Shades of Grey

Nope, not talking about the book series. Haven’t read them. Closest I’ve come is perusing a themed table display last time I went to the toy store. Looks to be a stimulating read. *ba-dum-tshh* 


Mommy porn jokes aside, a less well known author had this to say during our recent chat: “We all come to our beliefs and opinions by way of life experiences, and the ability to open our minds to the possibility that things aren’t always black and white.” She hit on something that is key to my worldview these days. I realized that I long ago abandoned black and white thinking in favor of a conviction that life is almost always much messier than that. 

It’s been really interesting the last few days to notice the response (or lack thereof) to my “coming out” blog post on Facebook. It’s an interesting arena in which to decide to become vulnerable and shatter people’s perceptions of who I really am. The committee-that-would-rule-my-brain (which I’m working on shutting down) came back with a vengeance last night as I observed a few things: 

-a distinct downturn in the number of “likes” of my posts, especially as concerns the ominous blog post 

-some random mini-rants stating, in effect: “You’re stupid, shut the hell up.” 

-only one 2 Peter 2 reference (I expected more of those)

There may in fact be more push-back, but I don’t care enough to go hunting for it. FYI: If you want to make sure I see your thoughts, you might want to tag me in on them. 

Committee-induced angst aside, here’s the thing: I’m totally okay with all of that. If you were comfortable with your idea of me, but not with the reality I let you in on, cool. I’m no stranger to criticism and I trust and encourage you to handle that in your own way. 

If I were to write my own “Shades of Grey”, it would read as a summary of the personal events that inform my decidedly fluid view of the world today: 

I married at 19 and had 6 amazing children over the next 17 years. I had a go at homeschooling them all until it became clear that I was spread so thin I wasn’t doing anything well. The 19th year of my marriage served as an excruciatingly painful and drawn out realization that despite the “once-married always-married, no excuses” conviction drilled into me through years of churching, I was not happy. 

I spent that year running away from my life in every way that I could while remaining physically in my marriage and my home. I was a far-from-engaged mom. I made a lot of really unhealthy decisions. I watched our so-called church “family” answer my husband’s plea for support in dealing with his lifelong battle with depression by blaming him for his “spiritual problem”. “Read your bible more” they said. “Pray more” they commanded. “You don’t need medication” they advised. 

And concerning the state of our marriage? Lots of high-horsery, judgment, and VICIOUS gossip. (I know, because the very few who actually cared enough to ask and listen were in the midst of it.) 

Following my husband’s suicide, I became a single mom to those 6 amazing kids. I sat on the steps and cried with my 8-year-old after her explanation-seeking, agony-fueled declaration that “Dad only killed himself because you left him.” I was chastised because I had failed in my duty to cook dinner for my husband. I moved to a city 400 miles away. (As an aside: If you think you can shut me up or hurt me with your judgment, you haven’t ever experienced the growing-a-thick-skin effect of going through a difficult time in a small town.) 

I became a first time college student at age 45. Despite the fact that I can be preoccupied and grumpy a lot of the time (thanks, perfectionism), it’s proven to be one of the best decisions I ever made. That grade obsession (and oh yeah, learning stuff) has resulted in a cumulative 3.91 GPA over the last 5 years, lots of grants, scholarships, & honors, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and study in Europe for 4 months, and the exponential growth of my knowledge base, my confidence, and my well-roundedness as a human being. 

I’ve been told I “read too much” (the inference being to please just shut up and maintain the status quo because you make me uncomfortable) and that I talk funny now / talk like a professor. (I think) those things were intended to be insults, but I’ll take them as a compliment, thank you. 

I’ve always loved reading, writing, and words in general. I’ve known for a long time now that some sort of written creative expression was in my future. Guess what…that desire has been gestating for a long time now, and this is the result: That baby has burst onto the scene with a vengeance. I’m excited to see where this takes me, even if only for the exercise in self-examination and self-expression. 

I had a mini-epiphany last night. I opened the bathroom cupboard to find an overflowing trash can, Q-tips and tissues littering the area surrounding the supposed receptacle for such things. My knee-jerk reaction was “Assholes! How dare my kids not share my aversion to fugitive rubbish!” This response was quickly replaced by a smile as I remembered yesterday’s unsolicited bear hug and expression of appreciation by my daughter for the job I’m doing as her mom. And then I emptied the trash my own damn self. 

It struck me as a metaphor for how I’m handling my feelings about (perceived and/or real) reactions to my revelations. There’s a lot of initial assholery-attribution, followed quickly by remembering that any criticizers have their own reasons for thinking & doing what they do, their own set of challenges that inform their opinions. And then I go back to taking care of my own junk. 

I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m able to do this in large part because I have a truly amazing support system. People who already know the “real” Deb and unashamedly love and support me. Before I even woke today, I had the privilege of being told via message that “You are good. You are loved. You are admired. There is a universal force that will connect you with your real tribe. They are waiting for you.” How awesome is that? Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty damn awesome :)