Presently: Divided

One of those click-bait-y internet memes popped up on my Facebook feed a few days ago. I usually scroll past them, but I stopped and read this one and I don’t remember exactly what it said. I can’t even tell you which of my social media friends posted it, but to summarize, it was talking about how in the last four years we’ve probably all learned a lot about politics, but we’ve learned even more about our family and friends. 

Boy, oh, boy, did that sentiment hit me in the face like a pillowcase full of bricks. 

I’ve learned a lot about you people, especially recently.

I’ve learned that I was raised by three women who are innately empathetic and adaptable, women who can hold space for new ideas and healthy conversations. I’ve learned that I’m really proud when people tell me I’m exactly like them. 

I’ve also learned that there are a lot of people in my family who don’t agree with my view points, both political and societal. I’ve learned that the people who don’t agree with me are a lot harder to talk to because the topics of conversation are so divisive and ultimately, engaging with those who don’t agree, makes me feel small, and it makes me feel wrong, and I find myself questioning just about everything and hesitating to speak up when I feel like I should. Part of the reason I took a social media break was because I was so tired of being brushed off every time I tried to engage with a member of my family who supports our current president or responds to my BLM post with “All/Blue/White Lives Matter” or spreads misinformation about the current Pandemic without fact-checking it or bitches about having to wear a mask. 

If you read this last paragraph and it resonated, this blog post is for you.

I’m so tired of your shit, guys. Seriously. It’s exhausting. Just in the last three months, I’ve had to sit through conversations where you say things like, “I don’t fact check before I post”, and “I don’t have time for politics”, and “Trump loves this country, why else would he be President”, and “If Jacob Blake had just complied…”, and “What about the looting”, and “If I get COVID I won’t die” and, “The left are a bunch of socialists” (that one is my favorite because every single person who has said that to me is benefiting from either social security, medicaid, or free college… so, like, socialism.)

I’ve tried to have these conversations with you, I’ve tried to voice a different opinion in hopes of having a healthy debate, but you’ve made me feel so stupid for trying. You’re so quick to dismiss me with an emoji or a “let’s not go there” or a “calm down”. I’ve come to the conclusion that you really don’t care. You aren’t saying these things because you want to have a conversation, you’re saying them because they feel good to say. Think about that. Responding to social injustice with “What about my life?”, feels good. Posting conspiracy theories about the CDC and the pandemic when over 180,000 Americans have died as a direct result of this virus, feels good. Listening to a racist, divisive, narcissistic president, who, from day one, has raged a war against the press as a way to keep his supporters from listening to facts and forming their own opinions, feels good. 

It certainly feels better than listening to me, right? I get it. Talking to me or people like me, who don’t share your views doesn’t feel good because it makes you feel wrong. And no one likes being wrong. I hate being wrong. I’m just as stubborn as most of you, in fact, I probably got my stubbornness from you. (See? We do still have a thing or two in common.)

So, we find ourselves in a really weird place. We’re family. We’re supposed to love each other unconditionally, but we’re suddenly seeing conditions in each another that are difficult to love. How do we fix that? How do we come back from this? 

I have no idea. I don’t know how I’m supposed to have Thanksgiving with you and act like I haven’t lost sleep over some of the things I’ve heard you say and seen you post. And I don’t think you want to sit across a table from me either because you know it’s going to come up eventually and I suck at biting my tongue.

And I don’t know what I’m supposed to say when I call you now. The silence from both ends of the line is screaming for us to have a hard conversation that we hesitate to start because we don’t know how it will end.

And I don’t know how many more months we’re going to continue to ignore each other and pretend that’s not what we’re doing. I’ll like a post of your kid, you like my new headshot. We’ll continue playing nice on the surface because if we ever attempt to unpack all of this stuff, it’s going to be so messy and uncomfortable. 

Seems like it’s easier to just agree to disagree, right? Play nice. Butt out. Don’t engage.

That’s certainly the easier way out, but I don’t want to do that.

I’ve re-written the end of this post about a hundred times. I’m realizing I don’t have a solution, and that scares me. I want things to go back to the way they were, but that’s impossible if we can’t talk to one another and listen to one another.

It’s funny… I remember the day after the 2016 election, I talked to most of you about my fears with this president. You assured me it wouldn’t be that bad. You said one president can’t cause that much damage.

Look at what one president did to our family. 

From where I’m sitting… I see a lot of damage.