Today is Earth Day. Apparently the day has been a topic of conversation for my daughters at school this week. This morning in the bathroom, my younger chided her older sister for leaving the water running too long saying "you are not being a good Earth Day person!" So we had a little chat about leading by example rather than criticism and as my husband kissed me before he walked out the door, he whispered that he blamed me for their liberal agenda.
He was teasing me, mostly. But my slide to the left in all things social, political and religious has provided more than one tense moment in our relationship. We've finally reached a balance point and don't seem to be on the verge of tipping into chaos quite so often, but it has not been easy.
I am many things. I am a feminist in a patriarchal world. I am a democratic in the most republican county in the United states. I support a woman's right to control her own body while surrounded by people who picket Planned Parenthood. I think there is more than one way to God in a community that preaches hellfire and damnation for non-believers. I am drawn to Jungian theory in a evidence-based medical model world. I support GLBT rights and marriage while the AG of my state refuses to grant a gay couple a legal divorce and in a city where churches are called on the carpet by their denominational boards for being inclusive. I am inclusive in an extended family where jokes about the President's race and calling for his demise are applauded as funny. I think helping others holds value, even if it means sacrificing some of my own wealth and privilege. I think real sex education and open communication beats "True Love Waits" pants down! The list goes on and on.
And I'm constantly afraid. Afraid of offending someone with my beliefs. Afraid of losing relationship because my friends cannot understand. Afraid of emotional abandonment by the people I love. I rarely feel like I fit in anywhere. And when I speak up and speak out, and meet resistance, disagreement, hostility and fear from others, it hurts. It makes me want to hide, to run away, to be silent and good and agreeable so that I won't have to experience the pain of rejection.
But I'm finding more and more I CANNOT be silent. I MUST speak up. I must stand up for those who do not and cannot have a voice. I have to live my life true to who I really am, not who others think I am or want me to be.
If that means my husband chides me for being a liberal - so be it. If that means my mother refuses to come to my daughter's weddings because of her prejudice (a threat she made recently) - so be it. If that means I am constantly at odds with my community of faith - that's just the way it is. But here is the rub.... all of this stuff doesn't just affect me - it affects my husband, and my children. And that pill is hard to swallow. I have to be who I am. But I don't want them to have to pay for that by loss of their friends and their communities. And I'm always afraid they will have to pay. And that too works to keep me silent - or at least very muted. I don't have a good answer to that tension of the opposites just yet. I'm not sure I ever will.
So I feel like I am living on the margins. Out on the edge, but not quite able to break free - and not always convinced I want to, but compelled to keep moving just the same, even if it puts me in danger of falling off the cliff.