Big Buts

I’ve seen the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure more times than I dare admit. Suffice it to say, I can quote it at will and ad nauseam. There is a scene where Pee-wee’s waitress friend Simone is talking about her aspirations and then adds the dreaded word. Pee-wee replies, “Everyone I know has a big ‘but.’ C’mon, Simone, let’s talk about your big but.” I’m going to pick up that tossed gauntlet and do just that, albeit not specifically Simone’s.

I had come to a place where I hated the word “but.” The word itself has multiple meanings and uses, and I don’t find all of them offensive. Truthfully, there are some that are valuable and necessary to convey a message. I’m perfectly content and on pleasant terms with the noun form, or its adverb and preposition alter egos. However my personal struggle and thoughts for this missive are all about the conjunction. (Cue the music from SchoolHouse Rock for all of the readers old enough to remember “Conjunction Junction.”)

You’d think that a conjunction that is only three letters long would have little impact on the world. In fact, it can have as big of an impact on our psyches and self worth as the Kardashian versions of butts have on pop culture aesthetic.

Our brains are almost perfectly trained to hear the word “but” and effectively cancel out everything said prior to its utterance. It doesn’t matter how effusive or uplifting the previous praise had been, it’s now been flushed down the mental commode and the swirl of neurons has the same dizzying effect as watching the real-life water vortex.

We are now waiting on tenterhooks for the crux of the conversation, or what we see as “the truth.” Often times, however, the truth was actually what preceded the word and everything that comes after is merely opinion or perception.

One of my least favorites of the big buts is, “I adore you, but…” I’ve actually said and typed this as much as anyone. Often times I use it in a joking manner, or sometimes to soften the edges of what I’m about to say. Until you’re on the receiving end of the phrase, you can be unaware of the magnitude of its capabilities.

In essence, prior to the “but,” you’ve just prepped someone to hear what many of us long for and receive less often than we need…positive validation. Then immediately after, it is snatched away like a perfectly wrapped present shown to you, yet meant for a receiver other than you. A completely fictional receiver that our brains manifest and perceive as more worthy than we are.

That circumstance has a way of emotionally reverting us to our past failures. Moments where we fell short of living up to the expectations of someone we were trying desperately to please or impress. It’s the embodiment of our missed opportunities to be seen as achievers, or to feel like we’ve actually figured this “life” thing out for a change.

When we realize, however, that everything following that little word doesn’t have to be taken in as immutable fact, we can free ourselves from the mental prison in which we placed ourselves. We are the possessors and rightful owners of that key. Confinement has been self-imposed because, for whatever reason, we found the speaker’s perception of us more valid than our own knowledge of ourselves.

The perceptions of others can be helpful. In unknown territory they can be guideposts of experiences we’ve yet to have. We just need to take them in knowing that no two lives are exactly the same. We’ve all been moulded by our pasts. With each new day and experience we transform and adjust to what works for us. If you think of the number of encounters you have in one day alone, then multiply that over the days of your lifetime, you can understand how no one can know you or know what works for you better than yourself.

So, the next time you encounter a big “but,” remember that you have the choice to imprison yourself or to leave the door unlocked and wide open. Take every thought said after as was likely intended…advice or experiences of a completely separate and distinctly different being than you. If it works for you and helps you grow, take it in. If it doesn’t though, don’t bind yourself in it and devalue your worth. You have the power and the key…no ifs, ands, or big buts.

Ranting and Raving

There’s an irony and also hypocrisy in blogging your own rant about the ranting and raving of others. Trust that I’m fully aware of that fact. I’m doing so, however, in the hope of starting real dialogue among my friends I’ve met through the internet.

We’re all aware that Twitter can be an overtly hostile environment. You’d be hard-pressed to come across another user who hasn’t been subjected to trolling of some sort. This missive isn’t about trolls as much as it’s about group-think with no room for dissent or alternate viewpoints.

I’ve never been the type of person to expect people to agree with me, because I learned long ago that my brain works differently than the brains of many others in my life. Maybe it’s that trait that makes agreeing to disagree easier for me. I view social media as a platform of opinions. People can say whatever is on their minds.

Like everything in life, that comes with ups and downs. The upside is the ability to be authentic and uncensored; saying things our personal bubbles or society has deemed the unspeakable. The downside is that we are often floored by what people really think and believe when we read it. Words can trigger emotions in readers that instigate fight or flight responses.

The flight response is to scroll on by or block. The fight response is to speak out and condemn whatever rhetoric has triggered us. The thing I’m realizing is that there’s a third response that’s rarely employed. And that’s to take in the message, learn what you can about a person and sometimes learn something about yourself in the process.

I’ve never been a fan of “teams” when it comes to interactions with others. I think boxes and cliques tend to isolate us to our own detriment. Disagreeing in one area doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from each other in another.

The propensity toward a “cancel culture” and silencing everyone who doesn’t think or act like we do leads us down the path towards echo chambers. Be it the “Ok, Boomer,” dismissiveness or a call to attack a specific user in general, it’s shutting down dialogue. When you only hear the sound of your own thoughts and perspectives coming back to you, you run the risk of never learning anything new or hearing ideas that might change your thinking.

Everyone has the right to self-protection. I’m in no way saying people should subject themselves to outright abuse. My own block list is testament to that. There are definitely toxic people in the world that we need to avoid for our own sanity. But toxicity is in the eye of the beholder.

More than once over the past few weeks I’ve been put in the position of being stuck in the middle of spats between friends online. I’m not a referee, nor do I play one online. Unless I see what is a clear misunderstanding on one of my own posts, I stay out of it. My silence isn’t complicity. My silence is because it’s not my business.

There have been multiple occasions in my eleven months on Twitter where I have specifically told people not to fight on my behalf. The biggest reason behind that is that rarely does it do anything other than escalate a situation. There is enough contentiousness to be found without adding to the mix.

This whole discussion is by no means me telling anyone how they should act or what’s good for them. We all need to make our own decisions about what is acceptable in our world and on our timelines. What it is, however, is a plea to my friends to not force their choices or issues upon others. You may be proven correct in the long run about your thoughts and opinions. There’s a chance though that what wasn’t good for you may have other enlightening benefits for others.

We all grow at our own pace. Lessons learned through experience often lead to a deeper understanding than shutting our ears off to them altogether. Do you, and allow others to do them. Good friendships allow each other to grow without expecting your friends to grow in exactly the same way as you. The best friendships occur when you’re given enough space and can enjoy each others’ lights.

When Real Life And Reality TV Collide

You’ll learn as we go along that my TV tastes hover mostly in the world of dramatic (some might say “trashy”) reality or true crime. This week, my real life collided with what I was watching play out on Vanderpump Rules.

For those not familiar, Vanderpump Rules (or “Pump Rules” as it’s better known in the hashtag realm of Twitter) is a reality show on Bravo. It’s centered around a group of friends who work for restaurateur and philanthropist Lisa Vanderpump. They work primarily at SUR, but since the inception of the show she and her husband Ken Todd have created other venues included on the show, such as Pump and TomTom.

Over the past eight seasons we’ve witnessed the dramatic relationships between the cast including cheating scandals, birthday meltdowns, couplings and conscious uncouplings, and a veritable river of alcohol flowing throughout. Up until now my viewing has been from entirely voyeuristic perspective into lives I found completely dissimilar, albeit entertaining, to my own.

That changed this week when Ariana Madix discussed her history of depression with Lisa Vanderpump. As Ariana spoke of her experiences, her words resonated with every core of my being. Despite not always being a fan of hers, I discovered a new kinship and was happy to see the real life struggle being tackled on what had previously been a fairly innocuous platform.

The next morning I signed on to Twitter with the excitement of a child blessed with a snow day, anxious to capitalize on the moment and to continue a much needed dialogue. Imagine my surprise and dejection when the first tweets I stumbled across were ones mocking Ariana’s experience or dismissing it as fake. I was gutted.

Twitter can be cruel in general, with the ability to say pretty much whatever you want without consequence whether it’s fact-based or not. This seemed especially cruel to me, likely because my brain translated it into a personal attack.

When I received my diagnosis I was advised by my doctor to share it with everyone in my world. He told me that too many stay silent because of the stigma of mental illness. I took his advice and was flabbergasted by some of the responses I received by people I loved, who I knew loved me in return. They varied from “That can’t be right, you’re one of the happiest people I know,” to “you just need more sleep.” It was then that I became aware of how truly misunderstood depression is.

My first responses to the tweets of the arm chair psychologists were outrage and a renewed sense of shame. Those quickly fell by the wayside and I chose instead to focus my energy on educating those who lack the experience to know of what they speak.

When people who haven’t experienced it hear the word, they almost immediately associate it with sadness or the inability to be happy. It does manifest as sadness with some, but it can also display itself as irritability, a tendency to withdraw, anxiety, sleeping too much or too little, and even physical aches and pains. Increases or decreases in appetite and energy are also manifestations.

Most doctors will start you on some form of SSRI medication that increases seratonin levels which in turn increases the transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs don’t work for everyone, however, and there’s no concrete evidence to show how or why the imbalance occurs. Basically it’s a trial and error method of treatment that can take several tries to be effective for some.

I’m not an M.D., I’m a housewife and run of the mill human who is learning to deal with my new normal. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, don’t take my word for it…consult a professional. There is hope to be had and the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t have to be an oncoming train.

The Adventure Begins

Whisperings of @HWsWhisperer

Welcome, my friends, to the blog that never ends. I’m so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside.

I appreciate you stopping by. I’m about to start a blogging journey into the world of reality TV, coping with depression, life as a real-life housewife, and occasional images that I capture as a hobbyist nature photographer. If that sounds eclectic and all over the place…welcome to my mind.

I hope you’ll join me on this adventure, even if it’s only for the topics that interest you personally. Grateful, to be honest, that you found your way here and were willing to take the time to see what it’s about.

Stay tuned for updates, or better yet, subscribe so they come directly to you! Wishing you a blessed day!

A little bit about me..

In real life I’m a total introvert. Online I’m a does-she-ever-stop-typing-or-shut-up extrovert.

I’m a full time housewife, part time blogger, mom, grandma, hobbyist photographer, and reality TV obsessed hermit. I started recapping reality TV years ago with an audience of one…my best friend Fairy. She encouraged me to share my thoughts on a message board we both frequented and it was fun while the show lasted.

Cut to a decade and a half later and she dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of Twitter. I owed it to her as recompense for my similar act of dragging her into the world of Real Housewives when RHOC first aired.

Little did she nor I know what monster was in the making. I fell in love with Twitter and the chance to interact with fellow reality TV fans. My hermit-like life was now filled with friends from across the globe.

About 4 months into my Twitter journey a new, more personal journey arose. After three years of helping my husband through various medical issues, I was diagnosed with depression brought on by caretaker fatigue. My interactions on Twitter now included fellow sufferers and how we could help each other through.

As my follower count rose, I was also blessed to meet Brianna and Jordan, hosts of the Kiki & Kibbitz podcast. They blessed me with the opportunity to be a guest on their podcast and also to blog for their growing social media company.

This gave me a chance to get back into my passion for writing, and to share my thoughts and perspectives in a format that worked with my tendency to use eleven words when the same message could be conveyed in three. The lack of character restraints was liberating, but I wanted the ability to discuss real life issues as well as the drama of reality television. Hence this blog.

I hope it brings you some sort of joy, be it laughter, insight, or even just a momentary distraction from a busy day. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I hope to do you proud and keep you coming back for more.