D Day, Black Friday, Dark Thirty…

 

73 years ago, this June, was the Battle of Normandy.  I wasn’t there, clearly.  But we have the proof in our history books.  (I’ll get back to that part.)  So we know the battle lasted for months and that it was one of the worst in our history.  The actual invasion was one of the largest assaults in history and required crazy, secret planning. Months, if not Years.  Prior to D-Day, those involved created a deception campaign, designed to mislead the “bad guys” about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the bad guys. It was the beginning of the end of war in Europe.

Sound familiar?

That piece of history has been on mind because I find myself on each side.  I mean, we were completely part of a deception campaign, right?  This election was like a reality show – where the camera never really focused on what was actually happening.  We heard that Hillary Clinton may be dying of some disease.  We were shaken with the idea of every single Wiki Leak but weren’t excited “enough” to wonder (truly) where they were coming from.  The polls kept us at ease because the absurdity of anything else couldn’t seem true.  But their plan worked.  They didn’t focus on us.  They focused on the electorate.  (I’ll get back to that.)  They were so mean about neighbors that we didn’t notice the fear they were creating and promises they were making with crowds of people who will be hurt most.  They won.

And now it’s here.  This day I have dreaded. And I’ll be honest, I am stunned.  I’m still unsure how we got here.

I live in a red state so losing comes naturally for me.  But this guy?  C’mon.  There was a fleeting moment, even in Utah, where I thought that “less wrong” would win.  I didn’t have too much faith in that but I really counted on the rest of you to pull us through – the way you typically do.

8 years ago, I gathered with some of my favorite people to watch the inauguration of the most loved President of my lifetime.  And today, the 45th President entered office with the lowest approval record ON record.  He lost the popular vote by more than 3 million.  He said some of the most hurtful, blatantly hateful things I’ve ever heard on live television.  He mocked differed abilities.  He said disgusting things about women.  He put terror in the hearts of brown children everywhere.  He was crude and ill mannered in every debate, interview & speech.

And yesterday, some awful friend suggested I watch something called Hate Rising – or something like that.  I’ve avoided exposing myself to that side of humans for a while but I watched it.  So you don’t have to, I’ll tell you it’s about hate groups that are growing in numbers – because they now have “permission” in a way that they haven’t in decades. And they all give credit to the 45th President.  Go him.

So many lessons learned.  & more to come.  We can look back on our history and never allow that kind hatred to come around again.  We’ve seen entire groups of people tormented and even killed because of who they are.  Never again.  Our election process has been spoiled.  I would say he cheated but there’s so much more to it than that.

On the flip side, here we are.  They way that Normandy began the undoing of WWII, Women and minorities will undo this cabinet.  It seems we might have 3 years, 11 months, 30 days and about 12 hours to deal with this one but I believe in us!

Let’s fix it.  Not yesterday or today.  Maybe not for a few more days.  I am mourning.  (I’ve avoided reading fb.  Or watching/listening to ANY news program. My tv is on Friends reruns.  Don’t call me.  If you do, I’ll be crying.  I can’t seem to stop.  It’s personal.) But I’ll be ready really soon.

Come with me!

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Forgiveness

This is a long time coming.  I expect it will take weeks to write but it’s still worth writing.  It’s worth many things.

Many of you know my history from my last blog.  For those of you that don’t, I wouldn’t even know where to start.  But to jump ahead, I wanted to tell you all that things are wonderful with me & Gracie.  …and even her mom.  It’s good.  Without jinxing it, it’s really good.  There are still rules and guidlines and boundaries but as we build trust, those things feel farther and farther away.  And for me, just seeing her is a miracle.

I’m not sure if time was the biggest tool in healing or if it was really just an honest conversation that needed to happen for 9 years or so.  I think it’s different for both of us.  I remember her calling one afternoon after we exchanged (not very nice) emails.  I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror watching my lips move but not knowing what I was saying.  I felt like I had nothing to lose.  I was crying.  She was crying.  And even when we weren’t speaking, a whole lot was being said.

We’ve had a million conversations since that day and they’re always hard.  But every time we hang up I wished we could’ve spoken that honestly all those years ago.  I wish we could’ve been vulnerable and sassy and scared and just plain honest.  What would’ve been different?  And if we could stop any of you from the mistakes we made, what advice would we give you?  We’ve spent a lot of hours talking about this very thing.  What if I had just trusted her enough to say the hard things?  What if I hadn’t given her reason to not trust me?  What if she had more time to sit without making such big decisions?  What if we didn’t have armies pulling at us – creating two seperate sides?

But it didn’t happen like that.  We were awful to each other.  The awful’est.  We were enemies and it turns out that neither of us were ever really comfortable in that camp.

We were talking with her friend a while ago and she said, after spending the morning with us, “I can’t believe you were ever fighting.”  My response was, “Oh believe!”  But then said, “Actually, we weren’t.  We paid other people hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight for us.”  And it’s true.  Any time we were together – just us, we were fine.  Adding in all the laws and lawyers and ego just fueled the forest fire that should’ve just been a temporary burn from a candle.

A few months ago I went to a conference for LGBT lawyers.  It was amazing and there were about a dozen other moms & dads there that went through custody battles like I did.  Out of all of them, I was the only case that lost in court.  But as we all spoke and hugged and cried, I wondered how many of them really won?  There was one mother who won in court but her relationship with her daughter is so broken that she doesn’t even speak to her.  A dad who spent 6 years fighting for his son but those years were too many and now they simply just don’t know each other.  And another who changed the law in her state so now everyone under her is protected but she has such a wounded relationship with her ex that her relationship with her children is robotic – layed out hour by hour by a GAL to make sure the mom’s aren’t hurting the children by talking badly about the other.  Ugh.

I get it.  More than anyone and as the same as everyone, I get the need to fight for your child.  I have never recommended that someone do it through court but I will stand with any one of you who choose to.  I understand the feeling of “even if I lose, she’ll know I tried.”  But what else can we do?  If Cheryl and I could sit in the front of a room (without tomatoes being thrown) and talk about what we would’ve done differently, what would we say?

Coulda Shoulda Woulda.  And a million other things.

I’ve been writing our story for years.  But you already knew that.  I’ve always struggled with the outline because there has never been an ending.  Sometimes there is and I think, “is it really okay with me that it end badly?”  And I guess it is.  But I really don’t want that.  I have always wanted a happy ending and I’m crossing every finger and toe for just that.

Stay tuned.

Enough is Enough

I remember, about a year and half ago, our community held a vigil to bring attention to all the many local suicides that occured in a short amount of time.  (3 within less than 3 months, I think)  I was aware of the problem far earlier than that but even now – all this time later – we’re still reminded just how often too much is too much.  I’ve written about this a lot and certainly express myself plenty on fb.  But really, when is enough enough?

When I was working, a lot of my focus was around support & education in the LGBT community. I learned quickly, when I would travel up north or down south, that the issues there were much different than in Salt Lake City.  Typically I spent my time talking about the laws we were trying to change and the rights we were trying to gain.  But when I’d meet with these kids from smaller towns, they needed to talk about how to not get kicked out of their homes or how not to get beat up after school.  They worried about name calling and not going to heaven and almost EVERY one of them had considered suicide as a way out of it all.

I took my mom to Logan with me once.  We were supposed to talk to a group of college students for an hour about the upcoming election.  Instead, we were there for almost 4 hours.  They wanted to know how my mom handled my coming out.  How did she keep loving me?  What could they say to their parents to let them know they were still the same person they loved?  When they were bullied at school or at church, how should they respond?  One boy, in particular, cried as my mom held his hand.

That one night changed me.  It changed the way I did my job and the way I think about what “rights” are really most important.  I never really grasped the desperation before.  When I came out – even though it was a million years ago – I didn’t worry about losing family or friends.  I didn’t worry about getting beat up and I certainly never worried about going to hell.  But when we did a “raise of hands” that night (honor code eyes closed, of course) and asked how many of them had considered or attempted suicide and only TWO didn’t raise their hand, I knew my situation was unique.

The idea that this pain only falls on the LGBT community is not true.  I think it’s a huge problem, certainly, but it’s just one of the dagger words bullies throw around.  Stupid, fat, ugly.  Those are words I not only remember hearing but also remember using.  I was a bully.  I say that, knowing I do my best now to never use those words.  But it’s true.  I also used the words gay & fag in ways that were meant to hurt others.

Did I hurt others?  I’m sure I did.  Was I hurting myself?  Of course.  But I wouldn’t have raised my hand in my class that day.  So what made it different for me?

We’ve all seen the Jonah video that’s been floating around fb.  And if you follow me, you’ve seen many other stories as well.  So what can we do?  We can talk gently.  We can appreciate the beauty of every person.  We can speak from love as often as possible and we can speak up when we hear differently.  We can teach our children what respect & love look like.  We can be grown ups – the kind that children count on.

I have enemies.  I know, you’re shocked.  (insert sarcasm)  It’s true though.  & some of them used to be my friends.  Sometimes my head is full of mean thoughts about them.  If Glory could read my mind, I’d be ashamed of what I say there.  And because I think it, my body feels it.  And when my body is feeling that kind of anger, it flows out as I’m driving and as I’m trying to park and that dumb girl steals my place!  See?  Just like that.

Let’s fix it.  Let’s be less angry and less mean.  Every day let’s show love to someone we don’t want to love.  Every day let’s be the grown up that protects another human being.  Because one day it could be you protecting my daughters.  And as a grown up, I would expect nothing less from you.

My sister says, “Say what you mean but don’t be mean when you say it.”  I think that’s a good place to start.