Femme Over Troubled Waters

My recent post about Resilience must have inadvertently hit a nerve, because I have received much feedback about it, some publicly, but mostly privately.  The great majority of the feedback I received was in agreement, with people having witnessed similar situations on social media getting blown out of all proportion. Many said they felt more comfortable having a private discussion because of this very phenomenon, rather than posting publicly, which is fine with me. In fact, I found myself replying with similar responses so often that I finally decided to go ahead and do a separate post.

(I always appreciate all thoughts on anything I write; if you want to contact me privately, you can always send me a Twitter direct message ~ @SayeBennett ~ or by email at sayebennett@gmail.com).

First, I would like to clarify that my Resilience post was not intended to be a comprehensive dissertation on the topic; like most topics, resilience cannot possibly be adequately covered in several books, and therefore it certainly cannot be comprehensively covered in single blog post.  Resilience, like almost everything in life, is not a cut-and-dried or one-size-fits-all topic.

My main point with the Resilience post was to put forth the concept that we don’t have to respond with feelings of self-doubt/insecurity/hopelessness/depression/anger/etc. to someone else’s opinions ~ or to their tone.

The choice of how to respond to any situation is always within our power.

Humans are not vending machines where if you put in some change and push a button, you’ll automatically get a bag of chips. Even when our buttons get pushed, we can learn to pause between the stimulus and the response long enough to choose how we want to respond.

As just a few examples, depending on the situation, we can choose to walk away and ignore what’s happening; or to stand our ground and argue our point; or to take a break and return to the situation later when we are feeling calmer; or to write our very own blog post about the topic to make sure our side is heard; or to do a collage or art project to deal with the feelings; or to journal about it; or to do some sort of self-care to calm ourselves (such as taking a walk, taking a bath, calling a friend, etc.).

Of course, I don’t mean to imply that it is ever simple to stop automatic reactions, or that it is easy to refrain from jumping into the fray in the heat of the moment.  I also don’t mean to imply that the reasons behind our initial responses are always simple or clear-cut.

But I have noticed that there are often some variations of Ellis’s irrational beliefs behind most knee-jerk overreactions. Finding out whether any of these beliefs are behind our feelings is a good first step to starting to find our own power.

Again, my main point is that ultimately, all of our responses are within our own control, which leads me to the second part of the feedback that I wanted to respond to:

An interesting, repetitive refrain of the feedback I received is the thought that my spouse, partner and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt, does indeed upset people with both the content and the tone of her writing…and therefore, some said they feel that it is inevitable to be upset by both her content and her tone.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Dirt is a lightning-rod of intense controversy. Dirt has a no-holds-barred style that leads to both copious cursing and death threats on a regular basis. She is direct and unapologetic in her communication, and she doesn’t back down, no matter what.  To say she is passionate about her cause would be a huge understatement; it would be like saying the entire vast universe is “kind of large“.

So, yes, I admit that Dirt does have a tendency to leave a plethora of pissed-off people in her wake. 


Dirt & Me ~ True Love!

Reading between the lines, I also think the implication of some feedback was that I, as her wife, should perhaps influence her to “tone it down“, both in the content of her work and in the tone of her communication…to be a sort of “Femme-over-troubled-waters” between Dirt and the rest of the world.

The idea seemed to be that I could, and should,  mediate her opinions and communication in order to water her message down to make it more palatable for polite consumption.

Well, that will never happen and I will tell you why: I fell in love with her for exactly the way she is.  I believe in her and in her cause. I am not some starry-eyed schoolgirl (although she does make me feel that way!); I am a middle-aged professional woman with a Ph.D. and lots of opinions of my own, and who shares a remarkably compatible degree of passion and stubbornness with Dirt.

I support (and agree with) Dirt and her cause completely, and she supports me and my passions completely.  I would never want her to change, much less ask her to.

Love, to me, is not falling for someone…and then hoping that she will change; it is loving her, completely and realistically, for exactly who she is.  In my opinion, the greatest gift we can give our partner is whole-hearted, complete acceptance and support.

To ask Dirt to change her writing or her tone would be asking her to weaken her message. What prompted the original altercation that I described in my original post on Resilience was the necessity of the accuracy of language.  Like a vampire, political correctness drains language of all meaning to the point of lifelessness.

Dirt and I communicate very differently, but if you pay attention, you will see that our message is the same.

Plus, I truly feel the same principles of self-responsibility for our reactions that I wrote about above and in my original Resilience post still apply, no matter how much Dirt’s writing pushes people’s buttons.

Finally, I learned that there are still apparently many misconceptions about Butch/Femme relationships ~ so very, very many that it will have to be a completely separate post ~ but I want to end this post with just a brief summary:

Butch/Femme relationships are not a mimicry of heterosexual dynamics.  Dirt and I are both females who love and respect each other as equals; and therefore, we don’t have a hierarchy of power, nor the need to communicate via manipulation like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

So if you have something to say to Dirt, please say it to Dirt.  She’s an adult and I promise she can handle it.

And if you have something to say to me, by all means, please reach out.

5 thoughts on “Femme Over Troubled Waters

  1. Another good blog from you. I enjoy your writing and tone 😉 , and thanks for sharing your thought-provoking/touching posts.

    Having said that I can’t fully agree with your point about choice. I think that in many situations this approach works. However I’m someone who struggles with depression and there are simply times when there is no choice. Something that someone has said or done will cut straight through me and I will simply react. I may sometimes manage to temporarily walk away, but only to ruminate and often make things worse. Now granted, this doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. With hindsight I can see how irrational, if that’s the right word, my behaviour is in those moments, but in those moments I’m just coping as best as I can. There are no options so I simply cannot choose. You touch on this in your post so we probably agree. For me it raises the question of our responsibilities when interacting online. I didn’t witness the exchange that started it all so I have no idea if what I’m saying applies to it. I just think it is important to remember that many people out there are struggling, and that we can choose to interact in a way that avoids escalation and hurt. In my opinion it’s too easy to sit back and say it’s their problem when a little compassion/empathy could make a world of difference. What should matter is *my* choice and I shouldn’t rely on other people’s choices, which may not actually exist, when engaging them is a discussion. If people can choose how they react, they certainly can choose how they act in the first place.

    And of course you shouldn’t try to change your wife 🙂 I look forward to your post on butch/femme relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, ApplePie ~ Thanks a lot for your comment! 🙂

      I agree that there are usually a BUNCH of factors at work when we get upset, and the reasons we get upset aren’t always simple or clear-cut. Depression does certainly color outlook and perception, and depression would make it extremely difficult at that moment to pull away for long enough to feel more objective about the situation. I would say in that case, later, when not in the throes of depression, it would probably be good to examine the reasons certain situations are particular triggers and deal with those underlying beliefs, to hopefully not be so upset the next time a similar situation occurs.

      For instance, I used to get VERY upset when I thought I heard a message from someone that I was “not good enough” (even though I now realize I was likely wrong in my interpretations!). After much examination of this pattern ~ when I was NOT in the heat of the moment ~ I realized that I had received variations of “not good enough” messages from my mother my whole life, so when I thought I heard that message, I would misunderstand and overreact. But I had to step away and analyze it when I was not upset in order to truly understand it and change that pattern.

      You also make great points about how we (meaning everybody) always make choices in both how to act AND how to react when online (and in the “real world” too, of course); and about how we never know what the person we are interacting with is going through at the time that is affecting his/her reactions. For instance, if we knew that the person we are interacting with just had a beloved pet die an hour before, we would (hopefully) be very patient and kind, realizing that the person is not in a good place. Well, of course, we usually will NOT know this information about someone when interacting online, so best practice might be to act “as if” the person we are dealing with is fragile and proceed accordingly.

      Again, thanks for your comment, and looking forward to hearing more from you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Just Say No To Subtweeting | Saye Bennett

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