My blog is called weaving reality, because it is about the things I put my determination and energy into making. Up until now it has mostly been about tangible holdable, viewable things. Like pictures of my garden and the food I cook from it, directions on how to make a rainbow skirt, or my musing on writing, publishing and marketing my work.
But things you can hold are not the only things I make. I have a vision of the world I want to live in, and I do things all the time to make that world happen. I can’t change it alone of course, but I can make a little change here and another one there and weave in little threads of my reality into yours and everyone else’s.
Part of the way I can do this is to talk about what I want to change and how. I can talk about the sort of social system I would like to live in, the sort of government that would make me happy. I can tell you when I see injustice and how best to combat it. I can talk about fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, fat-hate, poverty, and meanness.
I don’t want to do it in a “this things sucks” sort of way and leave it at that. I want to tell you how I deal with a situation and try to make my world a little better.
Today I want to talk about something I am calling “the tragedy game” or the “my life sucks game”. This is where one person says something bad that happened or is happening to them and then you have to one-up it, then someone else has to one-up you, and so on. This game works on the principle that in our society it is OK to talk about things that are bad in our lives. It is OK to reach out and try to get support and sympathy. And it is. I 100% agree that if you are having a problem or you need help, you should reach out to a friend or family member. As humans we are social creatures; we form tribes and we help each other. But this game sometimes goes too far, because we all want attention. If one person is always getting attention by being hurt, sad or broken, then I think we tend to rummage around until we can throw something into the pot.
For example, I had a rough childhood. But I have dealt with the bad things that have happened really well. I don’t often think about it; I talk about it even less. It is depressing, it is in the past, and I am mostly healed emotional and physically. Talking about it has no profit for me. Until we start playing “the tragedy game”. I have found myself in groups of people I hardly know telling them very personal things, just because “my horrible abusive childhood” somehow became the topic of the game. By the same token, I have found myself telling people about my illnesses or emotional problems, just because that is what we were doing. This is especially bad when the person who starts the game does so with something that is way less horrible than something that has happened to me or is happening.
And that is the problem with this game. The very first rule is that we have to rank other people’s suffering. For example, I once had a woman tell me this story about why she does not wear shorts. Once when she was young, her father hit her with a belt so hard on the back of her legs that it left huge red marks for a few days. To me, to the person I was then (about 10 years ago) this seemed so little. Compared to some of the things that have happened to me, her experience was cotton candy. But now I get it. I get what she was saying. She was trying to tell me about the lack of control she felt, about the humiliation, about how someone else took her body and hurt it and marked it. She was telling me that even years later as an adult, in some way her legs still did not belong to her. So I said, “well, you think that is bad? Once my mom….” or whatever I said I don’t remember now. But I one-upped. I tried to get social points by having been abused.
People play this game with all sorts of things. Mental illness, physical illness, discrimination, lack of money, bad relationships, abuse, etc.
I don’t want to play this game anymore. I want to be the sort of person, who when someone tells me something bad I want to just listen and be supportive. I will give them attention, and then when I can, change the subject to something more cheery. I don’t want to sit around talking about all the horrible things in a person’s life or mine, unless we are looking for solutions. I very much don’t want to listen to people tell me all the things they can’t do because of their problems. This does not make their lives better and it does not make me happy.
At the same time, while it is acceptable to talk about how hard something is, or how broken and substandard you are, it is not OK to brag. Sitting around talking about how great your life is, how wonderful you are, how hard you work to get great things in your life, or just how naturally amazing you are is not OK. We are supposed to be modest.
Fuck that! I don’t want to be modest. I am fabulous. I don’t want to talk about the bad things that have held me down. I want to talk about how I kicked those bad things’ asses and climbed over them to reach my goals. I want to talk about how my experiences have made me strong, smart, or creative. I want to talk about all the great things I am going to do. I have problems, sure, but I can work through or around all of them to do what I want. And that is what I want to talk about. I want to brag, and I want you to brag. I want you to tell me something amazing about you.
My first brag in this round – I am so confident. My life experiences have led me to be the sort of person who thinks she can do anything she sets her mind to. I often think things I do are great and I love showing them to people.
Please, one up me! Tell me something amazing about you. Tell me why you are worth knowing and worth having my attention. Tell me how you have overcome something or your plans for overcoming something now.