Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making Amends (I hope) or a Public Apology

I am a proud, arrogant, stubborn person. Especially when I feel threatened. Last night, I went into a rampage on Twitter against my ex-husband and his new wife who were behaving in a way that I felt threatened my relationship with my kids. I called the two of them juvenile, stupid and weak. I roared about getting a lawyer if they thought they could just step in and tell me that I no longer had say over my children's lives. I went on a particularly vicious rampage against the new wife, who frankly has been engaging in some power play with my kids. I refuse to apologize for all the terrible things I said about her except for one. I called her short and fat. And for that, I am deeply sorry. I'm not even so much deeply sorry about how it might affect her feelings should she ever see it. I've tried to maintain compassion for her through these little power battles but since she continues to refuse to talk to me (she's never once talked to me. It's not like I've done or said something up to this point that has made her mad. She just won't talk to me), I've decided to quit seeing her point of view and build her into whatever kind of monster my imagination desires. Suck it, chica.

The reason I'm so sorry for that comment is because it was so entirely uncalled for. I had this brought home to me when one of my dear friends sent me a tweet telling me that as a short and fat person, she was no longer following me on Twitter. I realized at that moment that I've internalized the privilege that comes with being thin. I've internalized the messages that tell me that as a tall, thin person, I'm automatically better than someone with a different body type. For me, my comment about that woman's height and weight are equivalent to racist, sexist or religionist (?) comments about someone's skin color, gender or faith. I recently read this post on The Exponent blog and found myself whining about how hard it was to be thin. After my friend's comment to me last night on Twitter, I find that my whining about my body type makes me no better than the white, Christian male who whines about how discriminated against he is.

And the thing is, I should know better. In theory, I have no use for the current beauty culture and the way it idealizes only one body type. I cheer quietly to myself when I see plus-size or just different sized models in feminist magazines. I was at a friend's house just a few weeks ago getting angry at my friends for putting down fat people and refusing to date them. And then I go off and say something to the effect of someone being inferior to me based on appearance alone. My father is six three and weighs around 170 lbs. My mother was almost my height and was thinner than me for the majority of her life. I came into my body type entirely by chance. I have no right to lord it over others.

This particular friend that I've offended has done countless good to me. She's had me in her home, fed me, given me rides when my car broke down, taken me out of town for fun trips and simply been someone I could rail with on all my little soapbox subjects. And yet I managed to betray her entirely. And not just her, but others of my friends who aren't tall and thin like me but have been just as kind and giving. How did I dismiss their worthiness so off-handedly?

I have no excuse. All I can offer as an apology is that I gained some self-awareness from my friend's comment on Twitter. I won't do it again. This will be something I'll be thinking about for a good while. How do I eradicate the feelings of superiority I didn't even realize I had? How do I internalize the concepts that I argue for outwardly but obviously hadn't accepted inwardly? How do I ever make this up to this friend and any of my other friends who saw that comment and were also hurt by it?

Once again, I'm deeply sorry to any of my readers or friends who saw or were told about my behavior. I love all of you so much. You've all been so kind to me with no expectation of return. I'm going to work to change my views on these things. Allow me now to beg for your forgiveness.

10 comments:

G said...

lessie~ this resonates with me because, I have done very similar things: said things without realizing how hurtful they are and how much they reveal about my underlying prejudices and biases.

and yes, I've been called out on it before. Not fun, but always educational, and I always appreciate the heightened awareness (well... after the sting and humiliation of realizing what an ass I am go away.)

I hope you and your friend are able to make amends. It is no fun to be in this situation.

darlene said...

Lessie. You are one class act. I have been so blessed to have you as a friend.

Please forgive my impulsive tweet, and please accept that you continue to have the deep admiration of both myself and my husband. Your response to this entire situation has been phenomenally self-aware and is a great example of the reaction that a gentle, kind, loving and giving soul would have.

I understand and have lived through that same kind of anger. I even understand the bias, and I have many of my own that I don't always work hard enough to overcome.

But if I'm faced with a similar situation one day, I hope that I am able to own up to my transgression and learn from it, and then make amends in terms as wonderfully prosaic as you have used here.

Thanks for your post, thanks for being such a genuine and honest person.

Lessie said...

Darlene, thank you so much for accepting my apology. I'm not too proud to admit that I cried when I read your comment on this post. I'm so relieved. I have nothing to forgive; you weren't the one who acted wrongly. I've been worrying all day about offending you. I love you so much, and I really am going to try hard not to be so obtuse in the future.

Anonymous said...

I just happened to stumble onto your blog and I dont know the whole story behind this or the new wife. But I think you a strong enough person to apologize to someone that you have such a hard time with. Before I moved from Rexburg to Utah I knew you, and to be honest this is the exact reason I never wanted to know you any more!!! You are very imature and selfish, if someone does not agree or see eye to eye with you, you throw a tantrum and put them down in someway to make you feel justified in your leunitic thoughts and actions. I have met the "new wife" and honestly think that she is twice the woman you are or will ever be! And 100 times fold a better mom than you have ever been to the kids! The best thing for the boys was you leaving. So my advice is back off and let the boys have some guidence, and stability in their life! And if it doesnt fall in line with your life and thoughts, dont throw a tantrum and just remember, YOU are the one who left, YOU are the one who moved away!!

Lessie said...

Anonymous, your comment hardly warrants a response. That said, you're entitled to your opinion of me. I blog publicly. I understand that invites criticism.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, though. My parenting practices are by no means orthodox. But I *adore* my two boys. They are the world to me. You can question anything I say or do here (including my parenting methods). If you question that, however, you're more ignorant than even your rampant spelling errors suggest.

Anonymous said...

I know I am not educated and as smart as you. But I really do feel that you do not care at all for your boys. All you care for is yourself and how you can better yourself. I really feel that their lives would be much more fulfilling and successful if you left them alone. Just quit confusing them by pretending to care about them. Do you really know that the morman church is true, that is why you cant drop it and always have to bash on it. So you can fill the void that you have created for yourself? Just wondering?

Lessie said...

So that's what all this boils down to you for you, anonymous? I left the church (which, btw, this post wasn't even about Mormonism)?

If you're actually interested in an honest discussion of why people like me leave the church, here's a blog post that articulates relatively well my reasons for leaving.

Getting a divorce and going to law school does not mean I don't love my children. I'm not pretending to care for them. I do care for them. However, I acknowledge that since your opinion of me is already formed, you'll probably never believe that.

Lastly, I'm far more tolerant of rabid, biting commenters who have the guts to leave their names. If you are interested in a conversation in which we try to understand each other, start using your name when you comment. Otherwise, I'll continue to publish whatever insults and assumptions you want to say, but I'll quit honoring them with a response.

Moly B Denum said...

anonymous,

opinions like the one you have of lessie are the kind that are shared in person.

I find it very cowardly of you to tell someone that you think they're a bad mother (among the worst insults you could hurl at a human being) among others.

I suppose I might be a little more lenient of your trollish (and cowardly) behavior if you hadn't invoked the truthfulness of the LDS Church.

Be the kind of person you pretend to be, and express your opinions face to face. After all that's what people with Integrity (on of the virtues in the Young Women's program, remember?)do.

Anonymous said...

Lessie, I do owe you an apology. It is probably obvious that we dont share the same beliefs ideas about things in life. But thinking more and more about it, that is not a reason to slander you. I am sorry for saying things about you being a mother and your boys. I am probably not a good father at all but I do things differently than you but does not mean that you are bad or wrong. I was in church today and abviously about the chrismas message and something was said about judging people in different circumstances than myself, and how if we judge then we are no better than satan himself. I did judge you harshly for being different in beliefs, and actions than I. I do have two request of you though, it is up to you though if you want to do it or not. I do enjoy a lot of your blog post and do read them. Please continue to post on your blog and I will read, but please do not stereotype all mormons together. That mormon moms dont have any goals and ambitions, and that all mormons are pyscho, and please do not attack the leaders about their stance on gay issue. We know you dont agree but please do not attack and slander. It is one thing to voice opinions about beliefs and disagreements, but please do dont slander and call names. I really do apologize and hope that you condtinue to post your interesting thoughts that always bring good comments and require a lot of deep thought. I hope you accept that I am sorry and you do not have to publish this I am personally saying sorry to you. Thanks, I hope to see another good post soon. And I hope you and (whatever family you are spending christmas with) have a wonderful andmerry christmas!!

Moly B Denum said...

Nicely done, Anonymous.

I appreciate your kind gesture and apology to Lessie.

(Lessie, I'm starting to sound like a mother. Note to self: Must.mind.my.own.business.)