I am going to go a little outside my usual post “flavor” to address some things that have really been bothering me the past few months. I’ll preface all the entries with this disclaimer & that way it will be easy to differentiate for those who would rather not read negative things. Seriously, this post/entry has nothing to do with unschooling: it is part of a hashing-out on my part, a venting of my feelings on recent happenings, a “getting it out in full view” to avoid secret whisperings and wonderings about recent events. I've gone back-and-forth over whether to actually post these words or not, and usually when I do that, I get a definite feel for it (after sleeping on it) if it is certainly a bad idea. I haven't gotten that feel in over a month of pondering, so if it turns out to be a bad idea I figure I've a lesson to learn from it.
There are a few things I’d like to address in this post.
I think part of the reason why meanness bothers me (it always has, but even moreso, now – with a bit of shock/surprise that it still happens) is because of the people who have intersected in our lives the past 10-11 years. As I began researching homeschooling seriously and then even *more* as I delved into the principles of unschooling, I found kindness and generosity of spirit and love and gentleness. At first, it seemed “fake”. Surely, people weren’t *really* this cheery, this nice, this all-accepting… ?, I thought. As time passed and I got to know them more deeply, I realized that they were, indeed, “real”.
It seemed like a homecoming, like things I’d hardened my heart to long ago, *were* actually *right*! Some things were hard to accept or reassimilate, but I found new life in myself for these ideals. Accepting people for who they are, where they are. Understanding/accepting that people do the best they can with what they have. Relearning how to trust and love people freely – without grudgingness or a need to “earn” it – was tough, at first. But, it got easier. And with it came peace – a deep, soul-soothing peace. And quiet happiness. And a love of self I don’t think I ever had.
It has always bothered me far more to see others hurt than to be hurt, myself – I think that’s true for so many people. Maybe even most people. Injustice bothers me, deliberate meanness bothers me and enjoyment at another’s expense bothers me. I am a firm believer in people gravitating toward decency: if you are kind to people when others are around, they’ll pick up on that, and echo it, reflect it, absorb it into their own being. That is why I am so bewildered and shocked when, every once in a while, some piece of hidden meanness surfaces & is flung into the midst of the kindness.
Twice, within friends & acquaintances, I’ve had nastiness forced upon me. Maybe I should edit that to say “two people”. At any rate, one was more in the realm of acquaintance. The other was someone I’d thought was a dear & caring friend. One who, last time I’d been in contact, had said, “If you need help, just let me know! Whatever you need, whenever – I’ll be there for you!” and then the next, within a bunch of nastiness, “I can’t continue to be your friend”. Now, what, exactly happened in those 2 months I didn’t hear from her, I don’t know. My only communications were to ask if she was going to be at local homeschool events, as our kids were friends and an offer (from her) of a skirt for my mother’s celebration of life memorial. There was a mention of a public venting I’d put up on Facebook, but it was about how I was feeling, not about anyone else. The biggest part was that it was an unexpected attack and rather surprising, because it came from someone I’d considered an ally, even if it was not a “best friend” kind of situation.
Most people reading this will know, but for those who don’t: I am not a judgmental person. I have friends & acquaintances with quite varied beliefs & ideas – I believe uniqueness makes the world interesting & contributes to growth and learning; as long as you (general “you”) are not trying to force anyone to adopt your beliefs and/or ideals, we’ll get along just fine, most likely. Different religious beliefs? Different political stance/ideas? Different ideas on how to parent? No problem – as long as you’re not forcing them on others. Because our ideas on parenting aren’t the same do not mean one of us is “right” and the other is “wrong”, it only means they’re different, as are our families, as are our children. It is quite possible that my parenting ideals would not mesh with your children, anyhow; quite likely yours wouldn’t mesh with my own kids – in fact, I’ve tried out one or two I *know* do not suit my children at *all*!
At least as far back as jr. high school, I have said I wasn’t really a “girl”. The things I enjoy tend to be things that are correlated with “guys”, added with my body structure (for those who don’t know, I’ve shrunk to 5’ 10” and I have a body-frame structure like an American football linebacker), tends to make me feel out of place in especially “girly” situations/places/events. (Or did when I was younger.) I think a lot of that has to do with the different ways guys & gals interact – especially in school. I don’t think I was ever indoctrinated (or at least not “properly”, if I was) in “girl behavior”. I don’t understand the twisting and misrepresentation of words. I don’t “get” the two-faced thing. I don’t understand the point of, or how to “gossip”. I *really* don’t understand the “code”/game kind of thing: if you are upset with someone, why can’t you just say so? Why the need for posturing or symbolic representation rather than words? I don’t get it. There are a *lot* of gals who don’t get it – we share our bafflement with each other: not only do we not understand it, we don’t understand the point of it, nor the attraction. Just because someone doesn’t share gossip with you or react to *your* gossip in an appropriate way is not necessarily within that “girl code” of symbolism: sometimes, it’s just that it is a foreign language to some of us and we neither understand nor speak it. Seriously – I’d have a better chance of understanding you if you were a mime or spoke to me in Latin (and I’ve never studied Latin).
Another thing, along those lines is the sharing of intimate details. Just because my status updates don’t include the details & recipes of every meal I ate today, the tiny details of how I spent my day by the hour, what my kids studied (or didn’t study), how my family interacted with each other, several cute pictures of my pets & kids, the fight I had with my relative and/or the funny noise the van made today (not that anything is wrong with sharing those things, mind you!) does not mean I’m “lying” or “hiding something”. From as far back as at least jr. high, I have been rather close-to-the-vest about the details of my life (perhaps I was burned by gossip – I don’t remember). I would no more share intimate details of my life than I would ever have flashed my breasts at a rock concert (not that flashing some boob is *bad* - it just isn’t who I am) or dig a booger out of my nose and share it ‘round for all to see the shape of (again, not that I’d condemn anyone who does that… ). There are a tiny handful of people who mysteriously have the key to my reticence and I just spew loads at them – not sure why or how, but I know the number can be counted on one hand. Nor would I expect anyone who likes to share those details to clam up and act more reticent, because that isn’t who *they* are. I love to listen to people talk about themselves & their day & how they process things – I’m just more of a listener than a talker… at least when it comes to stuff I consider personal to me. I can talk like crazy about general stuff and unschooling and games and… ! :~)
Why can’t folks just be more accepting of others? Of differences? I can remember being very young and having a “better than you” attitude and judging people and it didn’t feel very nice. I know that people often gravitate to things that feel good (like acceptance and love and joy), but there’s also a lot of fear around over change and “standing out” from the crowd… It just seems the world would be a better place *and* the people in it would be happier, if there was just more acceptance of others & their ideas & ways… “Different” isn’t “wrong”, it just isn’t the same.
Ahh… One last thing before I quit for the day: a bit I’d written in my notes, but I’m rather tired to search through today’s post and make a place for it. It can stand on its own within this post, I think, so:
*just because I’m not gossiping about something or blaming someone behind their back doesn’t mean I’m clueless or damaged by it or too stupid to comprehend: it usually means I simply don’t care. Honestly, I rarely care what others think or say about me: I’ve said it to most of you. As long as someone I care about isn’t being hurt, I really don’t care what you say about *me*. I don’t care if you don’t like me. If you don’t have the fortitude to talk something out with me or ask me my side of something, I don’t care what kind of twisted/untrue opinion you have of me or what you say about me behind my back. That kind of behavior certainly doesn’t reflect badly on *me*. I and the people I love & who love me know who I am and that’s all that matters to me.
I’m wrapping up for the day. I’m still not ready to jump fully back into FB – probably most of what I’ll be doing is business-related. I’ll be on, sporadically, if folks want to message me there again, though.