December 30, 2012

no, I'm not talking about you

I don't know if this will amuse or enflame, but I wrote this to the Around the Dinner Table forum today. I welcome your thoughts:

As my end-of-year, end-of-era contemplations continue, I thought I'd bring up the issue of disagreement between parents. I've mentioned before that in my history of ED activism it has not been debate with other activists or clinicians or patients that has caused me the most pain: it is with fellow parents. The nature of these disagreements have followed certain themes. As a new generation of parent advocates and activists come up, I thought I'd share some of the patterns:
  • One Note Sallies. I struggle with certain people who have only a single interest that blinds them to other issues, to hearing other people, or to the complexity of how their one note fits in the larger symphony. This singular focus can be positive (something that worked) or negative (the thing that did not). It is rarely convincing.
  • Confusion of people with ideas. Each of us is complex and very few of us share agreement on very many individual points. Befriending or making an enemy based on a single point of agreement is satisfying only in the moment, but keeps us from respecting one another as full individuals.
  • Time-freezing. We evolve as thinkers over time. We need to give ourselves and others the chance to learn, to develop, to change. What we see on a given day is only a single frame, and holding someone to the standard of a former POV is unfair. The point is to grow together.
  • Personalizing. It leads people to think that others are talking about them when they are not, or ignoring them when they are not. The truth is that most people are really thinking more about what they are themselves saying and not what others are saying or feeling. Sorry: it really isn't about "me." And no, I'm not talking about you.
  • Enemy by association. It is a depressing reality that people will hold you to the standard of your lowest common friendship. People who reject and ignore others for associating with the 'wrong' people with the 'wrong' ideas end up terribly righteously correct: alone in a corner.
  • Anger in the form of caring. The language of caring about others doesn't always mask the actual fury and intolerance driving the speaker. You know that cousin who ends her criticism of your lifestyle with "I just thought you'd want to know?"
  • Eating worms. I often hear from people that they feel no one supports them and that they are excluded and undervalued. I also note that these are the same people who: do not read what others write, do not FB/tweet/blog/review/forward/LIKE/comment on/laud other people's work, do not ask advice from others, do not remember the names or work of others, and don't like anyone else. There's a lesson there.
  • Data bullying. Listing data is not persuasive. Neither is listing credentials or personalized attacks. In an ideal world, this sort of bluster would simply be a poor reflection on the doer, but in our world we are far too vulnerable, deep into our learning curve, and all coming from a different intellectual background. Have you ever seen a really smart kid eviscerate a classmate with high-flown statistics above even their own intellect? It's like that.
  • Strategic lack of response. It's almost an art: the willingness to not respond to someone who has taken you seriously and bravely responded. It's brilliantly condescending to not  even bother to acknowledge it. I love this one. The lack of respect is dazzling. The moral superiority: bravo!
I'm sure I could come up with more (I've been at this for too long), but instead let me take time to laud those among us who do not fall into any of these traps. You may not even know who they are, because they aren't the flashy ones. Those who stay above the fray and remain steadily supportive and wise. I admire those who don't take the bait, don't pick their scabs, don't ruminate. I celebrate those with humility and a sense of humor. I am so grateful to those who truly listen, and genuinely care. I've managed to fall into almost all of the above bad traps, myself!

6 comments:

  1. You will be missed a lot, i have read that you want to persue other areas in life now and i wish you the best with that also. Are you going to continue to blog? How about the Feast facebook page what will happen with that? If you don't want to reply in this post, maybe a post letting all your followers know what to expect will be good.

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  2. LOL LOL LOL - guilty at one time or another of all of the above, except for "Slor"ing. Ain't no WAY I am disciplined enough to ignore - I do SO like to have the last word......

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  3. What about the Punctuation Correctors? I have to work v hard not to be one!

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  4. Working on a post about future, Anonymous.

    Charlotte, you deserve the last word!

    And I love Punctuation Correctors because they fix my TERRIBLE punctuation! (Also, Grammar and Spelling and Syntax and Link and Fact Correctors!)

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  5. I can imagine it is hard to not fall into the trap of those patterns when you have so much at stake, emotionally and mentally, as a parent/caregiver of someone with an eating disorder. It is like dedicating your life to something, you are more likely to fight tooth and nail until the bitter end and willingly ignore any contradicting evidence.

    I hope I avoid most of those, except probably "data bullying." I probably do that often.

    Great post Laura.

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  6. Laura, thank you for taking the time to share this valuable wisdom you have earned through your years of tireless activism for those impacted by eating disorders.

    These are valuable insights that frankly could benefit not only those fighting eating disorders as activists, providers, sufferers and parents but the world in general when we're trying to solve complex problems.

    We're all already seeing so much divisiveness on how to move forward to protect our communities from dangerous people with guns. It is my hope that more folks will try to avoid falling into some (or all) of these patterns you've addressed and see the big picture so we can have positive benefits.

    I also believe we must each take our egos out of the picture so we can be open to new research as it comes along. We have so very little research so far on eating disorders and there is more we don't know than what we do know.

    Thank you again for all you have done to help caregivers of those with eating disorders as well as the people who have these extremely misunderstood illnesses.

    Happy New Year and my best wishes to you on your next adventures.
    Becky Henry
    Hope Network, LLC

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