I kind of thought I had gotten over my blankey.
Jeremy has a long-standing tradition of sneaking my beloved blanket into suitcases when I go on trips. Perhaps because I credit that blanket as a catalyst for our love story (this is a link by the way, it just doesn’t look like it), but he seems fond of the thing—or at least fond of the calming effect it has on me.
But recently, I caught him packing it for a trip to Chicago, and I told him, “Let’s leave it here. I don’t want to stress about forgetting it in the hotel bed.”
I don’t love the blanket less because it looks like this now a days.
It’s just that the blanket’s constancy and thereness that I once cherished so deeply has been supplemented by the thereness and constancy of Hufflepuff, of Maeby, of Hudson, and by Jeremy. Admittedly, these people (yes, my pets are people) are softer than my tangled friend.
I’m having an emotional week, which is both understatement and code for PMS. This is evidenced by the fact, that upon reflecting on Jeremy’s 8 years of Blankey-Smuggling, I flew into the bedroom, woke him up, and started crying about how sweet it is that he sneaks my blanket into my suitcase.
Last night I had someone who I considered close come at me pretty hard—explaining, sensibly but harshly that I am “part of the problem.”
In an exchange that lasted several paragraphs, they used the word Neo-Liberal—which carries, at best, undertones of pink-hatted wine moms. This person insinuated, well, no they directly stated, that the diplomacy I exercise in my online communications supports fascists, and dictators, and genocide. They used all the best jargon.
It’s unfortunate for me that they touched on one of my biggest insecurities—that because of how I was raised and born and think and feel, I will never had the conviction to be _________ enough.
What that blank is, you name it. Spiritual enough, progressive enough. Smart enough. Caring enough. Good enough. Important enough.
I’m not a proud middle-woman, nor a closeted one—I’m just an agonized one (sorry, yes, agonized is such a charged word). But without giving this person, who I do feel was a tad cruel in their misalignment of my character, a victory, I can’t help but wonder if the fear I’ve always harbored, if this “I’m listening to you—you are valid approach” that I’ve adopted as a teacher, student, mother, friend, person IS part of the problem.
This isn’t new subject matter for the blog, it’s just a variation on a theme. And I defensively cling to the evidence to the contrary that my approach has been helpful for some.
But damn, there’s something vulnerable about a worldview—one that you thought was already well and shattered—breaking down a little bit further. Maybe being emotionally validating is actually being emotionally enabling? Maybe civil discourse IS dead. Maybe words in the Facebook era don’t mean as much as much as words on a page used to. Maybe we are all just a bunch of “idiots, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” And if that’s true, the one constant theme I’ve never wavered on—that words give us the power to understand and empathize with each other—maybe that foundation is crumbling too.
I think the largest undertone in this person’s rebuke was that it didn’t matter that my feelings were hurt by the exchange, because I am not marginalized. It’s so strange to have hurt feelings and to conceptualize them at the same time. I could definitely be accused of neoliberalism if I prioritized my feelings uber alles. Over growth. Over progress. That’s actually completely fair. So conceptually, what do I do with these feelings? What does this do to our relationship?
I woke up this morning with a vulnerability hangover so large that I just kind of moped and flopped around for an hour until I spotted that crumpled, minuscule tangle of fabric that used to be a blanket. It looked a little bit like I feel — pretty knotted up, a little sparse, and white. Maybe it’s no longer colorful enough, or soft enough, and it’s certainly not making a difference.
But it still matters.