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January 18, 2017


to understand. to apologize. to organize.


To organizeDuring high school, I got involved with a church where the teachings inspired me to believe that among other things, gay people would go to hell. Some of the sentences I uttered back then to champion that perspective are ... in hindsight ... shameful and embarrassing.

In college, I got involved with classes and readings that inspired me to understand that throughout history, a person's sexual orientation is extremely fluid. I got involved in conversations with humans within this fluid spectrum and realized that love isn't about commanding anyone to love a certain way. Love is about knowing that each person loves in his/her unique way.

After college, during my career, I became inspired to believe and utter other things that now, in hindsight, I am ashamed of. It relates to the story I shared yesterday related to my late brother. Prior to his passing, I remember uttering things like "Choose happy" and "Get over it" to various people. I've learned since then that for people suffering from chronic depression, they are not choosing to be sad and it is not a character deficit that keeps them battling the grips of depression. 

What brings a depressed person out of darkness is not just one thing. It could be talking with a good therapist or friend. It could be medication. It could be meditation. It could be prayer. It could be, as Allie Brosh (author of Hyperbole and a Half) describes so brilliantly, seeing a funny-looking pea under a refrigerator.

I think there's a huge difference between "Choose happy" which is a command statement and "I choose happy," which is a statement of personal truth. A statement of personal truth declares what I believe and feel without judging or shaming or commanding another human to believe and feel.

"I choose happy" vs. "Be happy" and "I love men" vs. "All women should love men" and "Buddha is my way" vs. "Buddha is the only way" and "I am atheist" vs. "You should be an atheist."

To those who are in the grips of depression who may have ever heard me utter command statements of how to feel and to anyone to whom I may have ever said how to love, I want to officially say that I now better understand. And I apologize.

This Saturday, women are marching worldwide to speak up among other things, for women's rights which are human rights. The main march in Washington is estimated to have the largest turnout for an inauguration-related protest in US history. Where things go after the march as women seek to organize, I don't know but I'm ready to go through it. As a marcher in the Santa Ana sister march, I have received lots of supportive remarks. I've also received some not-so-supportive remarks with the most popular being: "Get over it," a command statement. To which I say: "I'm not over it," my personal truth.

 

 

Comments

Beautiful, thank you, Jenny! I don't think I had thought about the "command" aspect of saying "Be Happy" ... language is so important and I desire to be more aware of these nuances.

You expressed perfectly my frustration when people say be happy, be positive, just let it go. Most often not to me but to others I have heard these well meaning but hurtful and confusing comments. Love you for your ability to communicate the unspoken!

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