My brain is not working, that’s my problem. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a pretty deep hole of depression, low self esteem, or hyper-protectiveness to where anything I try to do that even remotely resembles work is a huge hurdle. Anything that has drama, misunderstandings, unkind behavior and the like makes me want to flee, and it’s spilled over into my volunteer work the most. It’s hurting my head to write this, but I’m going to, anyway. Someone has to say something, and perhaps if it’s me, I’ll feel better and more like keeping on.
What’s happened is that one of my “triggers” has been triggered. It bugs me, because I’ve worked really hard to get past it, but I’m getting the idea that I didn’t get past it; rather I buried it. I’ve talked about my issues with La Leche League before, but I’m going to briefly re-hash a bit to explain why I’ve been so messed up for the past month or two.
First, I love the friends I made in LLL. Love them to pieces. They are some amazing people. But, the organization itself keeps repeating its mistakes, as if no one learns from history (which is probably true). In a majority-women organization with a strong, focused mission, many people get “power” for the first time. And it really screws up some people’s senses of right and wrong, and for some reason empowers them to bring new things into the mission (like natural childbirth, co-sleeping, baby wearing, etc.)
What’s bad is when people who are in the organization don’t come along with the peripheral issues, or as we used to say are not “More League Than League.” In my time, the issue was an alternative way of running organizations, called “chaordic,” which, by itself, was a fine thing. But, members who weren’t comfortable with organized chaos and self-organizing got marginalized and eventually removed for complaining. It was horrifying to see people I cared about turn into the chaordic police. It scarred me.
Ever since then, I tend to go back into a protective shell when I see evidence of this kind of behavior. These days I see it a lot in people who care deeply about racism, sexism, and LGBTQ+ rights. Some of them seem to spend more time telling people who basically agree with them and support them they aren’t “good enough” allies, members of their own groups etc.
I read a post on Facebook today, by a wise member of the fiber arts community who is on a similar journey to mine:
What’s the point of being a ‘voice for change’ when we see that as an opportunity to turn on anyone who even slightly differs from our own ideas about what is right… especially when we’re essentially on the same side?Benjamin Levisay, Facebook, May 13, 2021
I can just see some people I’ve encountered lately jumping all over him, even though he’s spot on, in my opinion. And those people I’ve encountered are current LLL members who believe that their, and only their, idea of how to be anti-racist, advocate breastfeeding, and support parents is correct. I wish I could feel that way, but I’ve been proven wrong, learned from my mistakes, and revised my views too many times to think I’m the all-knowing expert on any of this stuff. Benjamin speaks for me here:
A little humility and understanding of our place in a conversation goes a long way. I know that my job is to listen and learn… and to work toward being a better ally. I don’t believe that being an ally is about calling out every little thing that you see. That is called virtue signaling. And I think we all should know the difference at this point.Benjamin Levisay, Facebook, May 13, 2021
Yes, dude! This takes me back to the blog post I wrote about cancel culture and meeting others where they are rather than putting them down. I can’t figure out why people aren’t willing to meet others where they are on their journey, share information that might be helpful, then support them as they work for a better world, even if imperfectly. What’s so hard about THAT? I guess it doesn’t make one feel superior and virtuous if you admit there’s more than one way to be a good person. Thus, I feel surrounded by people focused more on virtue signaling than actually accomplishing anything.
THIS is the thing that’s sent me downward, though. Just seeing how little the power-hungry at LLL has changed, makes me simply not want to be a part of the organization, even on the periphery. That’s completely screwing up my participation in the Friends of LLL organization, which is purportedly just to be a group for friends who support the mission of LLL, but aren’t involved in its current issues. It turns out that I was wrong about thinking they were separate enough from the current organization that I could enjoy the good parts without the cruelty rearing its head.
I can’t even bring myself to do my job, which is writing a perky newsletter, because I don’t want to offend someone and bring more meanness in. Yep, that’s a mental health problem all right, and all in my own head. Don’t I know it! I don’t need to hear, “That’s not true, you’re making this all about you,” or all these perfectly reasonable and correct things. I know I’m making mountains out of molehills, but it’s still up to ME to pull myself out of this ridiculous mental state and find my center again, because it’s making me unable to do blogging for the Master Naturalists, who aren’t a cause of my issues other than being a volunteer organization that I took a leadership role in.
The worst part is I HATE not following through on commitments and feeling like I have let people down. Argh. They rely on me!
There. I bared my soul. And I think I also have a message for people who are putting down their own supporters and friends for not being liberal enough, antigovernmental enough, BLM enough, or trans friendly enough (to name only a few things). Please DO share your views and information on new and current ways to be a caring advocate or member of a group. But also, please LISTEN to people who have had other experiences, from another generation, or from another “branch” of your group. Sharing information, listening, and meeting others where they are might get you farther than name-calling and belligerence.
I promise to try to learn from those of you who believe that the aggressive way is the best, to see how that works, and to meet you where you are.
That is, I’ll do that after I get back to feeling smart, competent, kind, and caring. I will get back to appreciating who I am and not letting the views of others affect who I see in my mirror.