Monday, November 26, 2007

Whitewashed

I read a friend’s blog today and looked back over my own from the last few days and realized we were both guilty of a bit of whitewashing.

You know, censoring out the unpleasant and making lovely pictures of events. I know I wasn’t intentionally leaving out the difficulties. But leave them out, I did.

Why?

Partly because I think it’s dull to hear over and over again that I’m still having nightmares, Jeanine is still working too much, and my family of origin continues to be a battle, one that leaves me feeling small and powerless.

Boring.

I also tend to paint a picture of a perfect family structure, one with two moms, two dads and our three boys. But it isn’t. We often disagree, and struggle with our roles. There are triangles on top of triangles built. None of us came from picture perfect circumstances. We all have had to deal with questioning ourselves, our sexuality, how the world perceives us based on who we love, a process that leaves scars on your psyche, no matter how much therapy you do.

The truth is we fight, we argue, we don’t like each other at times. We wrestle constantly with the roles of who has what right to say what about the kids lives. Do we, the moms, get ultimate veto power because we are the legal parents or do the dads have as much right to demand something? We all have the same overall values but how it plays out on a daily basis can be very different.

We are far from perfect.

Some of it comes from a desire to show off our gay family as just as good, if not better, than anyone else’s. I can hear my mother’s voice telling me that raising children as lesbians was wrong. She loved her grandchildren, but at any given moment, no matter how loving and accepting she seemed, she was quick to point out how wrong it was.

I was guaranteeing them a life of pain, discrimination and being an “other.” I would shrug and say, last I looked, people of color were having children and their kids were in the same boat, only they didn’t have the choice to disclose their difference.

She hated that response. She would mutter something about it being different and a choice.

I love that. Oh, yes, being gay is a choice and because it is SO MUCH EASIER to live this way. Why, complete strangers are willing to come up and slit our throats simply because we breathe. I believe that was part of the recruitment literature.

Get free pass to be a hate crime victim! Be refused employment! Denied heath care benefits! Have family and friends reject you!

Some of the need to ignore the bad, highlight the good is because I’m tired. I don’t want to be someone with nightmares. I don’t want to work so hard all the time at relationships. I hate being afraid. If I close my eyes, and plug my ears, it will be better.

I’ve been guilty of a little whitewashing over the last few weeks. Painting beautifully lit domestic harmony, like Johannes Vermeer where the reality is more like a Jackson Pollack painting, smattering of globs of paint all over. I spend so much time trying to stay in the lines when the lines don’t even come close to the reality of my life. The irony is, when the boys were little, I would sit and color with them, purposefully crossing the thick black borders, creating other images that didn’t exist on the paper. I encouraged them to do the same.

And yet I sit here, waiting for the world to say I am good enough. Look at how well I draw. Not a single mistake.

My apologies for being less than truthful at times. It comes, I know, from a deep-rooted need to be accepted. Loved. Acknowledged. To silence the critic on my shoulder, always pointing out the flaws in my life. Telling me how messy everything is, how I'll always be a failure. A disappointment.

My life does not fit in the lines. Nor does it need to be whitewashed.

The trick is for me to see it's still beautiful.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Laura said...

Sara, we are all a little guilty of this.

In my head I have the perfect "Hallmark" family. When the truth is most times I feel like I am barely hanging on by a thread.

I WISH it were true that things were perfect. I spend a lot of time and energy TRYING to make it perfect - trying to make things ok, trying to overlook things, trying to smile, trying to be agreeable, trying to always stay one step ahead, trying to do whats right for everyone else.....its a ton of work and it is just exhausting.

But, in the end, I feel worse if I dont try.

I dont know what would happen if I stopped trying - that scares me more than anything.

I am constantly searching for acceptance too. My family loves and accepts me and my lifestyle. But somewhere deep down - even though they have never said it and swear its not true - I feel like a failure to them.

I am probably my own worst critic.



Oh, and the people who think this is a choice? I challange them to walk ONE F-ing day in our shoes...then make the same remark.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Sue J said...

>>The trick is for me to see it's still beautiful.<<

My partner and I got into a big yelling match Sat. morning about a little nail hole I put in the kitchen wall.

When we realized how unbelievably stupid this fight was, we both both just started laughing and laughing and fell into each other's arms.

Gotta love it.

I really enjoy reading your blog. Sometimes in life the whitewash goes outside the lines, and that's o.k., too. Life's messy sometimes.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

And we all, straight, gay or in-between, want our mamas to love us just the way we are. But the sad truth is, that just doesn't always happen. I've spent my life feeling like my mother doesn't really approve of me or the way I've raised my children, although I've done a fine job. Not perfect- far from perfect- but fine.
And I try my hardest to let my kids know that no matter what, THEIR mama loves them and is here for them.
And that's our job. Not pleasing our mothers, but giving our kids the kind of love we all deserve.
That's what I think, anyway.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Christy said...

I think that deep down, people know that no family is perfect. When I look at your beautiful picture essay, I come to it with my own perspective, as I'm sure everyone does. When I read, I come from a place that just naturally allows me to know that there have been censors placed over strategic portions of the event. We ALL argue. Kids fight, grown-ups fight too. We burn dinner and forget to buy toilet paper. It's just part of life. There really IS no need for adding all of those things to a writing that will be used in the future to remember the good times.

The truth is, who WANTS to remember the tiffs and twists that we go through daily? I think that the good outweighs the bad in this case, so showcase it!

Don't feel bad about editing your work to suit you. As long as you are not embellishing the happy times beyond recognition, who cares? If you want to post about your fights, do it...but don't hold back! It IS important for the world to see strong, happy, gay family role models. Just because you have arguments does not mean that you are not a happy family! Your family happens to have a very interesting family structure (to me, at least) that is definitely worth showing off!

11:05 AM  
Anonymous donald said...

as i see it, you don't need to try too hard to be what you think people think you should be, you are doing just fine being who you are!! my straight friends with young kids go through the same things you guys do, everyday! and, they are just fine too.

9:15 AM  

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