Thursday, June 12, 2014

That amazing thing I alluded to...

So the other week on Facebook I alluded to being a small part in a very wonderful thing. Now that I've taken some time to mull over it I think I can share a bit of my thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes, I get really down on the world. I think people are just selfish, unfeeling and cold. That no one cares much about anyone outside of their immediate small circle. I feel like I see it daily in the news, on Facebook and all around me. It breaks my heart. The other day I was reminded that I was wrong. Thank goodness.

To be honest (which if I can't be honest on my blog where the heck can I be) I have been incredibly depressed these last few months we've been in China. I'm lonely, (love ya Chad, but I'm an extrovert) I've been sick almost constantly and I just want to leave. I have been thinking about how the $760 plane change ticket might be worth it. A year is a long time to spend in a random Chinese town. Anyway, right at the depths of the depression someone named Ben posted in the Expats Facebook group for our city that they had a very weird request, but these two guys were in the area and they were looking for two girls to pose as their girlfriends because they were going to visit a friend from Vietnam (named M) who had been trafficked to a place nearby.

I thought, "how could I not help?" I had to be a part of that. As you know, I am very concerned with women's issues in the world. I think trafficking is one of the saddest things that happens in our world. You can read more of her story here but the short story is that she lived near the Vietnam-China boarder which is where Ben first met her. He got to know her and communicate with her in simple English a couple years ago. He later found out she was taken from her village and eventually "married" a Chinese man. His goal was to meet up with her and help her. However, because her "husband" is jealous he wanted girls to go with him so the husband didn't think Ben was a past lover or anything.

So I ended up going with Ben and his cameraman Moreno to meet up with M. It was, sadly, a very short meeting, but she was amazing. You know when you meet someone and they just light up your soul? M was that type of person. Even though she's been through so much she was so happy and smiling bright. Her face will forever be burned into my brain when I think of the word hope.

She has a child with her "husband" here in China and she has decided that even though it may mean leaving her she is ready to go back to Vietnam. It's obvious that it was Ben and Moreno's love that helped her make that difficult decision.

To just be a witness to these two men and see how much they cared about M. It was indescribable. They did so many things just to make sure she knew people cared and have helped her in so many ways. Their joy in finding her and being able to see her. It was amazing.

I still can't correctly put into words the feelings of the day, and I don't know if I ever will be able to, but to see the joy on everyone's faces during their reunion- that was amazing. I think people underestimate the power of love. Ben's love for M, and his distaste for the horrid situation we put others in helped make the world a little bit better. It was obvious that Ben's love for M kept her strong and helped support her through all of this.

It's powerful, the feeling that someone, somewhere cares about you and worries about you and thinks about you. I think it can help someone find strength even in the darkness.

To even be a small part (the smallest part in the world really) of this story fills me with joy. I look forward to the day when M is back in Vietnam with her family, starting her life over again with that radiant smile on her face.

Cheers to people in the world that care.

P.S. my depression has subsided a bit, and I think it's directly related to M and her spirit.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How I do Michelle style empathy

I am a very empathetic person. That sounds like a weird brag, "I am great at really feeling bad/sad/mad/happy for people", but I really am. I hate the idea that we can't brag about what we are good at in our society.

I say this, but I also make fun of Chad when he brags about being super smart... I'm also a hypocrite. But, really when I make fun of Chad I will admit it is because I am 100% jealous. Maybe like 110%. I have never dated a guy I considered smarter than me till Chad. (Sorry any exes out there reading this... but really why are you reading my blog you creep? I don't do friendly breakups so you are straight up trespassing on my life right now.) Alright now that they're gone- back to me...

So empathy. One of the ways I have learned to increase my empathy is to imagine myself in their shoes. Sounds easy right? Well I am an emotional roller coaster of a human so when I get in other people's shoes I get really upset if people aren't treating them kindly. 

For example, I never really understood trans-gender people (still can admit that it's a hard thing for me to grasp and I always worry about offending.) Anyway, didn't really get it. I mean I've been a tom boy and there are some out there that think I've been an insanely girlie girl (I do not count myself among that thought) but never have I thought- "I should have been born a boy". Unless, of course, I have to pee in the woods, then I wish I was, but just because I am no good at squatting. When that passes and I get free dessert from some waiter I am so glad I'm a girl.

Anyway, one day I was thinking about the current state of my hair. I made a simple developer error with the hair dye I brought to China and my hair is significantly close to my natural color and significantly farther from my preferred color.  Here's the thing, I truly believe I was meant to be a blonde. Most people are surprised to find out I'm not a natural blonde when I confess I am not. Even with horrible roots there is surprise. I was meant to be a blonde. Now, I am barely a blonde. And life doesn't feel right. I don't feel right. And one day I realized this must be a small small small comparison to how trans-gender people feel. They don't feel right in the sex they were born in. I get it, maybe I don't get it as much because hair is seriously more trivial than body, but I understand the feeling that your body doesn't display who you truly are.

So that's how I  build my empathy. 

So now, I feel I can relate to people addicted to drugs. (As with the blonde/trans-gender thing it will be to an n-th degree, but still), I have decided my addictive drug is Twilight movies. 

Here's the reason why. I know they are bad. I know they are no good for me, but I still can't stop. I sometimes get thinking, I would like to view one of the movies. And when I do, it's good for a bit. Then I realize that I am wasting my time and money on trash. I vow I won't do it again. I assume it will stick, then something happens and I think maybe I should watch them again. And I do. And I regret it. I vow to not do it again, then I hit another trigger, and I crave it again. It starts out innocently enough, for instance, this time all I was doing was looking for music videos to play for my Chinese students during break. I always try to find a somewhat popular, current song with a PG video. So I click around on YouTube and start watching music videos, and I come upon a song I love. I click and what is in the video but scenes from Twilight. Sigh. It's around me and I can't escape it. 

I need help.

Trigger warning: Twilight movie scenes are in this music video.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sometimes I care too much....

Sometimes I really think I care too much. It's a burden. Let's be honest we all have a friend on Facebook who we roll our eyes at when they post something about their pet thing. Maybe we get angry they post something AGAIN, maybe we laugh because they're posting something else. Maybe we just roll our eyes and unfollow them. I worry I am that person in all my friend's feed. My pet subject? Feminism. 

I really wish I didn't care so much. I think life would be so much easier. Sometimes I get so jealous of my apathetic friends. The ones who just don't see the injustice or just don't care. 

Sometimes it spews out past the general feminism issues into what (I hate that it is called this) some call "humanist" issues. When I see people being marginalized; I care. When I see people deciding to vilify someone because of their beliefs; I care. When I see someone post almost ANYTHING from Mr. X's blog; oh boy I care. (But really because his entire blog is one big straw man fallacy and people think it's the gospel) (Also I'm not telling you who because I don't want him to get ANY traffic from me.)

I will however encourage you to visit the site this gem came from. Dinosaur Comics

After getting so upset (AGAIN) I wonder what it's like to not care. I'm sure Chad would appreciate it since most my yelling gets directed at him. The thing is, it's not that I don't want to care, I do, I just don't want to care so much that hours late I'm still stemming (and end up yelling). So this isn't a plea to help me care less. 

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by my caring that I force myself to care less. I force myself to give up. To think that it doesn't matter. I won't be able to make one person change. That it's pointless and I should just accept that life will never be fair. But why should I? Why shouldn't I fight the good fight to get us a little closer to the ideal? Why is it such a horrible thing to want people to be kinder, less judgmental, more welcoming and open? That's why I care about women's issues or LGBT issues. (are their more letters now? I feel like the other day I saw like 5 more on the end. That was new for me) 

Heck I even care about the mommy wars stuff. I mean hypothetically I will have children one day. I am CERTAIN people will judge my parenting style, which I assume will be an odd mixture of a Tiger Mom, Hippie Mom and Pinterest Mom. (Are those real mom "types"? Should their be types?) So my kids will end up passing out organic granola at their 5th piano lesson of the week while inviting their friends to their insanely decked out St. Patrick's Day party.  It's gonna be an awesome life for _______ McCombs and ___________ McCombs. But your kid might not like it. I don't judge you, don't judge me. 

(Note: I try not to judge)

So sorry to my 3 readers if all my posts make you react like I mentioned in the first paragraph, about 50 topics ago. 

I think I need to find a job that is great for people who have seriously high levels of empathy. Preferably ones that don't require more school. If you have a genius idea let me know!