Posts Tagged ‘identity’

There’s this one picture I want to show you….

November 13, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog. About the blog I used to have before I started this one (and the one before that!). I know some of you followed me here from there, and I imagine there are a lot of differences. For one, I nO loNGer TypE liKe thIs. The backgrounds are not blinding pink, the writing not cursive. Those things are inevitable when you begin blogging when the internet is born, because if you’re my age you were a teenager when that happened.

But there were other things there, too. Real names, pictures with heads and faces. I miss those things.

I debate switching over again. Unlike some people, though, I’ve never been a blog hopper. I’ve been attracted to the idea to starting many blogs, and may have started the odd one or two that fell to the wayside while the number of entries was still in the single digits. The exception to this was a nice little babywearing blog…..which, of course, has now joined all the others on the scrap heap.

I remember feeling confused when I realised many people classed blogging as their job. Some were mothers who needed to still feel like they had a piece of themselves, something to contribute, as they (like me) were trapped in the mindless, wonderful world of childrearing. For a handful, they made a lot of money from blogging.

For me, well, it’s not for me. Not at a place where I want to just have a dumping ground, an old fashioned diary, a place to record some memories or work out some of my mental bullshit. I don’t want to have to write on a timetable, with sanitized topics, to hunt for sponsors. I don’t want the joy of being me to become an obligation. I’m not sure it would, but for now, this is my place. My Place.

And I’m not an anonymous sort of person.

I know a lot of bloggers are witty and fabulous and funny and smart – and I’m always confused when they say how painfully shy they are in real life. Don’t get me wrong. I know the pure pleasure of being truly yourself – which is something the internet does afford those of us who choose to use it in that way. In the 1990s I regularly used primative chatrooms called Talkers. These were places for the geeks, for the misfits, for the wonderful few who knew how to literally teleport into little black screens, adopt a name befitting your personality, and make genuine friends. Perhaps fall in love.

I did a little of both.

But I’m not that blogger. While I may feel insecure and cautious with the best of them, I am really comfortable talking. If I’m somewhere and a new person shows up who looks a bit left out, I always make a point to reach out to that person. It’s how I met Aussie, actually. I love telling stories, I love making people laugh, I become bigger and more grandiose and shinier when I am with other people. When I am with MY people.

And I’ve always been painfully honest online, in whatever form ‘online’ has been. My online persona matches my ‘real’ persona, or at least I think it’s a pretty damn close representation. I talk about poop in real life. I dance in my underwear with (my!) children. I overshare, etc etc.

As a counsellor, I’m also a pretty good listener. And that counselling bit? Well, that’s the reason this blog started. Simply because my other blog was so big, so public, that I was very easy to find online. And I wanted to talk about therapy, oh, I did. It was my love. I still love it. Except I’m not practicing as a therapist at the minute – though perhaps that will come back into my life as I more fully integrate motherhood into my roles – and that makes it difficult to remember why I wanted to be anonymous online.

I’m friends with many people from here and twitter on facebook. I’m shit at replying to emails, I fully recognize and admit that – and apologize to those of you who have waited weeks or months to hear from me. I have trouble leaving comments on other blogs from my phone. But I am here. Many of you have seen my face, know my children’s real names, and two of you have MET my children!

One of you named her child after me. More of you have sent amazing and thoughtful gifts for my children or myself.

The thing is, you know me. So what do I do? Somehow reread and erase past entries about therapy? I think it’d be impossible for anyone who has read any part of this – well, pre-pregnancy, at least – to not understand that I work with other people for a living. With their pains and fears and hopes and pasts and presents. I like it. It’s part of who I am.

So do I acknowledge that and be more me anyway? I don’t know. I feel like going more public is a choice that accompanies a decision to not work as a therapist. Though I also have deep mixed feelings about how much ‘self’ to share with clients – would the world really collapse if they had outside proof I was really human? Of course not.

So, for now, we stick to headless pictures and cute pseudonyms. I don’t link to my blog on facebook, family and old friends don’t know I’m here, I’ve carved this space for myself. I don’t quite know how to integrate the spaces, but I suspect that’s because I don’t quite know how I’m going to move forward in life.

And I’m mostly okay with that.

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Reflections on why I was the only white person in the village at my last job.

June 16, 2010

Wow, it’s the morning after the post the night before. I am utterly blown away by the personal, profound, and thought provoking comments you guys have left. I sincerely encourage everyone to click back and read the comments – and I have replied to each and every one on the thread. I will continue to do so should more appear.

It was a common occurrence that while reading, I would feel an internal ‘click’ and have a moment of clarity. So many of the comments are written more elegantly than I was able to write yesterday. So many of you ‘get’ what I’m saying, and that has made me feel comforted, understood, and celebrated. So thank you.

A few years ago, I got into an interesting conversation with some friends. From my side of things, I looked around one day and realised all my closest friends were not white (with exception of several lovely people, who usually happened to be gay, Jewish, etc) . At my job, white people were certainly not the dominant group (I’m white, for those who don’t know) and there was a huge diversity of people. Weirdly, whenever we all got together there’d be a white table, a black/asian table, and then a mixed table. I always found myself the only white person on the ‘non-white’ table, or in the mixed group.

And my closet friends then? A mixed race guy, a black guy, a mixed race girl (all straight). Time and time again, we were able to have discussions that none of us had with other staff members/friends. Time and time again, I was actively welcomed into the visible minority groups…and this is a pattern with me. When walking into a room of strangers, I will always pick (and be picked, thankfully!) to sit by people who are visibly minorites in some way (and I admit to sometimes using my ‘gaydar’ to make assumptions) OR to sit by anyone who is sitting by themselves and looks left out.

I am attracted to people who ‘get’ what it means to be a minority. Whether this is by firsthand knowledge (or being the partner of, relative of, etc) of being gay, black, mixed, asian, disabled…and the other myriad of ways people can be different.

I guess what my friends understand is that while every person is unique, some people are part of proud and strong minority groups. For these people, their skin colour or sexuality helps them to define who they are. They delve deeply into themselves for a wider or clearer understanding, they are aware of white privilege, of sexual politics, etc. My friends are a good group of people.

I am the person sitting at the table in the pub talking about mental illness and the impact it has on my friends’ lives. I am the person engaged in discussion about how powerful our groups could be if we joined together rather than pulling apart. I am the one having TMI conversations about how my Muslim friends get out of Ramadan fasting by pretending they have their periods, joking about how my Jewish friend brought me wonderful bagels at Christmas, listening to the impact of being mixed race. (I hope ‘mixed race’ offends no one….it is the going term here in Country B, I have no idea what terms are deemed okay elsewhere – enlighten me!)

Of course, my life has changed now in that my disability and family situation separates me from this old style of communication, but not my way of being.

I spent a long time on the phone with Aussie yesterday. (She’s not white, for those keeping track. Get out your racial identity scorecards!!) She instinctively understood what it meant to be different as an individual and as a couple, as her fiance is white. She is also Christian, and we had a deep and lovely discussion about the context the Bible was written in, the differing translations, and on and on. She enriches me.

She gives me understanding. We are both such pieces of this and that, and I suppose this allows us to understand and communicate easily.

I guess the difference between gay and non-white (sorry, hate this term but wanted to include all people who weren’t white)  people is that a gay child might be hated or rejected by their own family not just because they pick an ‘unsuitable’ partner, but because of who they are – even just on their own. Another difference is that my non-white pals are easy to pick out in a crowd, whereas I am invisible. I long to be visible, as my invisibility hurts me time and time again when people ask about  my husband, talk about my kids growing up to be straight (I don’t care either way, you understand, but I want them to not feel pushed aside or invisible should they be queer). Of course, I’ve not BEEN a visible minority my entire life so can’t speak to what it’s like….though certainly spending a lot of time in a wheelchair or on crutches has given me more insight. The flip side of being visible is that there is nowhere to hide, you are judged instantly (whether people admit it or not), and you are ‘outed’ without your consent.

I am the counsellor who adores working with trans people, who has worked extensively with people with mental illnesses, who likes supporting people to be curious about themselves…and ultimately accept themselves. I was the teacher who liked to speak in another language, and never felt more at home then when surrounded by Deaf people. Oddly, while speaking (signing!) all the time (for an admittedly short placement!) in another language freaked me out initially, I felt easily at home and I’m under no illusions that being gay has helped me to be comfortable in being different.

I am the mother who is already picking out books on diverse sorts of families and reading them to her babies who don’t yet understand. All they know is that they are loved and our family is lots of fun.

I cannot speak for black/asian/etc people, I cannot speak for all gay people, but I can speak for me.

I am instinctively more comfortable with people who have an understanding, or a willingness to understand, minority issues. Lucky for me, that circle of friends is expanding to include of lot of people who happen to be white, straight mothers (though lots of new bi/trans/gay moms as well!) who are raising the next generation to make choices based on love rather than fear.

Hopefully that’s something we can all get behind.