Send In The Clowns

Nothing has made me want to be a bold activist like the events of the past year. And yet, when I try and then meet resistance, my boldness dissolves and I creep back into my little tent alone. Very alone.

The election of the Clown in Chief, the knowledge that people I know and love put him office, the racism and ignorance I read every day on my FB feed, the incessant idiotic tweets, and now Charlottesville…. There was a time when I would have seen this as a fulfillment of some apocalyptic inevitability. Only because I was taught to see the world that way. Thankfully my vision has cleared up.

But seeing things clearly isn’t exactly a blessing. It’s hard, too. The world is at once a place of marvels and a horror show. There is beauty and agony, love and hate, incredible acts of sacrifice and abhorrent acts of cruelty and selfishness.

I rarely engage in political conversation, in person or online. But the election of #45 and all the shit surrounding him have given me a different resolve. Over the past few days, I wrote some posts that got a lot of action and discussion. One was regarding the firing of the white supremacist clowns identified in the Charlottesville, VA march. I argued that, as much as I disagree with them, their march was protected as free speech and it seemed wrong to ‘out’ them and fire them from their jobs for expressing their ideas, just as it was wrong to do the same to people who march for civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, or any other political stance or ideology.

You can imagine how popular my argument was.

A few people agreed with me, spoke of constitutional protections for all, of slippery slopes, of how easy it is to demonize people with whom you disagree. There was some healthy discussion. Some good points were made.

Then I watched the VICE video of the march itself, heard the rhetoric and threats and saw the actions of the marchers. These were no clowns. These were domestic terrorists.

And I changed my mind.

I wrote another post to that effect. That after hearing the words the marchers used to dehumanize anyone who wasn’t in their demographic and seeing their desperate need to ‘reclaim’ the power they felt had been stolen from them – a power over other people that was theirs by some divine right – I no longer felt they were protected. They couldn’t be ‘outed’ – they were out in plain sight – and they should be accountable for their decision to hold such an odious ideology. There was no excusing them.

I thought it was a pretty decent post.

My husband didn’t think so. He was concerned that writing such things would bring unwanted attention to me, to our family, to our children. He asked me to back off writing such posts.

I took a deep breath. I hate being censored, but I also know I don’t always think through the consequences before I do something.

He had a point. I told him I respected what he said and ok (“OK” meaning ok, I will back off political posts).

But then – because I can’t keep my mouth shut and because I was bristling a little and because I thought of all my friends of color – I stated how sad it made me that we had the privilege of “backing off” and laying low, of not speaking, and by not speaking, of not bringing attention to ourselves, while millions of other people – some of whom were our friends – did NOT have that privilege and were targeted unfairly for no other reason than the color of their skin or the language their parents spoke.

I am still reeling from the melee that followed. A thrown laptop and slammed doors and raised voices followed by the silent treatment. And this barb: “I am getting tired of your leftist bullshit. I don’t even know who the hell you are anymore!”

He told me I could write whatever I wanted, but to get some secret blog somewhere and do it so no one would know it was me, no one would read it and find their way back to my family, to him, to our kids, no one would firebomb our house or spray paint slurs on our cars or threaten our jobs.

Easy enough. Way ahead of you.

My husband is not a bad guy. He’s not a hateful person. But he is from another generation, another era. He’s an enigma. In one breath he talks of his freewheeling days in the 60s, and in the next he quotes Fox News. He laughs with and hugs his black friends in one minute, and in the next makes stereotyping derogatory remarks about how badly certain ethnic groups drive. He curses a blue streak in traffic and watches porn with me to keep our sex life active, but then serves in church and mourns my lack of faith. I’m his soulmate, the woman who saved him, his equal, but he’s the head of this house. He wants me to talk to him about things important to me, to be open, even if it’s something scary. But when I bring up things that I care about and express my thoughts and opinions honestly, he loses it, calls it bullshit, tells me he doesn’t know me anymore, and turns away from me, giving me the silent treatment. And wonders why I become more guarded.

Life is a circus of complicated people and complex maneuvers with no safety net.

So here I am, spilling out my wrenched and broken and tearful heart on my Hidden Blog. Because I can’t tell this to my family. Or my friends. Or to Facebook. Or to a god I no longer believe is there. I have no other place to take it but here.  Old and hidden and alone in my own private circus tent.

At least I have that freedom. At least, for now. Still… I  hoped for more than this.

“Isn’t it rich?
Isn’t it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
And where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns

Don’t bother
They’re here”

-Sondheim, Stephen (comp). “Send In the Clowns.”  A Little Night Music. 1973

13 thoughts on “Send In The Clowns

  1. I’m still *reeling* from what the world looks like without my religious glasses on. The truth is it’s not a prettier place. Holy shit, it’s really not.

    My hubs is like yours in a few ways. While he’s not of an older generation (we’re both 44) he is an extremely private person. When I came out as an atheist publicly he went into orbit. He continues to have major problems with comments I write on blogs even though I do it under an anonymous name. My answer to him: look hun, it’s not about you…I have the right to my own voice and I’ll not be silenced.

    While I love him and respect him my life is now about ME. I have lived like a churchmouse under the thumb of religion for too long. I will f’ing speak my mind, on whatever topics I want, and I don’t give two shits if people don’t like what I have to say (they certainly never bothered to stay quiet around ME). There has been this message that I’m only acceptable when I’m silent, and I’m done with that crap. Let the cards fall where they may; I’ll accept the consequences for speaking my mind.

    I do have some sympathy for the fact that we up and changed on our husbands. They married a certain kind of woman and now are married to a different kind of woman. How to remedy that though? People do change and this is an unstoppable part of life. I don’t know if it’s the drop in female horror-mones as I approach menopause or what, but I’m just damn fed up of catering to everyone else.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Skirt,

    Thank you for sharing this personal story and the way you’ve been feeling. I guess the anonymity helps you write with the honesty you crave to express, but you also express yourself well and am always glad to read your posts.

    I am sorry, but the behavior of your husband concerns me, but it’s not my place to get involved. But if you’d like to have a discussion about it perhaps e-mail would be better. It’s completely up to you, but if your interested my email is Suffice to say that the most charitable thing I can say is that a loving husband is one who would cherish your growth as a human being, would be proud to see your compassion expand, and would support you in your attempts to be courageous. You are very intelligent and it feels like there is a beautiful part of you that isn’t being appreciated. If you were being supported by your husband you might find that courage easier to find, and you would find yourself shrinking into silence. You are exactly right, many of us have the freedom to hide, others do not, and I do think it’s important to demonstrate that courage. I hope that you will continue to grow into the person you want to be.

    I was like you initially as well in regards to free speech. It didn’t quite take watching the VICE documentary, but that certainly sealed it. Ultimately the tenets of white supremacy are incompatible with free speech. Because their worldview is one which dehumanizes anybody who is not white, and gentile (and probably male for the most part as well). Thus no jew, person of color, or someone of a different sexual orientation can accept their worldview by its very definition. Thus to make their worldview possible it simply requires absolute submission by other groups to allow themselves less than equal status in society, or the white supremacists would have to resort to violence to achieve their goals. Thus their speech is inciting violence, and that’s where I draw the line. Good for you for recognizing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Swarn, I always appreciate your thoughtfulness. In my angst I fear I presented my husband in the worst light. However, that worst part of him exists (just like my worst parts exist, but I’m not as quick to see them 😉 For too many years – not just with him, but with others – I have repressed my own ideas or chosen inaction for the sake of keeping peace. That’s not always a bad thing – we all need governors at times and make choices for survival – but getting older has rusted the hinges on my lid and makes me less likely to hold back. That’s a change, too. I will email you… it will be nice to have a male perspective.

      “Thus to make their worldview possible it simply requires absolute submission by other groups ”

      One of the things my hubs says is that showing up to counter-protest the white supremacists gives them the credence and notoriety they crave, that it would be much better to just turn the back and ignore them and deny them the press coverage. I can see his point. But, how can we ignore something so abhorrent on the sheer hope that lack of attention will make them just go away? I don’t think that is realistic. It wasn’t realistic during the civil rights movement, which he supported. That is the submission you mention. They won’t go away. And as for press coverage, the more people who know about them, see the reality of them, and have to face a decision about where they stand, the better!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful post! I can see/hear/feel the anguish as I’ve experienced similar events. I hope you will continue to “hang in there” but I know how tough it can be. At least you have this blog. And understanding readers who agree with your outlook on the terribly messed up situation in our country.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey Skirt, it’s great to see you again, even though the circumstances you’ve written about aren’t so great. A couple of days ago I had written a fairly lengthy reply. I was proofing it when the power went out. It came back on about 5 minutes later, but I decided to wait a while longer before attempting again, just in case. After about an hour, I thought the coast was clear. I got about halfway through my reply and I lost power again. This time, for over an hour. Turns out, the power company was working on the lines. Anyway, I wasn’t in the mood to reply at that point. Lol

    As I was saying in my original reply, I felt like I was reading my own script with regard to my now ex-husband. From reading your OP and your reply to Swarn — your husband, my father, and my ex would probably become best buds if they ever met.

    I can understand your partner’s concerns (fear), but he doesn’t seem to realize that by not protesting against white supremacists, he is really cooperating with them — and is demanding that you do the same. Such mentalities significantly contributed to Hitler’s success.

    You can message me on FB if you ever want to chat privately. It’s under the same name as my blog. Also feel free to email me anytime. It’s located in my gravatar.

    Liked by 2 people

    • First of all, I’m touched that you replied not once but three times! I always appreciate your feedback and posts 🙂 Secondly, aren’t you glad we no longer look at “posts deleted by power disruption” as some divine STOP sign! I hate confrontation, but agree with you that we have to counter people like white supremacists – or any group who wants to dehumanize anyone else – when they spout their rhetoric. Sometimes it’s impossible to maintain peace when countering them. But it’s worth risking temporary peace to preserve civilization and our rights and liberties with the view for long-term peace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Secondly, aren’t you glad we no longer look at “posts deleted by power disruption” as some divine STOP sign!”

        I thought about that when the power went off the second time. My mind would have certainly gone there back in the day.

        I don’t know if you heard about this yet — the news broke last night on Twitter. According to the reports, the alt-right canceled 67 “America First Rallies” scheduled in 36 states due to the huge counter-protest in Boston.

        “But it’s worth risking temporary peace to preserve civilization and our rights and liberties with the view for long-term peace.”

        Well said.

        “I always appreciate your feedback and posts.”

        The feeling is mutual, friend. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Skirt, your post has stayed in my mind but I didn’t have a chance to reply till now.

    I certainly feel the same about #45 and I did watch most of the VICE video. It was hard to watch, and it’s especially hard to understand how so many can be so bigoted and hateful. But your post stayed on my mind because of the personal nature of it all, especially with your spouse.

    I’m so very grateful to now be in a marriage with my equal — with someone who shares my convictions. For 30 years, I was married to a very conservative quiver-full-minded woman who had severe anger and control issues, combined with a strong sense of entitlement. Toward the end of our marriage as my faith unraveled, I knew my future would be extra bleak if I stayed with her and/or talked about my dying faith with her. We all have different journeys! But I’m so happy to now share my life with someone that has the same worldview. So my heart hurts for anyone that deals with anger or resentment from a spouse who doesn’t want the other to feel free to be themselves and express their convictions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, 30 years…. that’s a long time! Of course, we’re coming up on a quarter of a century. Which is funny, because I never thought I would marry in the first place. I knew if I ever did marry, I sure as hell wasn’t going to marry some conservative evangelical firebrand like the people I grew up around! I married a very socially liberal divorced irreverent high-church-dropout rebel. But as the years have gone on, he has become more fundamental… because of MY influence! Bring on the guilt! I’m sorry that your first marriage ended, but it sounds like your unraveling faith only hastened the inevitable. I’m glad that you found someone with similar values with whom you could share the rest of your journey. I’m going to talk with my husband soon. We have an otherwise strong relationship, so hopefully it won’t be that dire. But regardless of the outcome, I owe him honesty. And I owe myself honesty, too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Somehow I missed this most recent comment of yours, Skirt. I too had the effect of making the people around me more devout, and this has stuck in my craw in the most painful way since deconversion. In effect, I helped seal my own fate (of being shunned) when I left the church. It’s hard to swallow that I not only damaged myself, but so many others too, by the destructive religious beliefs I held. I have enough regrets to fill the damn Grand Canyon. Yet there is nothing that can be done but move on. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

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