Monday, March 3, 2008

Women's History Month Blog Carnival: Come Together

written by Brittany Shoot, originally posted at http://www.brittanyshoot.com/

As an abuse survivor with a father who cheated on my mother, I’m not set up in life to trust men easily. I spent the last several years in intense feminist psychotherapy to finally own the demons of my past, and I’ve come through some incredible personal grief. In the end, I emerged ready to try my hand at love again, and I was lucky enough that it found me.

My closest friends have been wildly supportive, knowing the hurdles I have faced, and many fewer have acted in spiteful, jealous ways. I speak to almost no one about the negative reactions I’ve tolerated because they’ve been so painful and incomprehensible to me. Mostly, bitter feedback comes from those who don’t know me very well. They don’t know that my partner and I have spent countless hours deciding how to maintain independence while trusting and relying on one another. They don’t know how much I’ve personally navigated to be able to trust him, to trust myself. Perhaps they’re just angry that they can’t heal the way I have.

So in thinking about the pain this has caused me lately, how deeply hurtful I find their negative reactions to a major point of healing, survival, and triumph in my life, I made this little image, ala Post Secret, to showcase my confusion and frustration. It is incredibly unfortunate that in a time of such happiness, I feel my most secretive and isolated to protect what I have. I realize this isn’t the positive ray of light the feminist carnival is probably aiming to shine, but it sure felt therapeutic to make this, and that’s gotta count for something.

Brittany Shoot is a graduate student who lives with her partner and 20lb. cat, splitting time between Boston and Copenhagen. She believes in furniture and worries about the unfulfilled promises of feminist friendship.
Read more submissions to the Women's History Month blog carnival at Women's Space.

We have room for more submissions! If you missed the deadline or are inspired by the words of another contributor, send your essay, poem, artwork, video, etc. to cheryllindseyseelhoff@gmail.com or whattamisaid@gmail.com.

3 comments:

womensspace said...

Thanks for this, Brittany. You're right, this is so, so hurtful, this impulse women have to throw cold water on another woman's happiness or success or progress or love. I did something like this not long ago, actuall, and I could kick myself for it and would give anything to take back what I said. An old friend I care deeply about had followed her dreams, followed a new love into a new life, moved away. I should have encouraged and supported her, but if I couldn't, I should have held my peace. She is an adult woman, smart, in full possession of all of her faculties, and she wasn't asking for, and didn't need, my permission or my doubts or to hear about my apprehensions (especially in the way she did which is a whole nother story I won't get into.) When you get right down to it, mostly, I was afraid for her and for her children. But there was something else, I think, something like that she went ahead and did something that I would never have been able to do, but would have sort of liked to have felt free to do. So there was that undertow of jealousy there, and that particular undertow is absolute poison. One reason it is, is, women pick up on it. They know when it's operating, much of the time. And women can be jealous and not have the self-awareness to know that they are, or can be unable to admit that they are. It's a lot easier to feel self-righteous and lean into one's internal judge in times of envy or jealousy, to pronounce judgment or criticize, than to say, frankly, what we're really feeling, or to stop and ask questions. If the people who are critical of you asked about your situation, by the time the conversation was done, undoubtedly, you would be better friends than before, and in all likelihood, the undertow would vanish.

Well, I'm going on and on here. But thanks for this. Go you for all of your hard work and for finding the strength within yourself to move forward and risk again. That is *huge* for survivors.

Heart

Tami said...

I have been the bitter, jealous friend more than I care to admit--mostly in my 20s.

I think because women are constantly challenged for our choices, we tend to look for validation in the decisions of other women. Does that make sense? For instance, if I have decided that traditional marriage is the best thing for me, I need for it to be the best thing for you. If I am mistrustful of men, I need you to feel the same. Because we are so often shamed for how we feel, it is our way of fighting.

Brittany, this resonates with me, but as it relates to having children. I have chosen not to have biological children and a few weeks ago I wrote about the resistance I get from some women in the post "My uterus is my business."

I agree with Heart. Congratulations on the healing you have done. You have to make peace with your choices and not let other folks shake you.

B said...

Wow, thank you ladies. These are very heartwarming comments. As Heart said, conversation would solve a lot of these problems, but having them without angry defenses is so hard. I'm certainly guilty of judging my friends' decisions too, but I didn't make this because I'm doing a great job every day. I just made it because there are so many of us dealing with issues people will never know about (my entire family is in the dark about me being a survivor, for example), and to judge a situation without that information can be much more harmful than we realize.

When a friend recently accused me of spending too much time with my partner (who isn't American, is in the country to be with me, and then I'll go live with him in Denmark next year), I had to explain why this kind of situation makes behavior change. He's technically alone here except for me, as I will be when I'm with him, and while we're both introverts who don't mind being in this situation - quite the opposite - I still had to reexplain this to someone who knows us both quite well. When life is already so complicated every day, it felt so sad and overwhelming that this simple fact hadn't occurred to her and I was instead accused of being selfish with my time, etc.

I'm rambling too, but one more point. What Tami said (no pun intended) about children resonates with me COMPLETELY. I'm very young, but I also choose not to have children, ever, and I (probably like every other woman in this position) can't seem to ever make this make sense to people. I could not be more tired of reasoning with others that MY decisions are valid FOR ME.

Thanks again for posting this and commenting on it. I used to have a feminist blog but like many, got so much hate I shut down. But I still hang out in radical spaces, reading and taking it all in, and I really respect and appreciate that you both put yourselves out there so regularly and with such great analysis.

In solidarity,
brittany

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