Why I Call You Friends (and Mean It)

Dear Friends,

I’ve been having a hard time putting pen to paper this week, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have so very many things racing around my head and my heart. My thoughts and feelings, hopeful and discouraged, are running circles around me, creating quite a tornado effect, such that picking just one thing from the swirling, whirling storm has proved challenging, like trying to know whether to focus on Toto’s disappearance or the Wicked Witch’s cackling, or maybe make a run for Auntie Em’s house which is shelter but also off its foundation, uprooted and adrift.

I’ve been well this week overall and mentally recovering from feeling hidey; wanting, in fact, to get back to you, my friends, because we have things to say to each other, like hi, and how are you, and are you in the tornado, too, or are you outside it for now? 

The internet is a strange place. Fascinating. Wonderful. Magical. Awful. That’s no surprise to you, I’m sure; it’s no surprise to me, either.

The internet, I’ve found, is a lot like the rest of life — in exactly the same fascinating, wonderful, magical, awful ways — and so I don’t consider it virtual. Not at all. Not anymore. Not when the feelings elicited online are real. Not when it changes minds and hearts — for real. Not when the relationships created are, you guessed it, real.

Now, I get it — I do — when people say being online is addictive, and it can change our communication, and it alters how our brains work, and we need to have time with our community face-to-face. I agree with all those things; it’s just that I think those are true for our other life pursuits, as well; the internet is one of many things that affects us this way.

Books, for example. Oh my gosh with the books already! I sink addictively into books, like, constantly, and I’ll be lying if I said my kids don’t have to put their wee little faces between my head and the latest Ilona Andrews novel and remind me they’re there. “MommommommomMOMMYmom!” Face to face? “Oh, yeah, kids! Sorry about that! Mommy will be right with you as soon as this chapter’s done. Or maybe the next one…”

We need to be cautious and careful about all of life’s pulls, and the internet is one of them. But the internet is also very, very good when it’s an avenue to each other. When it beckons community closer. When it frees us to be deeply, truly, authentically ourselves. When it shows us we’re not alone.

You folks have been — you are — real friends to me, which is one of the thoughts that’s been whirling and swirling as I left this haiku on my blog for the last week, describing my feelings about the Church and its exclusion of people who are welcoming and affirming of those who are LGBTQ:

Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.
Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.

Fuckity fuck. Balls.

The haiku is, obviously, spiritually deep and totally non-offensive, by which I mean shallow and potentially offensive depending on how you feel about balls and profanity.

Also, I am mature in the Lord.

I thought about taking my poem down, mostly because I am, at heart, an optimist and pretty set at finding joy and magic in the mess, and I didn’t like leaving discouragement and despair and defeat just sitting there, smoldering.

I kept thinking things like, “I wouldn’t recite my Balls haiku at work,” and “I wouldn’t recite it in church,” and “I wouldn’t say it to my mom-in-law” who occasionally reads this blog and may have to burn her out eyeballs after reading that (or who may secretly giggle because you never know with that lady, and I’ve corrupted her to the best of my ability — you can pray for her).

My point, in other words, is I have a filter, faulty though it may be in some situations, so I wondered whether I should — whether I ought to — leave my doleful Eeyore of a poem sitting out on the world wide webs for all to see, and I decided yes again and again. I decided yes, I’ll leave it there, because you’re my friends, and this is the kind of thing I’d recite to you if we sat on my back patio together after dark sipping gin while we listened to the crickets and loosened our hair and slumped low in our chairs with our feet on the rungs of the unwashed table in front of us, talking about love and loss, and faith and freedom, and magic and mess.

I’d recite my poem aloud, and you’d hear my voice — balls, balls, balls, balls… — and you’d know I’m frustrated and sad and longing for humanity to love each other better and broader and deeper and wider and higher and braver and true. Fuckity fuck. BALLS.

You’d laugh, but knowingly, and I’d laugh back, because there are something we can understand about each other without the longer words of explanation. That’s friendship. And that’s exactly what those of you who commented and Facebooked and emailed your giggles did. And those of you who chuckled quietly. Or nodded sagely. Or raised a glass in sympathy.

So I left my haiku all week, knowing some folks would leave but most of you would stay because we sit together so often after dark, waving to each other, and we’ve built something real here that bolsters us together when we’re a little lost or a little alone. Friends who are learning to trust each other’s hearts and to let each other see who we really are. Really real.

My pledge to you, as long as this space exists, is to let you in. Whenever I write, whether weird or wonky or wild and wonderful, I’ll let you all the way in, friends. All the way into this crazy life. Which is risky, yes. SO RISKY, this friendship thing, right? Risky, absolutely, because friendship where we reveal true pieces of ourselves always is. Risky and worth it.

In conclusion, Hi. And How are you? And Are you in the tornado, too, friend, or are you outside it for now? 

With love,

Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Waving in the dark.

IMG_4344

P.P.S. That picture is from several weeks ago while I was watching my son as he slept in our car after vomiting all over Crater National Park.

P.P.P.S. God bless us, every one.

Next Post
Previous Post

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
28 comments
  1. Thank you for waving in the dark to me. So often I need it. I wave back.

  2. Beth, thank you for your Wordsmithery.

  3. I am in and out…I think a round of good news bad news sums it up right now….

    Good news! This post is funny. Sorta.

    Bad news. It’s long and there’s some TMI. You have been warned.

    Good news! We went to my cousin’s renewal of vows/wedding reception in the beautiful forests near Port Angeles.

    Bad news. On the way Levi started shrieking in panic because he got a pea stuck in his nose. Sariah was scared by Levi’s shrieking and started shrieking too.

    Good news! The pea popped out fine and Levi learned his lesson!

    Bad news. As we pulled up our car started smoking and we were mysteriously out of oil.

    Good news! Our engine wasn’t frozen and the car seemed fine after we put some oil in.

    Bad news. Our campsite was kinda far from the main stuff, and somehow we didn’t pack the pole for our rain fly.

    Good news! Our campsite was lovely, our air mattress stayed inflated, we found a replacement pole in Port Angeles, I got good exercise, and it barely even sprinkled anyways. The wedding was absolutely lovely!!! The reception was fun, and it was wonderful seeing my relatives.

    Bad news. Levi got stung by a bee at the reception. Just inside his ear.

    Good news! He was a trooper! He held perfectly still while I carefully got the stinger out with a butter-knife, and put toothpaste and baking soda on the sting. After a priesthood blessing, a nifty Cars band-aid, some fruit snacks, and a good cuddle, he was running around and playing like nothing had happened.
    The next day we packed up and left, and we got to see Loren’s brother Brent and his wonderful family on the way home!

    Ugly news. At around 11:30 pm our car started sputtering and bucking on I-5 about 43 miles north of Portland.

    Good news! Loren made it to the shoulder before the car died!

    Bad news. We were really close to the white line and our car was dead.

    Good news! A lovely police man helped us push the car closer to the guard rail, and my wonderful parents agreed to come get us!

    Bad news. Since the shoulder was so narrow, we had to get the car really close to the guard rail, and it was still pretty close to the white line. So I was effectively stuck in the car because I could open the door enough to get out on the passenger side and I was NOT getting my big awkward pregnant body out on the traffic side. Also we needed the battery for our warning lights, so rolling the window down wasn’t an option. My parents were coming from The Dalles. Pregnant lady trapped in a car for hours…no bathrooms….

    Good news! I could still crack open my door a bit, and with some creative maneuvering I managed to aim the pee outside the car!!!!

    Bad news. Sariah started running a fever.

    Fantastic news! My parents came, we towed the car off the road, and Dad got our car working again! Sariah’s fever broke and she woke up her usual self! We got home safely!

    Bad news. Most of us have diarrhea.

    Good news! We got home before it started!!

  4. Beth, you make me feel like my heart might be safe with some people.

  5. ‘Tornado’ makes much better sense than ‘tomato’, which is what I thought it said when I first read it. (old rheumy eyes and I’ve been canning…)

  6. Beth, I think it is measure of how much I adore you that I continue to read your blog posts about penises and balls when I’m a lesbian. Just sayin. Lovity love love you. Thank you for loving my people and being all…BALLSY…about it.

  7. Dear Beth,

    I love your writing. I love your blog. I hope someday we are friends but I’m not going to tell you that for fear of seeming creepy.

    Your haiku is beautiful.

    A couple of years ago I went down to our state capitol, walked down rows and rows of church friends I’ve known from a year to forever, and their welcoming smiles turned to confused frowns as I kept walking.

    I walked until I reached the glowing rainbow tent, picked out a sign that said love is love, and joined the wavers on the side of the road. That night gay marriage was legalized in Hawaii. That night I felt proud for the first time in a long time. I went home, wrote a post of Facebook announcing that I had stepped down from my position in the church (I was a dance teacher and musical choreographer of the largest church in Hawaii) and went to sleep terrified but light.

    My Facebook lost a lot of weight in the days following. As did my phone. And I am glad for it.

    Thank you for being brave and bold and standing up for what you believe. Thank you for being strong and an example and an inspiration. Thank you for taking the risks that touch so many lives. Thank you for making me laugh.

    You fucking rock.

    Love,
    Angela

  8. oh, the tornado has been spinning hard and fast here in the past few weeks. As I said on my own blog, clouds dissipate. I, for one, am glad you shared your haiku. It’s good to not feel alone.

  9. My religion is ‘try not to be an asshole’.
    That’s it. Easy.

    I don’t do religion anymore. Because 90% of the people I met did not pass the ‘try not to be an asshole’ test.

    I started questioning. Thinking. And realized I don’t believe in a god.

    But I still try to take care of the hearts of those around me.

  10. I love patios, I love gin, I love your poem, and if you were to recite it to me while swilling gin on the back patio, I would contribute an interpretive dance. Your voice makes a difference.

  11. I’m in the tornado-has-passed-rebuilding stage right now. Praying that the rumbles of fear on the horizon aren’t going to build into another full-fledged storm. Just pulled my son out of high school to return to homeschooling, which is both a relief and a heartache. I’m so afraid for him… for us. I want so much for him to have more, for both my kids to have more, to not have to struggle and scrape for every penny. I want them to lead fullfilled lives, not weighed down by depression and anxiety that they both battle every single day.

    Hang in there, Mama. I hear your poem, and in some virtual space, I am standing there on the porch, nodding and smiling sadly right beside you. Change is coming. I can see it in the fierceness of my daughter’s dedication to her “other gendered” friends. To the boy who wore a dress to the prom. (She loaned him a pair of her best heels.) To every single person who has ever felt pushed away or left out, she shines the love of Jesus.

    Change is coming, and you’re helping by talking about these issues so openly. Hang in there, Mama. You’re doing good things. <3

  12. As I read this, my agnostic husband is debating religion with a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the front door…and everything they are saying reminds me why I have avoided “the church” as a whole over the years. I have two kiddos, who I’d love to have the friendship, and community that I had growing up church. But the church is no longer that place for me…I can’t willingly bring my kids into that judgmental atmosphere. I just can’t do it.

    I can’t even allow them around my own family, who judged me because I danced, or wanted to do non-religious musical theater, because I *Gasp*…got pregnant before I was married and even bigger *gasp* MARRIED the father, who is currently debating at the front door. We spent 6 weeks, in therapy with my pastor, where he told us every reason why our marriage wouldn’t work… we were from different cultures (Scotland, and US, non-religious and Christian etc.) I was currently 5 months pregnant, we had only known each other…6 months, we were currently living together, my mom hated him…. My family expected me to apologize to THEM for getting pregnant…

    Yet lately, I’ve been missing that community… but realize that it doesn’t have to be a church… communing with others who also have been burned has been helpful. Reading your blog and remembering that not ALL of the Christian world has gone crazy, that there are still a few, like me, who just want to get back to the basics of loving one another and supporting our fellow humans no matter what walk they are on. If only….if only we could.

    1. Here is one place we can! 😀 This is one such Come-Unity…

  13. I can’t find a church. We as a family can’t find a church.
    the story is like so many others that I hesitate to even tell it.
    Went to church, worked at church, did too much at church, got burnt at church, a lot of crappy things happened and my family got hurt, people can really suck.
    Cried, cried some more.
    Tried to move on only to find that I can’t find a church!!!! I just want to love people! Gay people too! I also love Jesus and want to worship Him.
    I am in a tornado a quiet lonely one. Numbness is settling in.

    1. Migdalia, your words are familiar to me. I am sorry that the church has left you feeling this way. Several years ago my husband and I quit looking for a ‘church’ to attend. We missed the worship and the relationships that come from the church. But we didn’t miss the drama and damage that the church caused…the wounds never seem to heal.

      So…we started looking for the church in various places. Our neighborhood, the dog park, volunteering…wherever people are. I’m finally free from feeling the NEED to be in the church because I realize that the church is really everywhere! Beth has created ‘church’ on this blog. 🙂

      I hope you can find peace in finding the church by loving people outside of the building and bureaucracy. Love and hope for you, my friend!

      1. Thanks Jerr!
        I completely agree! I am hell bent on just loving people 🙂
        In or out of the church of course. Jesus did that right?

  14. I’m new here, like I found your blog yesterday new. So I feel a little odd commenting on a post all about how your internet friends are your friends, but I totally relate to that. I’ve met several of my real friends on the Internet. I have lots of new friends from starting my own blog.

    Tornados pop up quickly in our life here. The come out of no where with a huge range of emotion and they eventually work themselves down to. Small gust of wind, but at this point in life, I don’t think they ever leave completely. Kind of like trying to juggle the balls in my life, I know I can’t do it alone. But when I get help from God and from the Angels he gives me here (aka family) I can do it, with that help. So the helpers are what get me through the tornados or help me catch all the balls that are falling on me

  15. For once, I’m not in the tornado. I might just be in the eye of the storm, though. It can be so hard to tell.

    Love to you windswept wanderers out there tonight.

  16. Hi Beth, I’m in the tornado, but I know I will be okay. You are my friend even though you have never met me. Keep talking to me (to all of us) as friends. Your words make us realize that it is okay for us to be human. As I have struggled through the most challenging year of my life, I have returned to your blog again and again and again to find strength. Both/and echos through my mind constantly. I love that you make me laugh and you make me cry and you make me feel like someone out there “gets it.” Wish I lived close enough to sit on your front porch and drink gin with you!

  17. In the tornado friend and never fear, “those who know things about the internet” do not pay much attention to the percentage of your readers who live outside of the US time zone boundaries. So while I am feeling low and scrolling my phone pointlessly because all my internet friends are sleeping, there you are…. Not sleeping but waving. So here I am waving back across time zones and through tornadoes an wondering how we live well the rest of today and next week and so on even with despair creeping and sickness lurking and uselessness feeling. Remberong in all of this that God is the same today and will be tomorrow.

  18. Haikus like that must be shared. It’s really important. You leave it up, you’re a boss. Also thank you for the poop in the closet. And Clifford bullshit and Tricky Dick. Being human. I like this. All the thank yous.

  19. Ok certainly in the tornado. Pretty sure I will snap soon. Oddly though right now I am no longer dreading meeting my breaking point. No I am so much more looking forward to it. I am hoping after this complete shattering of myself I will be able to find it inside me to not just start over but to do so in a less self judgemental way. See I have three children, a 10 year old nearly 5 year old (he can no longer be called 4 as he has past six month according to him) and a 2 year old. Here is the fun part were I say I am 27. Then everyone dose the math. Yep I honestly was 16 when I gave birth to my oldest son (oh sorry math help I turned 17 4 days after he was born.) Because of my age, I was judged and categorized as a failure. I was very determined to not fail as a mom. In fact there has never been anything in my life that I have ever been more determined to do correctly. Sadly in reality this is not something that is pass or fail. Really every day you both fail and pass in multiple ways. I get this and am ok with I knew this even when I was 17. But I was so determined to prove that I was not just a statistic that my entire life became about my child. Now this is sort of normal for any parent, however I have taken it to an extreme. Were normal parents go out at least once and awhile I do not. Honestly my 2 year old and nearly 5 year old have never been away from me for more then 30 minutes on two separate occasions. Except the 5 year old did spend one night away from me when I had said 2 year old, but otherwise it dose not happen. Even though I know parents get babysitters every now and again to have time to remember there adults I cringe at the thought of it. In my head I hear all the things the people swore up and down would happen as i was so young to have kids. How someone else would obviously end up raising him as no 16 year old would take the time to. Here lies another problem with this. Because I focused so much on making sure that no one else was raising my kids I have failed to do other important things like my own schooling so I can/could better our life. I was/am so focused on making sure that no one can say that I “pond ” my children on others I have failed to remember there is more to parenting then simply being 100% there all the time. One needs to also show there children that its ok to tale time for yourself. I have also fsiled to remember that it would not simply be poning my children off on others if I were to go back to school or get a job or both. But at the same time I do not think I could do that. The thought of it stresses me out. I’m hoping I reach my breaking point and in it i find the strength inside me to ignore the voices in my head that are not actually my own but those of all the wrong people whos opinions should not have mattered but somehow caught me and stuck in my head. In this breaking point i hope to find the ability to reset my redicules standards for myself to some far more realistic ones. Ones were I do not feel extremely guilty when I choose to do something for me or at least not so guilty that it actually renders what should have been a stress relief the opposite of one
    Also in this break I hope to find some energy so I can find away to make our life better. As of right now i barely have the energy to take care of my kids i have no cclue how I could do both take care of them and work or school or both but something has to happen

    1. Hey, Savana, you’re capital w Wonderwoman.

    2. Savanna, I felt felt similar things. You are a great mom! You can do this! It will be hard but you will all be better for it. Praying for you my fellow mom friend.

    3. Savana, WOW. You know that meme about being braver than you feel and stronger than you think? Well that’s you to a T. You have done an awesome thing raising your children with such devotion and giving them so much of your time and love. And now it’s time to do something for YOU. Not because your children need to see you as something more than their mother but because YOU do. Yes you owe it to them, but more importantly you owe it to yourself. You are worth it, you deserve it and you can do it. You don’t need to have some great big life plan figured out, lord knows I still don’t and I’m 41, but start doing something that makes you happy, that makes you feel like YOU. And you may not remember who that is, but that’s ok too, we are all in a constant state of flux and change, so go find out what feels right, right now. Start small, just try to reconnect with yourself and what brings you joy. Look for the joy all around you, because it’s there, along with all the pain and filth and mess that goes with it. But the more you start reaching for the joy, the more you will find, and the more energy you will release within yourself for the search. Sometimes that release comes with tears, despair and anguish, but that’s ok too, just let it go through you and you will come out the other side. And when those little voices in your head start talking, do what I do and put your fingers in your ears and say “nah nah nah nah, I’m not listening”! Nobody who matters will judge you, and those who will judge you, don’t matter. The happier you become with who you are, the less you will give a damn what anybody else thinks. And the more you accept responsibility for your own happiness, the more you will start to understand that you are not responsible for anyone else’s, not even your children’s. And poof! there goes the guilt… And Savana, please know when I say this that I am talking as much to myself as I am to you, we are all in this together and alone, both/and as Beth says. And that I say it with all the love in my heart because regardless of the fact that I never met you, your heart touched my heart just for a moment and that surely is a relationship of some kind, maybe the purest of all, because it is just souls reaching souls. And in that I believe we are friends, you, me, Beth and all of the lovely people who write on here and who make me laugh, cry and generally move me in countless ways on countless days. I’m wishing you all the best Savana, and live and light to you all xxx

      1. I love the nobody-who-matters-will-judge-you-and those-who-judge-you-don’t-matter part. Thanks for this Christina, it saves my soul these days as I am in the tornado since weeks. And oh these judgemental people who never care to ask “how are you” but have all the answers at hand and dare to judge how successful I have been so far in life. Here I am a working single mom of two (and two kids is a lot of kids!) having to realize that my closest family members see me as a failure. So Savanna, I so get this idea of always proving that you are not part of the statistics. I get this being too tired to take care of yourself because all the energy is needed already for being perfect and proving you’re doing fine. I am waving out of the dark into the dark and I am smiling. Because there is Beth, and friends and love and magic in the mess. And poops and fuckity and hope.

    4. Savana-
      I am also in the teen mom club I turned 18 49 days after the birth of my first child. I have gone on to have two more beautifully wonderful kids. I have felt and thought all the same thoughts. I managed to graduate high school and a trade school before my son’s birth, not that I ever did much with my education as I had the same fear as you. Someone somewhere was going to pass judgment on my point my child off. My husband dropped out and worked full time to support us. It wasn’t until very resently that I realized the only one sitting in judgement of me, was me. Since then I have found a part time job that I love, I do small things for myself and my husband and I are dating again. Letting go is not giving up. I hope you find it in you to let go.

    5. I just want to recommend an author to you. She has a real love and understanding for teen moms–and yes, I realize you are no longer a teen, but a lot of your emotions and vision of yourself is stuck there, so I think you can find help through her books/blog/whatever you have time for. Her name is Tricia Goyer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *