you were a bit of an asshole till about age 4. Of course I say that about Jake just as lovingly as I said it about you. It's a term of endearment, it truly is.

Tonight Barb from Camp (you remember Camp, you liked to go there and play) will probably come over and share some wine with me. It's not just any wine- it's a special bottle she brought me on New Year's Eve 2015- two days after I had to let you go. It was my favorite wine and they had stopped making it but somehow she brought me a bottle. I said I would save that bottle till your birthday and raise my glass to what an amazing dog you were, and it still sits in the cupboard today. I plan to sit and think about all the ways you were my perfect boy. Jake and Maggie will wear hats and they'll get some cake. I will be as upbeat as I can but make no guarantees I won't cry. Crying is good- it means you affected me that deeply. You changed my life, Joe Boxer. I wouldn't trade one moment for anything.

Someday I hope to see you again. Sometimes I think you're still all around me. I look for signs but I can't be sure. Happy birthday, my boy. Mama loves you to the moon and back and always will.