Category Archives: more than meets the eye

Papa

Last week was hard.  But also beautiful.  And terrible.  And lovely.

I sat in a room filled with family as we all shared stories about my wonderful grandfather.  We laughed as much as we cried and the nurses looked the other way when we smuggled in my grandfathers dog – Buster – for a final snuggle before he passed.  It was a hard thing to witness, but beyond the sadness of his last moments I witnessed the greatest people I’ve ever loved gathering to be there for the kindest man I’ve ever known and it made me realize how lucky we are to have someone who is so hard to say goodbye to.

“This is what it’s supposed to be like,” I told Victor.  “A celebration.  Kindness.  Understanding.  Laughter.  Compassion.  This is how you know you made a difference.  This is what we all should hope for in the end.”

I learned stories about my grandfather I’d never heard before.  About being raised by bootleggers during prohibition and inventing imaginary cows and working on planes in the military.   He was the most religious man I’ve ever met but his brand of religion was in kindness and love.  He was a quiet man but he wasn’t afraid to speak out when the church made what he thought were recent missteps.  Hailey came out as gay at the same time his church decided to not conduct gay marriage and although I never knew it he let his disappointment in their decision be known.  I know that he’d have felt the same way whether Hailey was gay or not, but it was so lovely to know that he was fighting for her and for others like her in his own quiet way.   I wonder how often others are fighting for us behind the scenes.  They say that you never know what battles others are fighting at the moment but I often forget that we never know how many good and wonderful people quietly move the world forward in such important and positive ways.  Those people don’t make the news.  But they make the world.

If you read my post before this one you read about the silver moth and how I saw it as a sign that we’d all gather together to be with my grandfather as he flew away home.  On the night that he passed the moon was so enormous in the sky that I pulled my mom and sister outside and we stared at it in silence.  August’s full moon is sometimes called The Flying Up Moon, because it’s when birds fledge and fly away.  It felt like a sign.  But things often do when you are reaching for meaning in sadness.

Then at the burial my grandfather’s dear friend told a parable about belief in the afterlife even when you doubt and it seemed fitting.  And then everyone gathered together at the grave sang a song I had not been expecting.  I’ll Fly Away.

I am a girl who believes in signs.

My grandfather was such a force for good that he leaves a hole in the world.  I hope to fill it.  With compassion and love and forgiveness and generosity and most importantly joy.  Instead of flowers he asked that people support Planned Parenthood or Bread for the World or – most importantly – to go out and commit a simple act of kindness for a friend or loved one or a stranger.

Be kind to one another.  It makes a difference.

 

 

The silver moth

A day ago I was in the pool when this happened:

And then this happened:

And then this happened:

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Part 3. WTF YOU GUYS.

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Now I am a girl who believes in signs and I assumed the first sign was that I now had a new pet.  I was going to name her Mothra but then someone on twitter was like, “Kate Moth” and that was pretty great and then someone on instagram was like, “WING CROSBY” and there’s no way we’re getting better than fucking WING CROSBY but then Wing flew away to a rose bush so it was moot.

The second sign, however, was a bit more concerning.  According to the (never wrong) internet, the moth represents faith.  They are nocturnal creatures that belong to the dark, but they are driven toward the light for some reason.  And I can very much relate to this so I nodded and starting planning my moth tattoo.  Then I read that this specific moth (the sphinx moth) is sometimes considered an omen of death.  And that seemed not so great so I decided to ignore that part.  And then today my mom called to tell me that my grandfather has taken a bad turn and that it might not be long now.

So.

So now my parents are on the way to my house and my sister is flying in at midnight.  And tomorrow we’ll all drive together to Austin to be with my wonderful grandfather.  I don’t think we’ll be able to actually say goodbye.  I don’t believe he’ll regain consciousness.  But we say that we love each other every time because you don’t know when will be the last time so I know he knows he’s loved.

My grandfather is a truly wonderful man.  He’s the most religious person I’ve ever met, but also the least likely to press his beliefs on you or judge you.  He’s the quiet man making furniture for family in his workshop.  He’s the man wearing the “LITERALLY ANYONE ELSE 2020” shirt who is quietly giggling at the grumpy looks he may get from others in the retirement home.  He’s the guy who takes you out for ice cream every time and tells you the same stories over and over but with such love that you want to hear them.  He’s the man who sneaks too much food to the dog and whispers to the dog not to tell anyone.  The man who would never curse but will laugh at your dumb profanity-laced blog and love you unconditionally.  He is a light.  He’s the kind of person who makes you want to be the person he thinks you are.

He’s been struggling for a long time, in rehab after a terrible fall that he never quite recovered from.  He’s been on a vent and I know he’s had a really hard time of it.  So even though I’m sad I know that there will be relief for him in letting go.  And if there is a heaven I have no doubt at all he will end up there.  He makes me believe in heaven, and that is something.  So for now my family will gather will around until we have answers, and we will be there for him and for each other as we wait for the moment when my grandfather will fly away home and when – together – we will move through the darkness and look again for the light.

You don’t have to do it all.

Hey, I’m going to tell you something I wish someone had told me a long time ago. Your mental health is important.  That seems like it goes without saying but so often we push past the safe zone for all sorts of reasons.  If you’re on social media one of the biggest drains and mental health struggles you may have is the fact that you want to rail against all the injustices in the world and feel that you should because you have important stories to tell.  And you do.  And I want to hear them.

But not at the expense of your safety.

I struggle a lot with the fact that I have a great platform and a strong voice but I don’t always use it to say all the things I want to say because honestly I’m not always in a strong enough place mentally.  I fixate on terrible things and it gives me a skewed idea of the world and I have to have Victor shut off my internet until I can reset and realize that there is far more good than bad even when the bad gets all the press.

What I am saying is that it’s okay to not always share your story or bare your soul or open yourself up to pain.  You owe it to yourself to be safe, because if you aren’t safe then you can’t help anyone.

If you pick up the banner and do the hard work of making this world a better place then you are a hero and I commend you and I appreciate you and I am so damn grateful that you are there when I can’t be.  And sometimes I’ll pick up that banner when I am strong and you are not, and you can rest knowing that there are kind people fighting the good fight on your behalf even when you aren’t looking.

It takes strength to fight for others.  It also takes strength to protect yourself.  No matter where you are today, know that you are important and loved and we’re going to be okay.

I’ll promise you if you promise me.

Tell me a story.

When I was little I asked my mom to tell me a story all the damn time and she always would.  Last Mother’s Day I asked her to tell me a story again.  Or more specifically, I asked her to tell me 52 stories because I bought her a subscription to StoryWorth.  Each week she got an email asking a question about her life and each week I got an email back with her answers.  And when she’s finished StoryWorth will wrap it all up in a lovely book we can keep forever.

I almost never do full sponsored posts but I make an exception for StoryWorth because I love the stories they’ve given to me about my family.  I’ve shared a lot of my dad’s StoryWorth stories but today I want to share a few things I’ve learned from my mom:

How did you decide to get married?

Back in the 70’s we had the Vietnam War and the Draft. Henry had one semester of college under his belt when his number was about to be called.  Henry joined so he could choose his “career”. You rarely saw an accountant on the front lines.

He was in Boot Camp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for about 6 weeks. We decided to marry as soon as he graduated.

While Henry was gone I sewed my wedding gown. I found the easiest pattern there was and jumped in. All went well until I realized the back and the sleeves were held together by tiny little buttons that looped around tiny little elastic loops. I almost put zippers in, but my Aunt Ollene talked me through it.

I wanted Henry to wear his dress blues, but his Mom asked if he would wear a suit. She didn’t want to be reminded that he was in the service during a war so it was easy to agree to her wish.

We were married at the Wall Brethren Church in Wall Texas. It was a sweet little church that Henry’s parents had attended forever. It had one round stained glass window of Jesus holding a lamb. The church has been rebuilt. It is much bigger, has more stained glass windows.  They still have the Jesus window.

 

What have been some of your life’s greatest surprises?

I became pregnant with Jennifer while taking the Pill. The best surprise ever.

I became pregnant with Lisa while using an I.U.D. Again, the best surprise ever.

Then I had my tubes tied so there would be no more best surprises ever.

 

Did you have a job while you were in high school?

In high school I became a Nurses Aid. I really loved it.

I went to work from 6:45 A.M. until 10:00 A.M, Then I caught a city bus to Central High and had classes until 3:00 P.M. On week-ends I worked full shifts on the Labor and Delivery floor at Shannon Hospital.

When I had free time I was allowed in the delivery room. It was amazing! Of course I was in the corner and could only watch in the reflection of the mirror. Fathers were allowed only if THEY asked, and I was told to NEVER suggest that they would want to be in the delivery room.

I cleaned blood, and puke, and poop. But I loved going to work.

 

How did you choose your children’s names?

Jennifer’s name should be Montana! Montana Melody Dusek. Practically from the time we knew we were pregnant that name was top of her father’s list. Don’t ask me where the idea came from. It was fully formed and waiting for a new baby.

All I know is that she so didn’t look like a Montana. The baby didn’t fit the name. She just seemed to be Jennifer.

Lisa was a different story. Henry was getting out of the service and had no job lined up. We had a small amount of savings to tide us over. Then,wham, pregnant! No house,no job,no insurance, and the chance that removing the I.U.D. would cause a miscarriage. Lots of drama.

We found a house and my mother-in-law helped Henry paint the interior. We put a room together for Jenny and nameless baby. And once again, there was a baby and her name was Lisa. Don’t ask me how. Maybe the Angel of names was sitting on our shoulders and whispered the perfect name for each of our girls. I just know that their names are them.

 

Who is the wisest person you’ve known? What have you learned from them?

I think I would nominate my PaPaw as one of the wisest people I have known.

He’s been on my mind all week.  When I visited my Mom on Thursday he was in all her memories. With her dementia memories are her greatest comfort.

She talked about helping him in the fields, Working in the barn with him. Taking walks around the fence line to check for weak spots. She was his shadow.

As a child he told me to mind my manners, be quiet because kids were meant to be seen and not heard, and to only take small portions of dinner so there would be enough for everyone (seconds were encouraged ). Then he would look over at the razor strop he kept on the back wall. All he had to do was LOOK and you knew to behave.

He told me to brush my teeth everyday, and not eat a lot of sweets. Then he would pop his false teeth out half-way, suck them back and smile. Freaked me right out.

He kept pigeons in the back -back -back of their property. When he found my cousin and me chasing them from one end to the other he pulled a big snake skin out of an egg box. Then he told us how snakes shed their skin because they are growing larger, and why don’t we try to find that snake to see just how big he was now. We never went back into the pigeon shed.

He never raised a hand to us, and never raised his voice. He treated us as equals and expected us to behave, and we did.

I miss him.

 

Wha’s something you learned from your mom?

From my Mom I learned to love baking. She baked great cakes.

I learned to keep a clean house.

I learned that if your husband is a cheating scum-bag you walk out the door with your head held high, move to where your family is and get a job to support you and your kids.

 

Who are the best cooks in your family?

My Mamaw (my mom’s mom) made the BEST peach cobbler. It was flavorful, and the crust was flakey and sweet and delicious. She made this cobbler for 60 years and never told anyone the recipe. She wouldn’t even let anyone in her kitchen when she was making it. I assume she wanted to be the only one who brought it to family dinners.

I did learn a lesson from this. Always share your recipes, and teach anyone wanting to learn how you made a dish.

If I live long enough I will have to stop cooking. Eventually Mamaw began using salt instead of sugar, and would leave meals on the table for hours and hours. We never figured out how she kept from giving Papaw botulism.  My mother quit cooking when she entered the early stages of dementia.  Personally, I will enjoy cooking and eating every meal I have left in me.

****

So now you know a little more about my family.  And I do too.

StoryWorth is a great gift for your parents or grandparents because in the end it’s a gift for you.  And for Mother’s Day StoryWorth is offering a year of weekly stories bound in a keepsake book for $79 if you order by May 12th.  (It’s also great for spouses and even for yourself if you want some writing prompts to start your memoirs.)  I cannot recommend it enough.  Click here to check it out.  

In and out and back again.

Last week I got hit with a major bout of depression.  I did all the things I’m supposed to do.  Nothing helped.  Usually when this happens I wait it out.  I’m stronger than my mental illness even though it feels like an inescapable monster when it’s here.  Then Sunday I took a darker turn.  And Monday I was worse.  There are a few things that come when my depression gets really bad.  Exhaustion, almost flu-like.  My peripheral vision goes away.  My body goes numb and my face feels heavy and weighted down.  When it’s really bad I stare out at a fixed point and can’t move my eyes from that spot, like I’m paralyzed for several seconds at a time.  In some ways it’s a relief to have physical signs of what’s happening…to remind myself that it’s real and not just in my mind…but it’s also terrifying to have your brain take over your body when your brain is the most dangerous place to be.

I called my doctor.  I got an appointment for next week to see the doctor who did my Transcranial Magnetic Therapy so we can see if booster sessions might help shake me out of this.

And then…almost as suddenly as it appeared…it vanished.

This happens sometimes.  Usually it’s a slow process of several days recovery but this time it just went away.  I was left feeling exactly how you feel after you stop throwing up from food poisoning…shaky, vulnerable, empty, exhausted, terrified that it’s not over, but so incredibly grateful that my body belonged to me again.

I want to cancel my appointment with my doctor.  I want to pretend this week didn’t happen.  But it did and it may be a fluke or it may be a sign that I need more help.  I will continue to work the program.  I will continue to fight battles in my head.

I always feel bad writing about mental health stuff because I know I’m tired of feeling it so I’m sure you are tired of hearing about it but it’s a relief to be able to lay it all out here and to read back and see how far I’ve come…to see that I may struggle with these seemingly invisible enemies but that I have a perfect record (so far) of beating them.  And you do too if you are reading this.  I’m proud of you.  I hope you are proud of yourself.

Have the talk.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s the importance of having the talk with your kid.  Not the sex talk, although that one is important too.

The talk that says things will be hard but that you will be there with them no matter what.  The talk that says here is what to do when you feel desperate, or suicidal, or confused or hurt or alone or broken.  Here is what you do when you are afraid.

Having a talk with your kids about sex doesn’t make them have sex.  Having a talk about llamas doesn’t make them llamas.  Having a talk with your kids about suicide won’t make them suicidal.  Having a talk with your kids about mental illness doesn’t give them mental illness.  It does, however, give them tools to help recognize things that might otherwise confuse or terrify them.  It may help them to recognize things in themselves or in their friends.  And that can save a life.

They may not understand your talk.  They may think it’s pointless or even silly.  They may not even remember all of the details if they never deal with these sorts of struggles.  But they will remember that you are there to listen and that you are there to help and that there is nothing that they can’t get through.  That a lot of the problems that seem  massive when you’re a kid or teenager will be forgotten at 21.  That it’s okay to fail.  That it’s okay to vent and cry.  That it’s okay to ask for help…even more importantly…that it’s their duty to ask for help.

This isn’t easy.  It’s not easy for parents.  It’s not easy for kids.  But it’s needed.  So to make it a little easier I’m going to share a few things that I’m learning as a parent.  I also asked for an expert opinion on talking with teens and that expert is my teen who gave me great feedback on things that helped her during any struggles she’s had in life.

What is something that you wish you’d told your kids when they were younger…the thing that maybe you learned the hard way or that made a big difference?  

me: I wish I’d asked ‘How are you really?’ and repeated it a few times to get past the basic ‘Great’ and into the real details of what’s going on in her head.  I wish I’d explained that just because someone’s struggle doesn’t look like mine it doesn’t mean that their struggle isn’t just as real and just as hard.

What’s the thing you wish that you were asked?

Hailey: I wanted someone to ask “What do you need?”  Not just “Are you okay?” or “How was your day?” but “What do you actually need from me that I’m not doing?”

What do you want to hear?

Hailey:  Not “You’re fine.  Don’t worry.”   Because when you don’t feel fine and everyone keeps saying that you are you feel even worse.  I wish someone would have told me that it was okay to not be fine sometimes.  I want to hear that there are ways to fix it.

What advice would you give parents about talking to their kids?

Hailey:  Maybe ask the school counselor how your kid is.  They see them at school and might know a lot more about what’s going on that they aren’t sharing.  Make sure your kids aren’t just talking to you about their problems because it’s really helpful to vent to people who aren’t your parents.

What would you tell kids who are struggling right now?

Hailey: Talk to someone.  Find someone to listen.  You can even practice on your stuffed animals if you have to until you find the right words.

me:  Don’t give up.

******

Your turn.  Talk to your kids.  Ask them what they need to hear.  Share what you’ve learned here if you think it could help someone else.  Parenting is terrifying and we are constantly fucking up.  What is perfect for one kid is not for another.  We bumble through and try to make the right decisions and fail and succeed and hide and celebrate and do wonderful and terrible things…just like the kids we are raising.  But we don’t have to do it alone.

You are not alone.

*****

PS. This is a very serious post and I don’t like serious so I’m leaving you with this:

via GIPHY

If you’re reading this, you win.

Hi.

If you are reading this, you win.

If you are reading this it means you’re here.  It means that you’ve made it through the bullshit that life has thrown at you.  It means you’re still surviving.  It means that you are stronger than every bad thing that has ever tried to take you down.

It means that you are brave.  And strong.  Stronger than you think.

It means that you are broken.  Because you can’t get through it all without being touched by challenges you’ve fought through, and are still fighting through.  But broken is okay.  As Leonard Cohen said, the cracks, after all, are how the light gets in.

If you are reading this it means that you have touched people.  That you have helped others in so many ways.  In reading this you remind me that my words are important…that my struggle is worth it.  You make differences every day without even knowing it.

If you are reading this you probably feel guilty.  You have screwed up.  You regret.  That’s okay.  That’s how you grow.  That’s how you learn.  If you have regrets it means that you care, and that same empathy and introspection are what make you compassionate and kind.

If you are reading this I love you.  Even if I haven’t met you yet.  Even if we never meet.  There aren’t enough of us out there in the world…the misfits and the weirdos.  Stick around. Be my friend.  And I will be yours.  Forever, if you are reading this.

I’m back?

Okay.

So.

Wow.

Turns out it’s really hard to write about emotional things and even harder when they involve someone you love whose privacy you want to protect.

If you read my last blog post you know that the last few weeks have been really awful for our family.  You also know that I can’t share details because it’s hard when things live forever on the internet and unfortunately there are still stigmas that linger today.

One day I will write about it though because it’s important.  And because I have been flooded with emails and DM’s from people who could read between the lines and have been through the exact same thing.  And they think they’re alone because they don’t share the details because they also want to respect privacy.  And that’s wonderful.

And terrible.

It’s wonderful to respect the people we love and protect them from the world.  It’s terrible that so many people are struggling.  It’s wonderful to know that we are not alone…that it’s something SO, SO many families deal with.  It’s terrible to know that so many of us battle this in the terrifying quiet of our houses.

One day, perhaps a few years from now, I’ll write about this.  Maybe with the help of the person I love.  I suspect this will be a very long story one day, and one that may help others.  I hope by the time I write it I will have more answers than questions and less fear and doubt in myself.  I hope that last week is the worst week of my life…that it gets better from here.  I hope…no…I know that every day is a step forward and a new opportunity.

Here’s what I’ve learned that I can share with you:

  1.  Depression in me doesn’t always look the same as depression in you.  Seemingly happy, outgoing, successful people can have it.  And it can be really confusing and painful to them because it presents in such strange ways that they don’t realize that they’re dealing with it until they are in a dangerous state of mind.  Depression in kids can look different than depression in adults.  Depression in extroverts can look different than depression in introverts.
  2. Everything you’re dealing with that you think is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone?  It’s happened to people you know and love.  It’s happening now.  You are not alone.
  3. There are amazing tools available that can make an incredible difference.  Medication, therapy, etc.  There are brilliant people who will rescue you who want to help.  You may not know them yet.  You will meet them.  They will save you.  And you will save someone else.
  4. People are fighting much harder battles than we know.  Be kinder than you have to be.
  5. There are bad resources.  There are bad hospitals or doctors or therapist or tools.  There are good resources that are bad for your particular needs.  You will go through these as you look for help.  It’s okay to say, “This isn’t right.  I deserve better.”  You do.
  6. Communication is important.  Love is necessary.  Compassion and laughter are key.  Cheesecake is great.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Doctor Who reruns are medicinal.
  7. It is a gift to take care of someone you love.  It is exhausting and terrifying and guilt-inducing and it is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.  Reach out to the people who love you when you need help.  I promise you they want to help.  And if they don’t understand, call the suicide hotline.  They can help.  They’ve helped me.
  8. It’s okay if you make a mistake.  We’re born to make mistakes.  Keep trying.  It’s going to be okay.
  9. You’ll get through this.
  10. You are not alone.

Today is the first day in a long time that feels normal.  I think (I hope, I hope) that we’re on a good path.  My family is safe and this morning we ate breakfast together and laughed.  We have each other and I’m so grateful for it.  I’m grateful for you too.  For listening…for understanding…for being there.

I’m crossing my fingers that the next blog posts will be back to the silly and irreverent ridiculousness.  I’m ready to get back to normal…or as close to normal as I’ve ever been.  I think we’re on the right path.

Thank you.  I love you.

I don’t have a good graphic to add here so here’s a video of Hunter S. Thomcat doing a hurtfully accurate impression of me:

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Catspreading.

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I’m struggling.

So many of you have reached out because you’ve noticed I’ve gone missing for a week on social media and that’s never happened before. I’m so sorry I worried you.

This week has been the hardest of my entire life.

I’ve struggled with what to say because I don’t know what to say.  I am an open book and I write everything, but this isn’t just my story and I want to respect that.  I’m afraid of doing harm by sharing it.  I’m afraid of doing harm by not sharing it.  I don’t know the answer yet.

Here’s what I do know.  Today I feel terrified but so much less helpless than I did at the beginning of the week.  There are good people who are doing important work to help.  I have more knowledge and insight than I had before.  I have guilt and fear.  I have hope.

Perhaps one day soon I’ll be able to share all of this with you.  Or maybe not.  But either way, please know that I welcome your prayers or white light or thoughts of love for my family.

There is one thing that you can do for me.

Reach out to those you love and tell them how important they are to you.  Tell them that if things seem bleak and hopeless that you are there to tell them how necessary they are.  Reach out to the shiny, happy ones too…and the strong ones…because so often they are the best at hiding the pain they feel until it is too late.  Hold your family tight.  Ask your children how they are.  Then ask them again how they really are.  Listen to the things said and to the things unsaid.

If you are struggling and think that your life is not important, please trust me when I say that you are so wrong.  You are so important and there are people waiting to meet you and find the magic in you.  Please reach out to get help.  Do not trust your lying brain.  And know that the darkness you feel can be conquered….sometimes over and over again…and that you are special and unique and your brokenness can lead to a kind of empathy that will save the world.  Don’t deprive us of that.  We need your magic.  We need you.

I love you.

My amazing daughter. Alternate title: I don’t think you’ll have a problem with this at all but if you do you can fuck all the way off.

A few years ago when Hailey was 12 she announced that she had something to tell me over breakfast.

“I’m gay.”

I responded with “Okay.  But could you hand me the syrup?”

I suspect she was disappointed in my reaction because it was scary for her to say out loud but it didn’t really affect me for two reasons.  One: At that time it seemed like lots of very young kids were coming out and I was a little concerned that for some of them it was an identity they were just trying on.  It worried me for kids who really are LGBTQ if a ton of young people came out and then later decided they were straight and that being LGBTQ was just a fad.  And two:  Because I’m not an asshole.  I support all people.  I’m openly bi myself.   I told Hailey that it wasn’t an issue but that maybe until she was older she should embrace the “no labels” concept.  Ironically, the “no labels” idea requires you to label yourself as not having a label but it felt right at the time and I was very proud of the way that Victor and I handled this, which was by not handling it at all because it wasn’t a big deal.

Except?  It is a big deal.  Maybe not to me or you, but to her.  And by not taking it seriously and discussing it I think she thought that we didn’t care, or that we didn’t think it was important.  It’s easy for me to say that the world is so much more open and caring than every before but that ignores the fact that everything a teenage girl goes through is viewed through the lens of low self-esteem and fear and shame and hormones and that is all magnified if there’s also an otherness that you are carrying around with you…a fear that comes every time she explains who she is.  Everything in junior high sucks but there’s an added layer of hell that comes with knowing you’re not like everyone else.

Hailey is very lucky.  We support her fully.  She’s out at school and has friends who support her.  Her family loves her.  There are communities she can join and there are far more out kids in her school than there ever were when I was growing up.  Today there are parades and twitter trends and celebrations.  It’s different and better and I’m so thankful to the people who’ve come before her who have made this path so much easier for her.

I’ve never been to a Pride parade. I’m not a parade girl.  I’m not a people girl.  But last year I told Hailey we should all go.  Victor and I were ready.  She was not.  She was out to her friends but not loudly out, and she worried about what would happen if kids from her school saw her there.  I explained that tons of straight people and queer allies go to those parades.  I reminded her that I was bi.  I told her it might be good for her to see difference celebrated.  She thought about it for a while but decided she wasn’t ready for that yet.

And I understand it.

The concept of Pride is a weird one for me too…the idea of celebrating something that is as simple as who you love.  It’s weird that it’s still something that has to be fought for, that we’re still in a place where it’s considered brave to be exactly who you are.    But at the same time, there is so much shame and prejudice around sexuality that it’s necessary to loudly support all people in order to combat the hate that still exists out there.

So we let Hailey take the reins on how she wants to tell her own story.  Over the past few years she’s become more confident in who she is and the fear is still there, but it is not as great as her need to be loved and accepted for who she is.  Today she told me that she would be okay with me telling this part of her story.  In fact, she said, it would make her happy.

And that makes me happy.  You’re only as happy as your saddest child, after all.

Having a teenager is hard.  You fuck up all the time.  I think maybe I shouldn’t have acted like it was no big deal when she told me.   Maybe I should have recognized that even though it wasn’t a big deal to me it was a big deal to her.  I don’t know.  I only know that I’m trying my best and that I will do anything to create a safe passage for her.  As safe as can be.

Hailey is now 14.  She is openly a lesbian.  After two years I can tell you it isn’t a fad.  It’s part of who she is.  It’s one of many amazing parts that make up the brilliant woman she is becoming.  She is a singer, and actress, an honor roll student.  She works lights for the theater.  She has a temper.  She can whistle.  She is too young to date but one day she’ll make a great girlfriend to a lucky girl.  She stands up for others.  She can’t keep her room clean.  She memorizes dramatic monologues for fun.  She wears braces for bad ankles and is taking Opera lessons and loves her pets and can’t write in cursive and wants to be a neurosurgeon and adores American Horror Story (although I fast-forward through all the bad parts) and is so much more multifaceted than anyone sees.  The same as all kids her age, I suppose.

She’s my daughter and I am so very proud of her.  I hope you are too.