Okay.

If you’ve been on the Living Differently Facebook page… you may have seen a bit of a conversation between my sister and I (on the last blog post about the art and the jobs).  A slight altercation, maybe.  A bit of a disagreement on her part… and an instant freak-out on my part.

Just to tell you a bit about my sister, Soo.  She’s 2 years younger than me… and can probably push my buttons more quickly and effectively than anyone on this planet (except – perhaps – for my mother).

Here are (some) of the areas where Soo and I are the same:

  • We enjoy a lick of sarcasm.
  • We laugh at dark humour.
  • We hate slapstick comedy.
  • We’ve both been divorced.
  • We’re both in love with big, hairy men with brown eyes and clever brains.
  • We enjoy (mostly) the same films.
  • We have a… problem… with the baklava cheesecake at Tashas in Hyde Park.
  • We both love our parents – and each other (in spite of all our differences).

And here are (some) areas where Soo and I are completely different:

  • Soo is atheist (I’m more of a romantic agnostic).
  • I’m married with kids (Soo is not married – but has been in a long-term relationship with Owen for a few years now.  Her animals are her kids).
  • I work-from-home and can’t stomach the idea of ever working for a boss (Soo works for a huge multi-national corporation in a job she genuinely enjoys).
  • Soo generally enjoyed her time at school and likes the idea of studying further (I absolutely loathed school… especially high school… and my idea of “studying further” is travelling, reading and my own personal research into topics that interest me).
Soo and I as kids. I'm the mermaid. Who'd have thought that cute, pink little doll could be so fearless?

Soo and I as kids. I’m the mermaid. Who’d have thought that cute, pink little doll could be so scary?

Possibly one of the biggest differences, though… is that I am a complete and utter Word Wuss (you can read more about the dreaded Word Wuss in the Illustrated Guide to my Personalities).  And I cannot abide conflict.  I deeply… deeply… hate conflict – and will usually do anything in my power to avoid it.

And I worry… incessantly… about what others might say or think about me.   And I worry about arguing… and fighting… and whether people will want to fight with me – and insult me… and not like me.   And – because of this continual, present, time-consuming, thought-consuming worry…  I tend to edit myself.  Bite my tongue.  Delicately hide-what-I-really-think.  Smile-and-wave.  Not speak up on something I feel strongly about.

And I add disclaimers.

The Word Wuss (if she could) would add a long list of disclaimers to every single blog post…  to every single Facebook post…. mostly in her attempt not to piss people off or start a fight.

Now… my sister… (who doesn’t seem to have the Word Wuss lurking in her inner psyche)… doesn’t give two steaming turds about pissing people off.  She cares nothing about starting a fight.  In fact – I think she quite enjoys a nice fight!  Most of her Facebook status updates are statements just…. begging…. for a fight!  Almost like… lots of mini invitations to fight!  Like she’s saying:  “C’mon… I dare ya!”…

Soo once threw her popcorn box at the head of a movie-goer, 2 rows in front of her, because he wouldn’t stop talking during the movie.  When the box hit his head, and when he stood up and angrily spun around to confront the box-thrower… she stood up too and hissed:  “Next time it will be my fucking shoe!”

He sat down.

And kept quiet for the rest of the movie.

See… I am not Soo.

I am the person who just sits quietly and passively next to the obnoxious, noisy movie-goer…  silently steaming… fuming on the inside, mute on the outside.  Rude movie-goers get away with their rudeness because of people like me.  People like me, who don’t speak up.  And – to be honest – I am really beginning to tire of my wuss’ness… of my reluctance to speak up.

I am this:

word wuss

A big part of me admires Soo’s temerity.  Another part of me is scared for her… (and sometimes, of her).  I mean – what if popcorn-man launched himself at her?  (She was, after all, much smaller than him!).  I worry that the crazy chick that she was fighting with on social media a few months ago is gonna physically hunt her down and knife her in the guts (Soo has, after all,  attracted a few stalking lunatics in the past).

And she has lost more than a handful of friends over the years (and gained more than a handful more)…. (Actually, I think many of her friends delight in the fact that she comes out and says stuff that they’re all too chicken to say themselves – but are thinking – nonetheless)!

As for me, I tip-toe neatly around the friends and Facebook acquaintances I DO have.  I wrap them in tissue paper…  too wary… too wuss’like… to call them out occasionally (on things I disagree with)…  for fear that they’ll hate me forever – or – worse – say hurtful things to me.

I am very… very… very…. SUPER-sensitive to Words.  Especially hurtful words.  And insults.

And I try to do anything and everything in my power to avoid the possibility of a mean word being tossed in my direction.  I’ll do anything to avoid a war of words.

As it is, I’m a pacifist who hates war.  I also hate warring with words.

Okay… so back to the disclaimer thing.

Soo thinks I add too many disclaimers to my posts (and to my life).  She says I must stop.

She’s probably right.

But it’s HARD for me not to add disclaimers…. (in the case of this particular post, I would like to add a disclaimer that reminds everyone that I love my sister and this is not an attack on her character! )…

But, if I don’t add my disclaimers, I keep thinking things like this:

  • “But what if they misunderstand what I’m trying to say?  I don’t want people to misunderstand me!”
  • “But what if they think I hate them?”
  • “But what if they think I’m angry with them?”
  • “But what if they think that I think that I’m better than them?”
  • “But what if they think that I’m trying to say that MY way is better than THEIR way?”
  • “But what if they’re just not *getting* me – or getting what I’m TRYING to say?”

So… I keep adding disclaimers.  And tip-toeing… and watering myself down.

It’s quite pathetic, really.

So… in an attempt to take my sister’s advice and to cure my disease of “Disclaimeritis” (as she has called it)… this post is a list of the LAST DISCLAIMERS I shall make on Living Differently.  After this post, I shall try (really really really hard)… to be brave – and to speak my truth… and to stop fretting about being misunderstood or mis-read (or hated).

HAT’S LIST OF BLOG DISCLAIMERS:

  1. I neither want – nor expect – everyone to live the same as me… to believe the same as me… to make the same choices as I have.
  2. I love diversity – and I *like* the fact that the world is full of different people.
  3. This blog is my way of sending out a ping – and searching for a tribe… or looking for connections with people who resonate with me.  I am NOT blogging because I’m trying to “evangelise” My Way… or My “Truth”… or to try to convince others that they are “wrong” and that I am “right”.  For more reasons on why I blog, click here.
  4. I have NO intentions of attempting to convince or convert anyone.  You are all free to disagree with me entirely.  However, I only ask that if you DO take offence at what I write on this blog… that you respectfully just stop reading it – and please… please… don’t see yourself as The Great Corrector… as though you’re going to *correct* my erred thinking and set-me-straight.  Different opinions and respectful debates are one thing… people who view themselves as “Correctors” are quite another.
  5. Just because I educate my children differently to you, does not mean that I think you’re a bad parent for not doing things the same way as me.
  6. I absolutely *get* that there are many different ways to educate and raise children… and just because you’re doing something differently to me, does NOT mean that I think you are *wrong* and I am *right*.
  7. I very seldom view the world through the lenses of Right-or-Wrong… Good-or-Bad… Truth-or-Lie… Black-or-White.  I’m not as dualistic as that.
  8. Just because I hated working for a boss… does not mean that I think that everybody hates working for a boss – and that corporate jobs are *wrong* for everyone.
  9. Just because I hated school and loathed high school – does not mean that I think everybody hated school as I did.
  10. Just because I had some awful experiences with some school teachers – does not mean that I think all school teachers are of-the-devil!
  11. Just because I’m agnostic – does not mean that I hate or ridicule people of other faiths or belief systems (I love diversity, remember?)
  12. I know that Russell Brand and the Trews is not everyone’s cup of proverbial tea – and that’s FINE!
  13. Just because I moved away from the idea that The-Bible-Contains-The-Truth… or that The-Bible-is-the-Word-of-God… does not mean that I expect every other Christian to do the same.
  14. Just because I disagree with people – doesn’t mean I hate them… or even dislike them.  In fact, I have many people in my life (whom I disagree with on a deep level about something or another) – but I still think they’re awesome people and I enjoy their company.
  15. I don’t think you’re *wrong* because you’re not like me!!
  16. I don’t think “I’m Right” and “You’re Wrong”.  I just don’t process the world like that.
  17. I might rant occasionally about my childhood – but that does NOT mean that I don’t have the utmost of love and respect for both of my parents – who loved us deeply and did the very best (for us) that they knew how to do.
  18. I might rant occasionally about The Church.  This does not mean that I consider all Christians to be awful, hypocritical assholes.  On the contrary, I have many wonderful friends who remain fervent believers – and I hold absolutely no grudges against them for that.
  19. I respect your right to believe whatever you want to believe (and hope you will afford me the same respect).
  20. Just ’cause I hate slapstick comedy – I don’t expect everybody to hate it too… and I’m not saying that it’s *wrong*.
  21. Just ’cause I think olives taste vile – I’m not saying that everyone who eats olives are vile too (my Greek eats vile olives all the time)…. (being Greek an’ all).
  22. And… even after all my desperate attempts at being “heard” – and NOT being misunderstood…. if you STILL misunderstand me – and feel that my blog posts are deeply offensive – and some kind of personal attack on you – or your way of life.  I’m terribly sorry…  please feel free to click off this page – and read another blog which agrees with your sensibilities.  Peace!

Okay.  That’s it.  I’m done.  Disclaimers over!!!

If I start adding more disclaimers to future posts – please feel free (like Soo says) to call me out on it – and to remind me to stop being such a Word-Wuss!

I am now going to stick this Anthony Hopkins quote somewhere where I can read it (and absorb it) every single day:

“It is NONE OF MY BUSINESS what other people say about me or think about me.  I am who I am, and I do what I do.  I accept everything and expect nothing.  And it makes life so much easier”