8:57 a.m. - 2007-07-05
I didn't realize how much I took this space for granted until a few months ago.
And I'm not talking about all the friends I've made writing here, or about having a space to write, though both of those are definitely pleasant benefits. What I'm referring to is the relative anonymity I can hide behind here, the fact that very few people I know in real life know about this place.
In the beginning, I was much more secretive than I am now. I didn't use names, didn't discuss locations and tried hard to avoid providing any details about who I am or where I live. But over the years I got a lot more comfortable, and the use of initials and pseudonyms got old after awhile. So I started sharing the names of people in my family and became a bit more lax about revealing details of where I live.
Then, maybe a year ago, I succumbed to the draw of Myspace. Spurred on by friends who had gotten in touch with people that they hadn't seen for years, I opened an account and started receiving friend requests. I listed my real name, because what was the point in trying hide it when I had my high school and college listed plainly along with a picture of myself?
And I utilized the blog feature, though I called myself keeping the entries from being anything too controversial. I also put a realistic description of myself and my views under the "About Me" section. I figured that the things I shared there were fairly evident if you know me in real life, and they definitely weren't anything to be ashamed of.
Apparently, I was wrong.
About 6 months after posting a blog entry that went into the barest amount of detail about my religions beliefs, I got a snarky email from my sister-in-law. I immediately went back and scanned the entry she was referring to, and sure enough, I'd mentioned an Easter church service that we'd attended with her family (at her home church, at the urging of her and my MIL) when my daughter was just a baby. The service had been...well, it was less than inspiring, and we'll leave it at that. To top matters off, Ali started crying toward the end, and instead of disturbing everyone further, we opted to leave and head to the family gathering that took place afterward.
I'd briefly mentioned that service in the entry, and the rest of what I wrote was about the struggle I feel in trying to do best by Ali in terms of religion. I've detailed my beliefs here many times, but I'll quickly explain again: I don't consider myself Christian, but my husband uses the term for himself, more because he's scared of what might "happen to him" than anything, I think. I want my daughter to be exposed to a variety of faiths growing up so that she can make an informed decision of her own when she's old enough. I dislike organized religion for a variety of different reasons, especially here in the South where thinly-veiled hate seems to be an underlying theme in the majority of sermons--including the one we witnessed that Easter. I'm still not 100% sure what I "am", but...
That sums my own feelings up pretty nicely, probably better than I'd have been able to do myself.
But apparently, that's not enough for my husband's side of the family. After I received the email from my SIL, I had a moment of panic. I immediately went back and deleted the entry that caused the stir, and then I spent two hours composing an email to her trying to explain myself. I still don't know why I felt such an intense need to justify my beliefs to her, but in the wee hours of the morning, things generally seem worse than they are.
I never received a response. Months went by, and I began to regret deleting what I'd written, because it was ridiculous for her to have gotten so upset over who I am. And yes, I was a little irritated that she hadn't replied to the heart-felt email that I'd spent hours writing and then going over it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that I didn't say anything inflammatory.
I wrote another blog entry that talked about this journal and how much I'd enjoyed it over the years. How much I missed having a place to record my thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement. About the wonderful people I'd met through writing here. And most importantly, I spoke about the fact that I am who I am, no matter how much I don't fit in where I live, regardless of the smirks and criticism I receive for believing the way I do about any number of things: race, religion, sexuality, politics.
It must have taken awhile for her to find it, but when she did, that entry really pissed her off. I'm still not sure why it infuriated her so, but it did, and she chose to make her dissatisfaction with me public. She posted a huge rant on the blog I'd written about how "tacky" I was, how she disapproved of everything I stood for, and how she was going to pray for me and my family.
I was pretty taken aback, because until this point, NO one had any idea there was tension between us. Previous correspondence had been through email, and nowhere in the entry I'd written had I mentioned her at all. I was upset that she'd drug our private conversation into public, and it bothered me that she'd called me names and insinuated that I was wrong and needed to be prayed for.
But since she'd opened the can of worms, I decided to respond the same way she had--in public. Once again, I took a long time to compose what I wanted to say, because I didn't want--epescially not now, since I was certain there were quite a few people reading--to come across as a bitch. She'd chosen to portray herself in a certain way, and damned if I was going to come across like that. So I told her that I was sorry if what I'd written, if who I AM, offended her. She made a big deal in her post about "I will never apologize," so I took the high road and apologized for *everything.* I said I was sorry for mentioning the church service in the first blog, sorry for upsetting her with this newest entry, sorry for the fact that this was being played out in public, blah blah blah. But I was NOT sorry for my beliefs, of course. And then I told her that I appreciated her prayers, I can always use more of those. Oh, and I asked why she'd never responded to the email.
Well, that apparently pacified her a bit, or else she realized what a jerk she'd come across as, and that I was the one in control of the edit/delete button. She made a point of telling me that *she* didn't judge me, that only GOD could judge me, that she didn't hate me (but again, she stressed that she disagreed with everything I stand for entirely), and I can't remember what all else. And then she DID apologize for flipping out, and said that she never received the long email I'd written after her first message. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.
And then it was pretty much over. I asked her if she minded me deleting the whole ugly mess so that it wasn't up there for everyone to see, and she was more than happy to agree to that.
It's been months, and we still haven't talked about it, though we've seen each other many times since then at family functions. There's definitely an bit of tension in the air, but I do my best to ignore it. I don't *want* to talk about it. I've said all I needed to, and she's made her feelings about me quite clear.
And now Ali's pulling at me, demanding my attention.
But all this is to say...I'm so, so glad to be back.