Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Years

Five years ago I put up my first post here. 

Slightly intimidated by the idea of blogging  (how to do it and what is a widget and how do I make a picture go here ), I was helped by my friend Allison.  After she got it begun, I could just write something, and hit publish.  Once I had that part in place, it became easy to learn about this newfangled technology and I think I know what a widget is, in layman terms. 

Back then, Miss C was 3 years old, I thought this would last for 90 days, and I did not consider myself a feminist. 

I considered myself a mother who was honored and daunted by this gift of raising a girl, and wanted to understand the world she was experiencing, and like all parents, I wanted to fix stuff and change stuff and like all parents, I got humbled and schooled many times in that department. 

But, oh the growth!

Prior to becoming a mother, prior to having a daughter, I was someone who had spent much of my life as.....what is the word that means the opposite of feminist?  Is there a word?  That was me.

In my youth and teen days, I quoted Rush Limbaugh and was often on the lookout for feminazis.  In high school I walked out of a religion class because my teacher,  a Catholic feminist, began talking about birth control in answer to a students question.  I was like I don't know what the anti-Christ looks like but it might be her and I am outta here

Though I stopped quoting Rush at some point, many of my ideas were still of the mindset that:
men know more.   

Given any hypothetical situation, I'd end up with that as the unspoken but certain proof. 

I never would have said that because I doubt I knew it was a core belief.  I understood it as a fact, and there is no need to examine or question a fact.  It just is. 

I found in my work as a therapist that sometimes, when a client was undergoing some major metamorphosis, the unearthing, illuminating, and releasing of limiting beliefs had to come nearly from the source---or a symbol of the source---from which they sprang.  This was not "always" by any means, as sometimes we make a huge, cataclysmic shift, reject something entirely, and shed a belief in a fast and furious way.  But many times, we take small steps of change because it is less frightening this way. 

There were two early shifts, which pointed me to unearth this limiting idea. It took 18 years to acquire and live from this notion and the following 18 to dig it out and set it down.

*I chose a Catholic college and as a requirement, had to take a theology class.  It was taught by a good looking seminarian, 7 years into his study toward the priesthood.  He was nicknamed
Fr. Whatawaste.  As in, whatawaste that man will be celibate and not adding his genes to the pool of humanity.  He spoke quietly, was kind, and clearly loved the subject he was teaching.  He was in love with the Vast Love.  Here is where my world began to rock a little bit: as he taught, he asked questions, and encouraged us to ask questions.  About the existence of God, and anything at all.  Because he was not a feminazi, I didn't walk out of the class.  And because this was coming from a priest, I sat with my discomfort, knowing that the apocalypse could be arriving any minute now.

*In my four years of  college,  I majored in psychology and English, and twice, seriously contemplated becoming a nun.  By the time I graduated, I had concluded, somewhat like Maria Von Trapp, that I'd make a very terrible nun.  I went to work at a Jesuit school and lived in intentional community with other teachers.  The Jesuits, as an order, love the Vast Why.  Every Jesuit I encountered had at least three graduate degrees, or dual doctorates, or was currently pursing some study of something or other just because.  On my third day of working at this school, I attended Mass.  There were a whopping four of us there, including the priest.  He surveyed the scene, and said, "It's so beautiful outside.  Let's have Mass out there."  I thought there is no way this is legal.  But I followed along slowly, trying to gauge if the anti-Christ could be a Jesuit.   I calmed down in the sun and sat with the two nuns, the Jesuit, and we had Mass on the sidewalk.  And then when the priest finished a brief homily, he turned to Sr. Juanita and said, "What do you think about today's reading, Sr. Juanita?"  I decided that yes, the anti-Christ could indeed be a priest.  But then I listened to Sr. Juanita and was drawn into her deep reflection, her incredible wisdom, and I entirely forgot that she shouldn't be talking.  Then, the other nun gave her thoughts, and when I was asked for my thoughts, I was like, no way I'm participating in heresy.  Pass
Every time this priest said Mass, he spoke a few words, and then said, "I invite any here to share their own reflections on today's readings."  It took me awhile, but soon the discomfort changed into an eagerness to share.  I forgot to remember that I shouldn't be speaking. 

After those two things, other experiences continued to jolt me and expand me.  My world got bigger bit by bit, until I had shifted enough to feel this split that happens when you have internalized an entirely different set of beliefs, but have not fully integrated these things into your actual world.  It's a painful place because you can't go back, but going forward often feels...impossible.  During this point, my good friend listened as I verbally tread water about this split.  Her reply: "You're in the closet about your beliefs.  And that is a very painful place to be." 

One thing made it easier, almost effortlessly, to take another step.  I had a daughter, and she had no idea she was not supposed to ask questions, or speak about certain things.  And her questions have not ceased since she acquired language.  Sitting on my lap in church several years ago, I daydreamed out the window and she listened intently.  Then she put her hands on my cheeks to pull my face toward hers, and said, "Mama, is this fiction?  Or nonfiction?"    That question comes from her in many forms, about everything.  Once she figured out the difference between opinion and fact, she spent several months filtering everything through this newly understood concept.  From the dinner on the table to the stars in the sky.  Everything I said to her was sent to either opinion or fact, immediately.  Sometimes I could see the words leaving my lips and her sorting them as they moved toward her, categorizing them as needed. 

Me: "Time to brush your teeth."

Her: "That's an opinion."

Me: "That's a fact."

Her: "No, it's an opinion because I don't think it's time to brush my teeth."

Me: "I disagree with your opinion and am restating the fact that it's time to brush your teeth."

Her: "It will be a fact when I do it, but right now it's an opinion."  Pause.  "But I'll do anyway."

These exchanges were actually not done in sass.  She was really filtering, entirely everything, through this new lens.  Nothing was left out of the system.

A fellow therapist once said that we permit questions and explorations from children that we don't permit within ourselves because we assume their innocence, and somehow distrust our own innocence. 

I like this view.  We forget the innocence of our own curiosities.

I'm not in the closet about my beliefs anymore.  I have shifted my faith community, I'm not afraid of the word feminism, and finally, I've figured out that I believed something (men know more) and found how untrue that is.  I began to see how limiting this idea is, not only to women, but to men as well. 

Feminism, now that I am not running from it, is not hateful toward anyone.  It is immensely loving, toward men, and toward women.  It will have a name until the world is changed enough that the name will evaporate because it won't be necessary to call it anything, it will just be.