My own mother unfriended me on Facebook today.
No, surprisingly, it wasn’t because of my weird hobby where I dress in spandex and capes and squish myself into a room with a bunch of others doing the same. It wasn’t because I swear, like, a fucking lot. It wasn’t because I finally conceded that pineapple on pizza isn’t all that bad (or maybe I’ve just lived upstate too long). It was because of a man.
Specifically, an orange skinned man who used to be known as the rich guy who screamed “You’re Fired!”, with a flick of his wrist ushering hopefuls out of the door on ‘The Apprentice’, who, in a bizarre turn of events, is now the president of our United (?) States of America.
If you’ve been around this blog or any of my other social media for any period of time, you’d know that I’m plus sized, suffer from anxiety, depression, mild OCD and ADD. As a kid, although I wasn’t chubby, I was insufferably annoying. The ADD was one of the major reasons why I was bullied in elementary school. I was “the annoying girl” who nobody wanted to invite to their birthday parties, the one who was often the punchline of jokes, and the one who would come home day in and day out sobbing because I felt alone. They also told me I was ugly, a fact I believed for most of my childhood into my teenage years. I would often wonder why I looked this way and why I couldn’t look like anyone else. I really believed I was a disgusting creature who would eventually end up like this one particular neighborhood bag lady who would push herself in a wheelchair, uphill, wearing a bright yellow rain poncho.
However, when I would collapse on my bed sobbing into my pillow, my mother was always one to tell me to stand up for myself. She said the bullies just couldn’t handle my sparkle, and that one day I would see that they were just unhappy inside, and that bullies always got what was coming to them.
Unless, of course, the bully grows up to be the President of the United States of America.
Politically, I’ve always been the black sheep in the family. I listened to loud, angry, punk music growing up. Am I necessarily all “fuck the establishment?” No. But I was obsessed with Green Day and I thought the loud, angry strains of American Idiot were the deepest, most genuine things I’ve ever heard of. But before teenage me, there was younger me. Until around 8th grade, I didn’t know a thing about politics, except for what my parents would talk about in front of me. We rarely watched the news when we were younger, as my parents made a big deal about not exposing us to anything that might upset us. Things were also a lot less intense in the early 90’s. So, it’s no surprise that once I went out into the world, and began exposing myself to these different viewpoints, that I was able to figure out where I laid my priorities in the grand scheme of things.
But I felt this insane need to hide it from everyone. At home, I echoed back everything my parents said, because all I’d ever wanted was their approval. In high school, I remember not weighing in on political discussions, for fear that people would actually discover that I was [GASP] having different viewpoints than my parents. As if they’d punish me for something like that. Which, let’s be honest, I really don’t think they would have, but it just goes to show what type of power parents hold over their children, regardless of the fact if they know it.
My mother had always exposed me to real world issues, allowing me to express myself without weighing in herself. I remember vividly the day I came home after learning about abortion law, stating that I was pro-choice. My mother listened carefully to me about why I made that decision, and I remember being proud to have come to the conclusion that a woman’s body was her own, and she should be able to decide whether or not she should be able to birth a child. I don’t know what my mother’s stance is on this issue, but I felt, deep inside, she was proud of me too.
That’s why, when I saw [Add Friend], rather than the familiar Facebook timeline on my mother’s page, my heart sank.
Earlier today, many people on my timeline had been sharing around a quote regarding the protests and political unrest. It said, and I quote,
“I can be silent no more!” This sentiment is widespread, as if typing out our grievances will somehow solve the world’s problems. The democratizing force of the internet makes us all feel like our opinions are much more valuable than they really are.
It sounds harsh but most of our opinions don’t really matter. The only thing that matters is truth and action, and that is not the same as opinion. Of course, the problem is that we often confuse having an opinion with knowing the truth. We step onto our soapboxes and pontificate as if we have a full and comprehensive understanding of the truth. But we don’t.
I try to stay quiet when I see posts on Facebook to this effect, because while others have different opinions than me, I do try to respect them. But reading this post, alongside the quote “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”, I felt nauseous. Like all the air had been sucked out of my lungs. Suddenly, for the first time in this election saga, I felt truly defeated. My opinions don’t matter? I shouldn’t be able to stand up for myself? And the worst thing: my mother agreed with it?
I stared at the photo for a long while. I took a deep breath, and I commented on it. Why? Because I was told to stand up against bullies. I was told not to let anyone dull my sparkle.
Sister Theresa, whoever you are, who wrote this article, I honestly pray you find a shred of compassion in your cold heart. Your sentiment has effectively ostracized mother from child.
And to anyone who believes our opinions don’t matter…true, action is important, but without advocating for the cause, how will we know when to take action? How will we get the truth out there?
I for one, am sorry if my opinions upset people, especially my mother, who I have nothing but love and respect for, but that doesn’t mean I will censor myself for your comfort. In the next four years, at least, I will be plenty uncomfortable. So will many others.
And I won’t stop sparkling.