I didn’t see it coming… I was blind-sided… by myself. I had every intention when I got up this morning of spending the morning lounging in my pajamas, drinking coffee and Baileys and then sewing. My husband and I had a few errands to run in town. As I was walking through JoAnn Fabrics, I became light headed. I tried to push through, but by the time I climbed into the passenger side of my husband’s truck, I was done. Spent. The weeks prior had finally caught up with me. He ran in to Home Depot and I started falling asleep in the truck. When we arrived back home I grabbed my bag from the backseat, went inside, climbed onto the couch and under my weighted blanket along with the quilt my Mom made for me in college, and welcomed my cats Max and Cali on my lap. I had every intention of taking a nap, but when I turned on the TV, one of my favorite movies was on Spike. It was “The Blind Side”. As the movie progressed and I began to fade into sleep, a line in the movie caught my attention and I could not shake it.
“Look, here’s the deal, I don’t need y’all to approve my choices alright, but I do ask that you respect them.”
And there it was. I was blind-sided in my own living room, by Sandra Bullock.
The movie progressed and eventually ended. Immediately following, another movie began. There I was in my living room, completely drawn into Pretty Woman.
I was completely relaxed for the first time in who knows how long. My shoulders back down where they belong instead of up by my ears. As I was watching Julia Roberts, there were so many thoughts running through my mind.
Thoughts about me.
I was tired of being tired.
Weary of stumbling through other people’s wilderness.
I couldn’t help but wonder what others would think if they knew I was watching Pretty Woman.
And that’s when it hit me.
I was tired of ignoring my wilderness out of some weird attempt to respect the wilderness that others reside in. I’m not talking about getting lost in the woods or going off the grid. I’m talking about what Brené Brown describes in her book “Braving the Wilderness” (If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a good read). In it she explains that either way of life is uncomfortable. You either feel uncomfortable in other people’s wilderness (their truth, belief, story), or you feel uncomfortable braving the wilderness of your own, where your truth, belief, story, may differ from the majority.
And that’s how I’ve felt lately. Ever since I decided to share the raw emotion attached to the inconsistencies and obstacles within the field I work. Ever since I decided to speak up and stand up for change in a very public, very raw… very human manner. But for me, it really came to light after the election.
Ever since the election I’ve encountered people for whom I have a great deal of respect, but they seem to assume that I am devastated by the fact that America did not elect Hillary. That because I am a woman, who owns a small business, I should be devastated.
But the truth is, this election runs deeper than that. It wasn’t about who was the better candidate. It was about departing from the status quo. It was about the hope that I, as a female small business owner, would be able to provide health insurance for my employees, who happen to be all female.
Ever since the election I’ve been trying to avoid the fallen trees in the wilderness of other people. Because it’s no longer okay for me to have an opinion that offends others, even if that was not my intent. It’s no longer okay to vote Republican because that means that I must clearly support misogynistic behavior. It’s no longer okay to watch Pretty Woman, because I’m a woman and I can open my own freaking door. It’s no longer okay to want to wear a little black dress with red lipstick, because that means I believe women are sex objects for men.
Only I don’t support misogynistic behavior. I don’t believe feminism means I can’t let my husband open the door for me. And I don’t believe that wearing a little black dress means that I am a sex object for men.
As Brené Brown writes in her book. America has gone too far. It’s all or nothing. Often, people have the “you’re either for or against us” mentality.
But that’s an unfair mentality; just as assumptions can be unfair. And the only way to break through assumptions is by speaking our truth. By walking in our own story.
And my story is that I voted Republican because it wasn’t about voting along party lines, it was about voting for something different than the status quo. It was about hope that could positively impact those whom I employ.
My decision to watch Pretty Woman wasn’t a statement of support towards the objectification of women. I just really liked her red dress.
I want someone to hold the door for me because to me holding a door shows strength not weakness. And I enjoy wearing a little black cocktail dress with bright red lipstick because it makes me feel sexy.
So why is that any different than my choice to walk into a School Board meeting with navy blue chucks, dress pants, a denim jacket and bright lipstick? – Viewed by some as disrespectful for not following the social norms of appropriate attire for such a meeting.
It can’t be all or nothing. We have to work to end the “your either in or out” mentality.
Because if you’re friends with me, you’re friends with someone who voted Republican and who just spent the afternoon watching Pretty Woman.
I know some of you reading this may feel differently or may not agree with me.
But it’s okay. I still consider you a friend.
If you feel like you’ve just been blind-sided while reading this, I hope we can still be friends.
But here’s the deal. I don’t need you to approve my choices, but I do ask that you respect them.