Monday was a rough day in our household. I caught a terrible cold that came on suddenly after Sunday church services and ran roughshod over me until sometime Wednesday. But Monday was the worst. I was cold, achy, sneezy – everything NyQuil promises to eradicate. The worst part, though, is that I was dizzy. So Little Man was happily playing in his almost-too-small jumperoo and decided he was done. I got up to get him out, lost my balance, tripped, and fell. I avoided knocking down said jumperoo and the CD bookcase. I did that by twisting myself into an odd position and knocking my head against the wall. I pulled muscles in my neck and my shoulders.
It hurt. I cried. Little Man was upset because Mama was crying.
I posted on facebook that I was having a rough day. My friend whose son has been hospital-ill (see previous post) posted something like “hugs.” I replied that her life made mine look like cake; I was just indulging in some self-pity. She replied, “True, it’s not been my month, but that doesn’t make yours any less crappy.”
That has stuck with me all week. Her experiences do not define mine, and vice versa. Nor do they negate or invalidate mine. Because here’s the truth of the matter: we cannot understand each other’s experiences.
Let me say that again.
We cannot understand each other’s experiences.
You cannot understand my experiences in my life, even if we were there together, and I cannot understand yours. I can understand the facts surrounding an experience, but I will never know all of the significant little details that created YOUR experiences. I can’t know your thoughts…your feelings…your emotions. I can’t know what you felt, what you tasted, what you saw, what you smelled, what you heard.
So who am I to judge your experiences?
Who are you to judge my experiences?
I didn’t blog about National Adoption Month (November). I didn’t do it. Maybe I’m a bad adoption blogger, and if so, fine. But I didn’t blog about adoption last month because last year during November I was called all sorts of horrible names and flamed with all sorts of horrible comments. And I’m not so self-righteous to think that I’m high on the list of adoptive parent blogs that adoption rights advocates read. But I didn’t want to deal with it, just in case. I didn’t want to open up myself to the potential emotional abyss that was last November.
And I didn’t want to deal with it, because our society is so quick to judge and label and criticize and condemn and react. We don’t take the time to pause…to listen…to seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
The thing is…
Two people (other than myself and LM’s birthmother) know ALL of the circumstances surrounding our adoption: my husband and my best friend. I haven’t shared all of the details with anyone else (and I won’t, so don’t ask). Perhaps the lawyer knows….but even he wasn’t privy to our phone conversations, our emails, our time together in the hospital.
And because you weren’t there, you can’t know what it’s like to be me. You didn’t experience everything I’ve experienced in the past twelve months.
Nor have I experienced everything you have experienced in the past twelve months.
But that doesn’t make our experiences any less valid. It makes them different, not less valid.
Blogging is in and of itself an exercise in narcissism. We blog because we feel like we have important things to say. And most of the blogs I read do have helpful and important things to say. Even the blogs of people who have different opinions and experiences than me are helpful and important, if not to me, then to others.
What I fail to understand is why people attack one another’s blogs. Why do people read blogs of people they violently disagree with? We can’t understand what it’s like to be each other – we can only understand our own experiences and share them in an effort to help others understand. We can ask each other polite questions and inquire about their thoughts and feelings.
But we will never fully understand what it is like to be the person writing that blog post. So why does judgment enter into it?
Because we feel the need to invalidate each other’s experiences so we can prove that our experience is right.
That’s just plain stupid. And ignorant.
Our experiences are different – and always will be. But that doesn’t make us, especially as human beings, any less valid.
We are all different, but not less valid. Our experiences…our lives…our families…our jobs… all different. But all valid.
Or am I just crazy?