Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Thank You Note: Long Overdue

I found this old post in my drafts folder.  I edited it just a bit.  At this point, it's not likely that the intended audience will read it, and I no longer need them to.  It's sitting here, though, and I think there are things here that bear being made public.

This post represents a point in my learning to claim my life for myself, and that's valuable, to me....

I've spent most of a year, now, pondering how to say the things I feel I need to say. At first, I wanted to jettison all my own rage and hurt in your direction, just as you seem to have done. It's what I've always done, before, and I know that, at the time, I would have felt wholly justified in doing so.

I held myself back, though, because I've learned, over the last several years that feeding that monster within me doesn't vent it or take it away. No, it swells it up to immense proportions, and, before I know it, it's taken over the space reserved for it and is simply gushing forth in an ugly torrent. It then refuses to be contained to only the paths I choose, and it overflows not only onto my targets, but also onto everyone else in my life.

So absolutely not worth that price, to have that few moments or hours or days of sheer, hostile reactivity. Utterly not worth the damage it would cause to those I love the most, and have promised to protect.

When I wanted to say something nasty back to you, I instead used that energy to do something sweet for Jim or the children. I had shown the posts to Jim, who is still very upset by them (they had the character of all but ignoring his place in our family, and that the decisions we make, we make together, as partners). When he felt like saying or doing something nasty to you, I did something sweet for him and/or the kids, too.

There has been an incredible amount of sweetness, here, over the last months, on account of the things you chose to post publicly, and I thank you for that.

Nearly all of your comments came while I was offline, away from the computer, and happily living my life with my family. I don't know what you were thinking or doing at that time, or if your children were in the house while all that toxic energy was pouring forth. I hope they were not, and that they weren't until the rage had passed somewhat, because children are especially sensitive to that type of energy.

I do know that we passed a quiet day at home, the children and I, doing things that mattered to us, and being together. I had no idea what was being posted on my thread, and how ugly so much of it was. I had no idea that friends, coworkers, and people I know only online were rallying to my defense, or that each of them, at some point, commented on the unfairness and seeming insanity of the attack. I was happily oblivious, for many hours, living my life according to the flow that seemed to best fit all our needs, that day.

And because I didn't know, I didn't react. I added no energy whatsoever to the interaction, and it went on and on and on. What you posted, during all those hours, was not instigated or exacerbated by me in any way.

This was huge, for me. That's because it was proof that I was not what your posts were about. If they had been, they would have faded away once you felt you had made your points, expressed your concerns, or whatever else you needed to say.

That you kept going, fanned by the posts of others, suggests that the anger within you which was being aimed at me, was about something beyond me. I have ideas about what that might be, but it's not my intent to decipher or judge yours, but rather to thank you for the realization. Over the years, there have been many verbal interactions of the same nature, when I honestly had no concept of what I had said or done to you to merit such a volatile and long-lived reaction.

Before, I always assumed there was something in what I had said or done that was, without my meaning it, horrendous. L]ast January, though, showed me that, although you no doubt perceive it that way, what is really happening is that you are perceiving my words to mean something they didn't say or intend, and then holding me accountable for your perception of them.

In this case, you responded to a very general post. The topic was glancingly related to you, but wasn't directed at you or anyone else, specifically. It was simply me stating what I had been doing. If it was upsetting to you, that certainly was not my intenet, which was only to state that I was puzzled by a point of the Montessori philosophy.

Your reply made it clear that you found clear offense in my statement, in my disagreeing with a philosophy of education you choose for your children. Your implication seemed to say that doing so was a crime, of sorts, against family members.

And you proceeded to write about many aspects of my family and personal lives, using specifics including children's names. Some of what you wrote was true. A good deal of that was misrepresented, or out of context. You made many statements about our life as facts; yet you've spent very little time at our home for the last several years. You stated what my intentions were when we'd never discussed the matters in question. You made general assertions about the educational choices we hanve made, and the assertions themselves made it obvious that you knew little about those choices.

I wanted, until very recently to refute the things that simply were not true. I've come to realize, though, that it is very unlikely you will be able to receive any argument I would make objectively. I also realize that I feel no need to defend myself or my family's life choices, so long as we are all happy and thriving.

So I thank you for that realization, and also the new certainty I have, that I will only tolerate civil behavior, regardless of whether someone is family. In a loving family bond, concerns could be aired with gentle kindness. That they are often not, within ours, points to problems with the dynamic, and I finally understand that I can't keep peace with those who are not inherently or intentionally peaceful.

I know that you feel that you have lost a sister, and that you have ideas about why that might be so. I also know that your base reaction to anything I say is to mistrust and believe that I am lying. So, while it's likely you won't believe, I want to explain, so that, if you ever choose to consider it, you may come to some understanding that might be useful elsewhere in your life.

Last January was, for me, another abusive episode in a relationship punctuated by such acts. When we were small, it was physical bullying, and dominating behavior. As time passed and I got stronger and larger, this gave way to other behaviors - the revealing of secrets, public humiliations, screaming and raging. These lasted, in one form or another, until last January, probably, and we believe there was another episode in April, although we haven't sought to prove it.

All these incidents are closely linked to times of upheaval in your life, times of personal crises.

I'm not in any way accusing you of doing it intentionally. I think it is a coping mechanism you developed when you were very young, and which you subconsciously justify to yourself if I provide anything that might be perceived as a trigger.

This has made me feel a need to keep my distance, to keep my family safe from the dangers being too closely involved with you presence. When the children do wish to see you, I can emotionally separate myself, and that seems to help me to focus my attention where it is needed - on my children, and their needs.

You may have lost the sister you thought you had. In truth, though, it has been many years since our relationship has been mutually beneficial, and it is likely far better for both of us if our relationship remains as it is. In my case, I don't sense that you are aware of how your actions last January affected us, and therefore it doesn't seem there is a high likelihood that these incidents are over. Trust has been broken, and I don't know that it would be possible to rebuild it, even if you chose to try.

I know that you feel I have shut you out of Jeremiah and Annalise's lives, but nearer t othe truth would be that they don't really enjoy you, and tolerated you so they could spend time with their cousins, whom they love a great day.  Your relationship with them is distant; they know many adults who accept them as equals, while it is clear to both of them that you see them as "just kids". They've talked with me about the way you question them, cut them off when they are speaking, and largely ignore them, otherwise. You might have a closer relationship with them if you were able to see them simply as people, as Jeremiah and Annalise, rather than as your niece and nephew (which is only one aspect of their rich, full lives).

There is ample public evidence that Miah and Lise are leading rich, full lives. There are many Facebook albums, and two blogs, and numerous Picasa albums, where you can find accounts of some but not remotely all of our many activities, and my thoughts as we journey along our chosen path. You will also find many of our IHIPs and quarterly reports, approved by our district.

Almost certainly, if you read there, you will find things you dislike or disagree with. Here in my blogs, I express my truth, my experiences, my memories, and the effects these have had on who I am. I share those things about the children, when they give permission for me to do so.You are free to read any or all, and comment, if you wish to. I will inform you in advance, however, that the comments are moderated, and I will allow no abusive or discourteous comments to post. Dissent and logical argument aere always welcome; unschoolers love meaty philosophical debates, and others may join in.

The last thing I would like to thank you for is the huge increase in unschooling friends your posts have generated for our family. As people commented, our network grew to cover a lot of the globe. We've joined groups, had adventures, and traveled to meet others in many places, and we have found a chosen family that is close, supportive, kind, and to whom we don't need to explain or defend our life choices, but where we can get and give support and enjoy the company of others who are passionate about life, and about creating joy for themselves and their families.

If it weren't for your posts, and the replies to them from people who spoke with wisdom and clarity, I don't know that I would have become brave enough to extend our world this way. And for that, my gratitude is immense.

May you go in peace -


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