Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Not A Pretty Crier, Either.

I'm sitting here in the cozy room with a fireplace and big, soft chairs at our local Starbucks. I have a tall, nonfat, decaf hazelnut latte to soothe my aching head, and cute husband sitting across the table typing away on his computer, his psychopathology book open next to him. I am relaxed and at peace now.

I am exhausted, though.

What a roller coaster of a day.

This morning, I got (another) election email from the family. This came after speaking with one of my aunts last night, commiserating over the judgment our family bestows on us (okay, me, she is WAY more covert in her political views than even me). Combine the two and it was just bad timing. [Um, and throw in some hormones.]

I never stand up for myself (see?). I have a passivity problem, but I just got tired of being silent and decided to speak up for myself. I carefully crafted an email to send my mom and dad:
"I respect you and your decisions, so could you please respect me? I am intelligent and well-informed. I care passionately about being civically engaged...I guess I just want to say that just because we don't agree doesn't make us bad people or have bad morals. I am informed and I have convictions just like you guys do."
After I sent it, I felt a huge relief. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had been able to clearly communicate months of frustration and heartbreak. I hoped for an email affirming their love and respect for me. Telling me that, yes, there was more than one way to be a good person. That, of course, they knew I carefully considered things before making my decisions. Disagreeing doesn't mean we are irreconcilable.

Instead, I got a sarcastic and cruel email from my dad, reiterating again his own opinions. He ended his long email with "None of this means we don't love and respect you. We do. Love, Dad"

I was crushed. That one line did not can

Tears instantly welled up in my eyes and I quickly brushed them away and headed to the bathroom before I could really start to cry. I sat in the stall, willing the sobbing into controlled, silent tears. All I wanted was your respect, Dad. Not more debating and arguing.

After 15 minutes, I made it back to my desk. A wave of disappointment and rejection passed over me, and the tears sprung back. My roommate and coworker came over to ask me something, saw the telltale red-rimmed eyes and asked me those fateful words: "What's wrong?"

Cue sobbing into cardigan.

Gosh, I'm classy.

I begged her to pretend like I wasn't crying (public crying humiliates me) and we carried on our work conversation like I was barely squeaking out one word responses. She's a sweetheart for playing my "I'm not crying!" game.

I left work early and found the gorgeous fall day had been taken hostage by a harsh thunder storm. I changed out of my work clothes and went for a walk with my umbrella. I called my little sister, who experiences the same castigation from the family. I shared my day with her, and it was amazing to have my family support me. At least one person in my family who loves me and understands me just the way I am. Someone else who can love our family like crazy but be outraged over their ability to treat us with love and respect this election season.

Sisters are seriously a gift from up above, however corny that sounds.

As I wrote this, I got an email from my mom. It was much, much more gracious. She still debated me, but she included this, which made me so happy:
"I appreciate your candidness on this issue and I so respect your values in many, many ways and am so proud of the fact that you are civic minded. I hope you never feel you cannot be comfortable around your dad and I, that is very sad to think about."
In my very emotional state, I, of course, had a few fat tears rolling down my face. And now my suppressing-a-cry headache is pounding. Whew. Three public cries in one day. I am spent.

I beg you - regardless of your political persuasion, be respectful and loving to those who think differently than you. We need more love and more unity, not more cruelty and hate. You never now how much your words mean to another.

[In all of this, my little community on Twitter was the most supportive group of ladies ever. I received countless messages of support and consolation. It was so encouraging and just what I needed. Sometimes people poke fun at "online friends" and how they aren't "real," but I will tell you - your support and love felt very, very real to me today when I was struggling. So, thank you. You all continue to show me how great this online place is.]


  1. awe! you are so right about needing to respect the opinions of other people! We are all feee to have our own ideas. i hope everything is ok with you and your family.

  2. I'm so sorry your day was so rough. But guess what! Tomorrow the whole thing will be over!! And your fam will just have to come to terms with President Obama. ;-)

  3. i whole hearedly agree <3 a lot of bloggers/people in general seem so much more hostile than i remember and so much less tolerant of people who don't hold their same values/views. it's sad really.

    hope everything is okay with you and your fam - you deserve so much respect for being educated and having educated opinions. <3

  4. I am REALLY proud of you for sticking by your convictions despite the disagreeance. I know it's hard to not always have the approval of our parents, but we're our own people. And they're their own people. And for them, it's often much more difficult to bend at will than it is for us.

    Either way - I wish you the best.

  5. Oh lovely... what a difficult day you've had! It sounds like you've done the right thing and I join everyone else in applauding you for sticking to what you believed. Like Renee said, your family will just have to come to terms with Obama. Fingers crossed.

  6. I completely agree- there needs to be more respect and less cruelty! Sorry your day was such a rollercoaster of emotions, but that it great that you did get to speak your mind!

  7. My heart was breaking for you earlier on twitter. It's good you stood up for yourself and tomorrow it will all be over <3

  8. Oh! I'm so sorry you're going through that! I'm not a pretty crier either, and it is just an awful feeling when you can't hold it in anymore! You're being so strong in your handling of convictions. Crying isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of passion -- that's my mantra when the tears start rolling.

    It's all over tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

  9. oh, ashley, i am so so sorry. i can totally and completely relate to what you are going through. my father and i have had completely opposite political and social values for my entire life, which, combined with our lack of communication and 3000 miles has severely damaged our relationship. it only got worse when i became a stem cell researcher, which he adamantly opposes and never discusses with me. all i wanted was for him to accept me and be proud of what i have accomplished and all her could do was put himself and his own opinions before our relationship. i wrote a blog post about him recently called "letter to a dream" where basically i wrote out in detail everything i felt and had wanted to say (or hard said) that he would never absorb. it was incredibly therapeutic and i highly recommend it. even if he never reads it, just get all of your feels down on paper to lift that weight off your shoulders. i too am blessed to have a sister who is my best friend and we can call and talk and cry over our relationship with our father, and it always helps.

    now that i am in therapy i realize i have had many feelings about my father which i never wanted to feel or acknowledge over the years so i just pushed them back. but now i realize that i need to deal with them on my own because i will never change him. i can, however, change the way i feel about him. by talking about him and writing about him i am able to get it all out on my own without causing more damage to our relationship. i am slowly beginning to just accept him for who he is and try to appreciate the good parts. i guess what i am trying to say is that our parents wont be around forever so we need to try to do whatever we can to just enjoy them in this moment, while still being good and true to ourselves.
    let me know if you ever want to chat or ramble on via email:

  10. I am a new reader de-lurking. This I have had some situations lately where I had do stand up for myself with my parents. Somehow so difficult to do. Your mom's note touched me. Thanks for this very honest blog post.

  11. It's hard not to feel judged when political e-mails show up in the in-box. (Don't discount the hormonal exaggeration factor, either.)

    This may come off as a**vice, but to save my own sanity, I just use the delete key when I see certain subject lines. Nobody has to know I'm not reading them, much as I love them!

  12. Wow that's so hard. I would have cried too. I am so grateful my family is on the same political page as me. I find it really sad when we can't discuss these important issues without disrespecting each other but so often that happens in political debates.

    I hope things improve.

    Especially when Obama wins.


  13. Good for you for sticking up for yourself! I find it so hard to stand up for myself when it comes to my parents because... well, they're my PARENTS. I've lived for so long thinking that everything they say is right... & now that I am forming my own opinions & doing things they don't like, it's difficult for me to live, knowing that I have disappointed them. (I hope I'm making sense.)

    I think what you did was very brave & very wise! It's very admirable. Especially to someone like me who is dealing with crazy drama regarding my own father right now.

    Continue to be strong! & don't worry so much about crying in public. ;] It happens to the best of us.


  14. Oh my Ash,

    I am so sorry. There are no other words to say to you other than that. I think we are all going through generation-relation pains when it comes to this election. Keep your head high. One day you will tell your grandchildren and children how you stood up to people you loved, and it very well may help you understand and empathize with their stances in the future. All in all a good life lesson. The hard times always are.

    Much love and hugs.

  15. I'm so sorry you are going through this right now. As I've said before I'm going similar issues with my family. They pretty much think it's the end of the world if Obama becomes president. That might be a little over dramatic, but that's how I feel. It makes me upset tirhink I'm "going against" my family and angry that they don't support me in my decisions. I'm not bashing them for voting the way they chose to. Anyway... Many hugs are sent your way and ihope you feel better soon. Take care honey!!!

  16. aww hun, what a rough day. I am really proud of you for being so honest and level headed, even though others might not see it as such

  17. *sigh*

    Where to begin with this one? There's so many things I want say, but they just aren't the perfect things to say.

    I can't say that I know what it's like to have parents with opposing view points on political issues, but I can say that I know that desire to please your parents in every way possible...without forgetting who YOU are. It's a very scary thing. Especially when you are SO close with them.

    Example: Telling my parents I had a partner. As liberal as my parents are, this was the scariest thing I've ever had to do because I didn't want to crush their dreams of their only daughter having that wedding day and bearing grandchildren for them. But I couldn't lie about love. I had to tell them. I was lucky because they were completely understanding and have taken her in like their own daughter. Some, aren't so lucky. I couldn't imagine losing my parents love and respect over LOVE.

    So, kudos to you for sticking up for what you believe in, to your parents. That takes courage and you know, they may not always agree with you, but they will ALWAYS love you.

  18. As the daughter of two conservatives (one a straight-ticket Republican); I definitely understand how you feel. I'm sorry there seems to be a considerable amount of tension as a result of the differences among your family, and good for you for standing up for yourself!

  19. Good for you in standing up for your views! And today is election day so hopefully the worst of it is over!

  20. oohh i'm hoping you have a much better day today =)

    i felt so badly for you through twitter, but i didn't want to keep asking you what was going on.

    sending you good thoughts today.

  21. I am sorry that your family was not very understanding. I have had to be very firm with friends and family members about not sending me ridiculous political emails. They have all (eventually) forgiven me, but it sucks to feel judged by people you care about.

  22. Hi girlie ...
    I just emailed you ... but I wanted to add that I'm glad your coworker tried to make things as un-awkward as possible (does that phrase even make sense?)... and yuck - crying headaches are the worst! ... Oh, and one more thing -- I think the email you wrote your parents was super nice and respectful, well thought out and very polite. ... Hmmm. Maybe your mom will help change your dad's opinion so he will show that he's proud of you and respects your opinions ... I wish you the best of luck regarding your relationship with your family over politics. Much love to you! XOXO

  23. You are awesome for sticking up for yourself. This is almost over! I hope you feel better after speaking your mind. Parents are just Parents, they will always think they know what's best for us. I'm pretty sure there was no harm intended. Have a great day!!

  24. hey guess what? i'm sure you are a beautiful crier. i'm so proud of you for standing up for what you what and what you believe in when you were up against your family. i always have the hardest time when it comes to my family, they intimidate the crap out of me and i don't like conflict very much.

    brightside? tomorrow, it's all over. i am the ONLY person in my family to vote obama, and it's a real shame. they are so closed minded and so set in their ways to only vote along their party lines that they never even took a look at the big picture. they all told me i was a "follower" and that obama was a "cult leader". not fair.

    chin up girl, i hope today is an amazing day for you... we're making HISTORY!


    ps. online friends? BEST. EVER. i don't know where i'd be without all of you guys!

  25. I know exactly what you mean!! i'm not a pretty crier either, LOL... and today was a rough one for me also... we'll get through it!!

  26. I agree! The great thing about this country is that we CAN have different opinions, so we need to learn how to respect other people's views, even if they are different than ours!

  27. I am sorry to hear that your dad’s response was not what you had hoped for and that it hurt you so much. It is hard to be on opposing sides from your parents in any situation, but especially in politics during an election year. I am happy, though, that your mom validated your feelings and point-of-view, even though hers was different, and that you have your sister to talk to. Hang tough and stick to your convictions. I know I’m a stranger, but I feel certain that your online friends are proud of you for standing up for yourself to your parents without being disrespectful. This too, shall pass.

  28. Oh, hugs hon!!! I have so been there with my dad, and after last night, all I can say to him is take THAT! And of course, now I hope the next four years don't prove me wrong ;)


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