Saturday, January 23, 2021

Stronger Together

Well, I got through 2020, and the last couple of weeks in the year, I was really trying to mentally prepare myself for 2021. I knew that it wasn't going to flip like a switch and suddenly be wonderful. If anything, it would be much of the same as 2020, if not worse, and for the bulk of the year. I can't control that, but what I can control is my attitude and my outlook. I was planning, journaling, focusing on three words: growth, positivity, and patience. So even if I go through much of the same in 2021, hopefully I can do so with better mental health.

But alas, less than one week into the new year, I get a call from my brother that my dad is sick and doesn't look good. My sister (nurse practitioner) stayed with him for a couple of nights and she was very concerned that my dad was downplaying his symptoms because his breathing was shallow and he was doing mundane things like pulling a blanket over him but getting winded. Long story short, he ended up being hospitalized for COVID. I won't go into the details like him getting administered his meds in the parking lot and waiting outside for 8 hours because there were no beds open for him, I will just say that five days later, he was thankfully able to go home and my mom (nurse) has been taking his vitals daily and he seems to be recovering steadily.

Three days into dad getting hospitalized, we get a text from Matt's dad saying that his grandmother has been hospitalized also for COVID. Her story ended much differently, and I'm heartbroken to write that she passed away a little over a week later, this past Monday evening going into early Tuesday morning. She was 94 and lived a full life. Matt and I got to see her the night before we lost her. Watching my husband all suited up in a gown, mask, gloves, hair net, holding his grandmother's hand while she's crying out in pain every time she coughs is not something I would wish onto anyone. Matt is crushed and I've been trying to do my best to be the strong one so he has someone he can lean on - usually it is quite the opposite.

On top of all of this, we have this thing called the election happening in the background. And it's all very heavy. This is nothing compared to 9-11, don't get me wrong, but I remember even back then, there were times I just needed to turn off the TV and watch something like Friends because it was all so gut wrenching. I felt a similar pit in my stomach from the Capitol incident to the days leading up to the Inauguration. Dread.

The beauty of working from home is you can step out of the office into your living room and watch the Inauguration. And I did so with a box of kleenex. I found myself very emotional. Crying. I posted on Instagram that it felt like a breath of fresh air. And it's not even because I felt particularly strong about Biden winning. Yes, Harris as VP is a historical moment in time to say the least, and I cannot imagine what that even feels like but my sigh of relief was to simply watch something that was drama free. You're not watching angry people rage (and that goes for either side, I'm not specifically speaking to one side alone), you're simply seeing a ceremony take place without incident, and with that, I had a sigh of relief.

But, there were tons of other people that felt the exact opposite of me. And my post about the Inauguration being a breath of fresh air and leaving me feeling hopeful upset someone very close to me, to the point where this person called me, letting me know how upset they were at my naivety. We talked, we didn't fight or debate. I listened with not much to say in return. I just listened. But when we hung up, I found myself crying uncontrollably. The fact that I could post something seemingly positive and it upset someone I care about deeply? That makes me unbearably sad and feeling helpless.

Why sad? Why helpless?

I didn't befriend this person because of their political beliefs. I'm not sure we even spoke about them at all until this past year. Politics has never been a factor for why I've maintained a relationship with this person for 15+ years, and I don't intend to change that. But I felt it has now become a factor for how this person sees me and that I will never live up to their standard. And that is why I'm sad. I have deep respect for this person, so yes, how they view me is important. 

We have different geographies, different life experiences, and our values are never going to match. We have different scales on what we expect our perfect President to be and even how a perfect country should look. I'm certainly not saying the perfect president is in the office now as I truly don't feel there will ever be that perfect person. My point is. My values are never going to align with this person, and I'm not trying to make them agree with me. I don't NEED them to agree with me. But I realized after our conversation, I do need this person to stop trying to change my grading scale to match theirs. Because I will never match up and they will always feel let down by me. I feel our friendship is jeopardized and that's not something I take lightly.

I've observed there being people that believe in order to be a good American, you have to be all up to speed on current events. That will never been me. I know enough to be dangerous thanks to my husband keeping me in the loop. And just because I don't know all the things about politics doesn't make my voice matter any less, nor does it make me any less proud to be an American. I have listened and tried to absorb different perspectives, trying to stay open-minded, specifically when this person is speaking to me about their political beliefs. I fear that because I still may not agree with their values that they are taking it as a reflection on themselves like they have failed. But we are simply just different and it is no one's job to "fix" me. 

There are two extremes right now - far left and far right. Both sides want you to be one or the other. Why can't it just be ok for me to be me, exactly as I am, somewhere in the middle? A sandwich is flavorless with nothing in the middle. A rainbow isn't as beautiful without the spectrum of color from top to bottom. And the sun is most enjoyable, in the middle, at the horizon line, during sunrise and sunset.

At this point, I'm not even sure what I'm trying to say. So many people are posting about how important it is to be kind. And while I don't disagree with that, I feel that being kind on the surface only puts a band-aid on the problem. And being kind doesn't necessarily mean being silent. It means accepting that we are all different. I'm not talking about being silent to some internet troll - I understand there are toxic people you can easily cut out of your life without remorse. But for those that you can't afford to lose, it means holding onto your beliefs and speaking your mind in a way that doesn't permanently damage relationships about which you care deeply. We are stronger together even if we all don't agree. And if that makes me naive, then I accept that, just please don't judge me for that. 

To be clear, I didn't write this to stir up negative comments about my friend, and if you leave something negative, it will be deleted. I'm simply sharing my perspective as I feel there are others in this same boat - being in conflict with people they love over things they truly can't control. Organizing my thoughts into this post helps give me clarity, helps me cope, and helps me move forward.

1 comment :

  1. This season has been hard. I’ve chosen the route of getting off social media for a while because people are just so hateful. While I’m a registered Republican, I am more centrist, as well, and even lean a little left on some issues. My parents are Democrats, as is one of my best friends. Thankfully, we love and respect each other enough to recognize that we can still have strong relationships though we don’t see eye to eye on everything. Hell, I don’t see eye to eye on everything with Republicans, either. While I’ve managed to not have cross words with a single person during all of this - because, again, we are all entitled to have differing beliefs - the negativity on the internet and tv just became unbearable to me. Hopefully, you and your friend can come to an understanding, as well.