A New Year, Mrs. Maisel, and My Own Personal Truth
So, it's January 8. It's not New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. It seems I missed the boat on posting my new year's resolutions to social media. I mean, really, I could just repost what I wrote two years ago. This year's the year I feel great about myself in a bikini! I'm going to get into shape and be healthy and organized and make gourmet dinners from scratch! I'm going to write what I really think!
Oof. Let's go back to that last one. Maybe 2019 really is the year of "personal truth."
Let's talk about "personal truth." To do that, we need to go back a bit. Circa 2005, I was outwardly a different person. I was still the same person on the inside, but saying anything that would upset someone was completely off limits for me. I felt conflicted even letting someone know they had spinach in their teeth. Things were happening all around me and I couldn't react to them out of fear — fear that I would hurt someone's feelings, fear that I would sever a relationship, or fear that — Heaven forbid! — someone wouldn't like me anymore. After years and years of bottling things up, I started to explode. (I famously threw a hairbrush at a college roommate one night. We're miraculously still friends.) I had to do something.
Lent was around the corner and a very good friend said to me, "You know what you should give up? Keeping your mouth shut! You should give up not saying your personal truth!" I thought about it and decided to take that challenge. Well, let's just say that it was a rough 40 days. If someone asked how they looked in an outfit, I told them honestly. Never unkindly, mind you, but I didn't lie. Not once. Even worse, my Lenten promise made me say what I thought even if no one asked. If I felt that I had to say something, then I had to say it. No more bottling up.
I would say that the Lent of Personal Truth hit a new high (or a new low, depending on who you ask) on a girls' trip during which I told a friend's husband that his definition of only being a father when it was fun for him (his words, not mine) wasn't going to cut it. My friend was livid with me. How dare I step into her relationship? He was indignant. After all, I wasn't a mother. What did I know about parenting?
Well, I had heard my friend, suffering from what I now think was most likely postpartum depression, horribly homesick for family, and with a husband who seemed blind to all of it. Who else was going to speak up for her? Everything in my core being said that I had to speak out. My Lenten promise required it, so I did.
What happened in that 40 days was that I learned the power of my own voice. I learned that it's okay to disagree. Sometimes you have to make a little noise to make a difference.
The next year, they moved closer to family. When she had her second child, he called me and asked me to check on her, saying that he was worried about how she was doing. Where he had been blind before, he was aware. I don't know if the conflict that I started was the catalyst for that move or not, but the end result was that she got the care that she needed. (Side note: Another friend on that same girls' trip adopted the "personal truth" mantra and uses it as a disclaimer before telling someone something no one else will. Example: "Hey! I love that sweater! Great color! Listen — personal truth! — you have an awful unibrow. Here's the name of my waxer." She's really taken it to a whole new level.)
So, here we are in 2019. I just semi-binge-watched the second season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" on Amazon Prime, only allowing myself one or two episodes every few days to stretch out the season a little bit. In the past two weeks, I've had multiple people tell me, "Tell me you're watching 'Maisel!' I think about you every time! You're like the non-Jewish Midge!" I couldn't be more flattered. The outfits alone! Swoon!
But honestly, what speaks to me most is Midge Maisel's fearless relationship with the truth, especially when she's on stage. I wish I could be that fearless. I recently found myself in a position where the smartest choice was to keep my mouth closed. So I did. But yet.
What I wanted to say is that you can't silence the truth. It will always come out. Look around. Things are changing. How many women (and men) found their voice in 2018 with #metoo? How many first-time congresswomen did we just swear in?
Yes, times are changing. Last year, I wrote more letters and made more calls to my senators and congressmen than ever before. 2019 brings two major battles to our community: one is to get a known carcinogen (EtO) banned from our state and the other is the fight for our schools' much-needed improvements. I'm sharpening my pencil. No, on second thought, I think I'll use pen. I'm here for the long fight.
And what of the other things I want to say? Well, I have ten completed posts that I didn't publish last year because of one reason or another. The publication delays all come down to one thing: fear. Is this too far out there? Am I shouting into a void? Will someone not like me if I hit "publish" on this?
Well, maybe 2019 is the year that I stop caring about any of that. Maybe 2019 is the year that I embrace ruffling some feathers. Maybe 2019 is the year that I grab the mic.
So, 2019, tits up.