Active Ally

Several months ago I joined my local PFLAG chapter. It was important to me to join because of the people in my life that I love. My friends and family fall all over the orientation and gender identity spectrum. We engage in various conversations about their experiences, and I have provided what support I can listening, learning, and acting as an advocate for them with other groups I am a part of (such as talking with co-workers, or my writers’ groups).

When my friends became members of PFLAG I had an opportunity to learn more about the organization and what it stood for. The nation’s largest family and ally organization*, PFLAG seemed like a good place for me, with its opportunity to learn more from others, and to help with outreach and support the organization provides.

This weekend I joined other PFLAG members in representing the organization in Gainesville’s annual Pride Parade that headed down a stretch University Avenue, near Main Street. The first part of the route there were a few people on the side of the street waving, and cheering each group by name, but as we got closer to Main Street and the Pride Festival that was happening downtown, the crowd grew. Rainbow-clad and happy, a mix of adults, youth, children and dogs, the crowd’s energy feed those who were walking the parade, and we reciprocated by waving rainbow flags and offering up “PFLAG loves you.”

It was a bit of surreal experience, given the prominent street we were just strolling down mid-day. The east-bound traffic had been stopped for the parade, but the two west-bound lanes still operational. We did get a few honks, which was nice. That and the energy from the ever increasing crowd made me forget how hot the day was, and filled me with the apt emotion – pride for being part of such a loving and supporting community, and gratitude that my local friends and family are able to experience a grand outpouring of that love on a fine fall weekend.

Kate, Allyson, Anne and I prepare for the Pride Parade

Kate, Allyson, Anne and I prepare for the Pride Parade; Photograph by Allyson Haskell

*as noted on the PFLAG National website

Journal Entry: path of least resistance

I feel off balance, like I need to recenter. And it’s not that I don’t have the tools to do it, but that I am resisting employing them. And I am not satisfied with where I am, but I am comfortable with this particular dissatisfaction, because it is what is familiar. It is what comes of following the path of least resistance.

I am refusing to challenge myself because accepting the challenge could bring failure, and I already am disappointed enough with myself.

Accepting the challenge could also mean success, and that, at some level, means a change of who I am at the core. And what if I don’t like that person as much? What if my friends and family don’t like that person as much? What if my changing, even the slightest shift, somehow makes it harder to get along with the people I care about? I worry about alienating them with, what, my desire for self-improvement? A lack of time to spend with them (despite already having to work hard to make sure I am socializing enough – keeping my relationships going as I try to keep the depression at bay)? And I feel, at times, that the depression is just an excuse to let me pick the lazy path and to tell myself that I don’t have a choice, not really. The depression becomes a convenient excuse to not try to do the things I think will help me to improve myself. That I think will help me deal with the depression.

So is this convolved feeling just the depression trying to protect itself? And if I personify or anthropomorphize my depression, is that going to make my fight against it harder, or easier? Something to consider.

I want to simplify, but I don’t know where to begin, because I am attached to the clutter I keep around me – the physical, the electronic, and the emotional. It is familiar, it is insular. Its the wall that I put up between me and, what, the world? Between me and getting to really look deep and know myself? Both?

Simultaneously I want to and fear examining the things and asking “why is this important for me to keep?” so I can learn to let go of the unnecessary.

Journal entry: Writing advice to myself

Entry from my journal May 16, 2015

Just thinking of all the writing classes I’ve taken in the past few years – and then looking at my actual writing output for the same time. Maybe my focus is skewed.

Or am I so afraid I won’t live up to the classes I took,  that I will somehow be more of a disappointment if when I fail because I “should” be better than that?

What would I tell someone else who felt that way?

Classes give you tools. Not all the tools work the same for everyone. Find the ones that work for you and use them.

And people constantly grow and change, so your writing will change because you have changed. But you won’t be able to recognize the change in your work, necessarily, because you will have changed and how you see and interact with writing is not the same as it was before you took the classes.

And when you submit realize everyone comes to your work with a different eye, different experience. You are trying to find the one that your story creates resonance for. It won’t be everyone, but don’t be discouraged. Someone out there will feel, not the same as you do about the story, that’s impossible, but will feel something, and they will want to share it with others, the same way you want to. Just remember you don’t know which person that will be, so you have to keep sharing it.

The world is a big place, billions of people, so even the small slice of people that publish stories is also a big group, full of lots of different people with different experiences. Just keep trying.