That’s the conversation I saw two of my friends having on Facebook a year or so ago. It wasn’t out of context. They meant what they said. The statements were as clear as day, definitive, and I saw them appear right before my eyes coming from two women I respected and still do to this day.
At that moment, I had a mini heart attack. I thought, well I’m one, albeit a super moderate one, and we’re friends. Maybe they don’t know my politics and if they find out they won’t want to be friends with me anymore. I’ll be unfriended. As they say in those submarine movies, DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!
I’ve never had the easiest time making friends. When I was a kid we moved all the time, from Louisiana in 6th grade to Michigan in 7th, to Florida in 8th, and Illinois in 9th … we moved enough that I always felt like a stranger. I had to start over again and again introducing myself to fully formed groups of kids who weren’t necessarily looking for new additions to their club. And why would I do the hard work needed to convince them otherwise when I’d likely be leaving as soon as I wormed my way in?
This is why my friends are so important to me now, and why I cherish the friendships I’ve made through social media. It’s novel and wonderful to have people know you and like you, as strange as that may sound. And yet there I was, looking at two people I liked and wanted to be friends with, was friends with, and they were saying they wouldn’t accept someone like me. So I dove. I dove deep.
It was easy enough to stay out of political discussions anyway, because I write a blog over here that is for ALL women. I don’t care what religion they are or if they’re atheists, what party they vote for, what sexual preference they have, I don’t care about any of it. I want to ensure that every single woman knows they are safe and loved at Postpartum Progress, and so I tried to stay out of discussions that might negatively influence that in some way.
This week though, I couldn’t hide that part of me anymore. I had to speak out about an issue I care about, and so after nine years of keeping my political beliefs to myself I spoke out publicly. I was so terrified. I imagined being unfollowed in droves. I had visions of friends talking offline about how shocked they were that I could be a cruel and evil conservative. I might have well been announcing I was Hitler’s grandchild. Since I was sure my friendships had probably been sort of touch and go anyway, this would be the nail in the coffin. People had never been convinced, they were just being nice, but now that the truth was laid bare, they’d be certain — Katherine is out. Out of the club.
The entire day I was on tenterhooks, and I don’t even know what tenterhooks are. That night, I spoke to my husband on the phone about how difficult it was to raise my hand and say, “Hey, this is part of me too.” I’ve spent so many years keeping that part down, because in my neck of the online woods it’s not popular to be who I am. My husband responded to my anxiety with three simple words: “You are enough.”
I have to wonder how I can have lived 43 years and never heard that said, even though I’ve heard it a million times, in a way that touched me in my core and made me hear it. It wasn’t until that moment that I recognized how much I keep quiet those parts of me that I’m convinced people won’t accept, and that the reason I’ve done that is because I’ve never believed I’m enough. His words hurt, to the extent that I could see how long I’ve believed that being all of me, not just 86%, is not okay. How sad that I have such little confidence in myself. And yet, at that moment I also felt like I was coming up for air for the first time. Wait a minute, you’re right! Duh. I’m enough. What the heck have I been doing all this time?
I am the problem, and I am the solution. I have surfaced and I feel free.
Photo credit: © J.J.Brown – Fotolia.com