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Advocate or Quit?

Yes, I said I was going to quit dyslexia.  I meant that in the moment too.

Only a few saw my real outburst, and only a few others saw the physical ramifications the stress had on me.  Most were left scratching their heads asking what was happening, and if I’m honest I was scratching my head too.

So first, a confession.

The truth is I’ve come to the realization that I have always lived with an enormous amount of anxiety.  I’m good at swallowing it, hiding it, but the dialog inside my head is almost wholly negative and fearful.  I have never felt that anyone sees me as a good person, that anyone sees me as even remotely intelligent, that anyone sees me as being worthy of…well, anything at all.  I try to navigate life as a good person, adhering to my beliefs in how God would want me to behave, how I should be to honor Him.  I’m sure I’m just like everyone else when I say I feel like I fall short in every possible way.

I’ve always admired those who march forth with bold confidence with a “I dare you to tell me I’m not exactly who I think I am” devil may care type of attitude.  I’ve never understood how they keep their demons at bay, or even if they have demons at all who are telling them they aren’t worthy.  Maybe one day I’ll be bold enough to ask one of those people if that’s the case, though in reality I’m sure they’ll tell me they’re riddled with demons too.

Regarding being a public advocate:

I didn’t “enter the fray of dyslexia” lighthearted.  Innocent maybe, thinking people would come together all kum ba yah style, but I knew it would be a battle.  I just had no idea how great that battle would be, but my misperception wasn’t about the battle against education, but the battle within the “community.” 

You see, I’m always surprised when people are petty and ruthlessly mean.  The insecurity, damage, and small mindedness that makes someone that way always blows my mind.  This isn’t because I’ve been spared more than my fair share of petty and small minded abuse at the hands of others, quite the contrary, and that’s not to say that someone out there hasn’t accused me of exactly the same thing, I won’t kid myself about the monster that some people have made me out to be, but I think it’s because I just always think people walk into relationships and interactions with open and giving hearts and minds wanting to give, learn, help, be a friend, colleague, champion, choose whatever adverb / adjective you want, I’m just surprised.  Yes, I know that some people in the depths of their own damage can’t help but destroy the things they value, but that doesn’t mean that it never takes me by surprise. 

I’ve said that to say that I’ve been at this for five and a half years now, and while most of it has been good, what’s been bad has been really really bad.  I was surprised at how damaged some of the people within the community are, and it took me time to recognize that some of that damage is because of the harm inflicted onto our children, and how some people literally cannot cope with that harm.  I get that.  Watching your child break under the pretenses of a “generous and amazing educational establishment” is a chaotic destruction.  Too, if you were already a victim of that yourself, then it’s a double whammy of chaos and mal intent and the emotional scaring that comes with that reality.  For others though, they were already damaged by life, and then you add in the dyslexia equation, and then their pain is just magnified.

But some people, whether by choice or not, inflict their damage onto others.  When their pain is intense, when their scared soul is barely intact, the damage they can hurl at others is devastating.  Some of my friends and I have been on the receiving end of that from a few people, for a few years now, and the abuse doesn’t stop, it just keeps going.  We’ve walked away, blocked, cut ties, terminated all possible forms of communication, but the abuse keeps finding its way back to us.  We must stay diligent too, looking out for it, because we know it will keep coming.  This means we can never fully let it go.  That’s tiresome and soul sucking.

Then, if you’re a public advocate, you take heated statements from hurt people who cannot cope with the damage inflicted, and from teachers who feel attacked because you challenge everything about their existence, which you’re taking on top of your own child’s battle, and then….

…then sometimes you make a mistake.  Usually your mistake is innocently made, a misperception, a non-thing in your head, but that’s not the reality to the person to whom you’ve made the mistake against.  I can’t help it but that line from Batman keeps repeating in my head of “sometimes you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”  When people make you out to be the villain, are you?  Is that the truth, the reality of who you are?  To them, yes, you are the villain.  How do you reconcile that inside your own head when that’s not the perception you have of yourself?  Are you deluded, or are they mistaken? 

For most of this journey I’ve said I’m ok with the villain some people need me to be, but after enough years, I’m asking myself if that’s still true. 

But don’t forget…

We are in the fray for our own children too, seeking solutions and answers, fighting uphill battles against a corrupt system that would rather see our children die than ever do the right thing by them.  The infuriating thing is the right thing is so simple, so plausible, so doable, and it’s right there in front of them, yet they willingly choose not to.

I wanted to burn the world down this week.  Truly.  My son’s team cares, but my district’s denial of his needs is overwhelming.  He is 6 years behind in written expression and one of the main decision makers at the district sent a pathetic response to that reality.  Since I live in Texas everyone tells me I can’t win due process, and I don’t even know where to begin on mediation, or if that’s even a thing I want to pursue, but I am weighing what’s important for my child’s life, his mental health, his education and his future, and how that fits into our reality of the demands life has on us.  There are big questions that I’ve been pondering for years, afraid to pull the trigger, but if denial were a weapon, I was brutally beaten this week.  A friend watched me hold it together, but her words of solidarity threatened to break my rule of never let these people see you cry, and she couldn’t do more than watch in horror while they beat me with the weapon of denial.

And, I was already in a dark place.  Graham’s IEPs do that to me, and I’m not sure how many people even realize the depth to which this takes me, because I do try to hide it.  Then add in the F&P nuclear bomb and how that fueled my anger, and then the messages….  I didn’t get many messages when this bomb went off, but naturally some of the messages that did come in were filled with insults and anger.  That’s what being a public advocate means after all…you become the target of the abuse those with cognitive dissonance choose to aim for.  My favorite was that I was engaged in “sophomoric attacks” against such amazing, generous, kindhearted people and I was just a “troll.”

Collision

And, sometimes these things all collide at once and the version of me that emerges is never the same and I cannot predict the outcome.  This time I felt like I was down, the referee or whatever you call him was counting to 10, and I made a mistake and felt like as the mistake escalated, I was being executed, which was almost entirely inside my own head, but that’s what it felt like.  Yes, I contributed a lot to the more public aspect of that execution.  I did.  I own that.  But one statement emerged from the whole thing and it was that I had no integrity, and if you want to hit me where I live, that’s how you do it.  That’s my Achilles heel.  The statement that I had no integrity emerged from those who have been wanting to tear me down for years, and it was echoed now by someone new.  I owned my mistake, and I apologized, both personally and publicly, but does that even matter?  Does that change anything at all?  I doubt it, and that’s the reality.  Those that don’t want me here have a new ally, and they tell the world that I am evil.

Because life…

And, let’s just ignore the trials and tribulations of day to day life without the extra engagement of anything advocacy.  After all, we all live perfect, uneventful but amazing and blessed lives on social media, right?

Because in the end none of us knows each other’s realities or truths, what makes us tick, and who we really are.  Let’s not kid ourselves that we do.  A handful of people know the real me.  This here, this is an image, a construct, a mirage if you will, and the same is true for everyone else.

Conclusion

And the funny thing is I crave a quiet life.  I actually hate social media.  I’d like to delete all of my accounts and slip away.  It would be so simple too.  In less than 5 minutes I could be in a place where I do not exist in this space at all.  I’d go back to being nothing more than a wife, mother, daughter and employee, and that’s ok too.  What’s even more amusing about that is only a few people actually know how to get a hold of me.  Those are the ones who would miss me.  The rest would likely be grateful for my silence.

I didn’t set out to build or create anything.  Some people are going to scoff at that, but it’s true.  What my advocacy has become wasn’t by my design, but by accident.

If I stay in this space some things will change.  Only a small group of people will know what those changes are, but with certain things, on certain levels, I’m done.  I just am.  I have never been able to take responsibility for someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or actions, and I shouldn’t have to.  I am just me, living a small portion of my truth out loud, using that truth as my voice.  That’s how I started, that’s how I intend to be now, assuming I stay.

The part of our playing field which is a war between camps on our own side is a construct, and it’s destructive and does not serve our children, but certain pocketbooks, and nothing more.  The lies, indoctrination, cult-like behavior from some…yeah, done.  It’s toxic.  I’ll fight the war that’s been created, but I’m not dealing with the lies and the spins of those lies. 

So, if I stay, I’m just going to be me.  No one else, just me.  Like it or lump it, I’m done caring.  But I have to decide if I still have this in me.  When I think of stopping, I wonder if things will ever improve.  Asking that question is not me having a God complex either, but wondering if we keep silencing voices, will anyone ever win?  The truth is no, we won’t.  We’ve lost a lot of voices this year, people who like me reached a breaking point, and asked themselves if their hearts and souls could withstand more, and their truths were that no, they couldn’t.  I respect the hell out of the bravery of that choice too.  That’s not an easy choice to make.  As I stand here now trying to make the same choice, I understand that truth. 

For now, with the toxicity of the last few weeks purged from my body through migraines, tears and a lot of love from those who care about me, I sit and ponder.

Regardless of whatever version of me re-emerges on the other side…it will be my choice, my truth, my life.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

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