One thing I think most brain injury survivors can agree on is our inability to keep our opinions to ourselves. In all of the support groups, discussions, books, articles, YouTube videos and blogs, the one thing that connects us all is that we have to relearn to control our mouths all over again. For some of us it’s like starting from the age of 2 when our parents began telling us what not to say and for some of us it’s just relearning boundaries. I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t blurt things out uncontrollably, I have a decent idea of where boundaries lie and I can usually save myself (or others) by biting my tongue in time but there are times where things just run out of my mouth like a river held back by a weak dam; it’s just been waiting for one extra inch of rain or maybe a tree limb to fall into it and begin its trek toward my weak little twig and mud mixture of a dam. Sometimes, it’s all in the wording. I don’t realize I’m being offensive in a way that’s personally damaging to the individual I am speaking to. Sometimes, I don’t realize until days later what I have done and that’s unfortunate.
Three years post-stroke with no speech therapy to help me with socially important lessons like learning what is appropriate and when, I like to think I’ve been doing pretty good. I think I might actually be less offensive as a speaker now than before the stroke. I’m aware of my “disability” so I am always looking for it. Sometimes I am so focused on not offending people in one way, though, that I manage to offend them in another; this is very clearly a work in progress. From what I’ve learned, some people never relearn the skill to hold a conversation properly and for others it just takes time and lots of practice. What I find perplexing is that I feel kind of liberated because I don’t have chains binding me to what is acceptable and I can always just say:
Sorry, I survived a massive stroke, I’m still learning
But that is detrimental to the cause. What cause is that, Kt? Well, it’s the one that says, Our brain injury does not make us abnormal. We are normal, we are just different. I don’t really like this whole “I fit in with you guys” thing but most people with disabilities seem to want to be seen as “normal.” Using my stroke as a scapegoat isn’t cool no matter what angle you approach it from. But sometimes I am thankful for it to be there because there are things “normal” people aren’t “allowed” to say and I can simply because I have something to “blame” it on. That’s a lot of quotes, sorry about that.
I know I promised myself that I wouldn’t mesh my political mind with my blog but this just really irritated me so I’m going to share what happened and the reason for this obscenely long post.
Marvel came over to the house the other day. I just happened to be sitting in the kitchen with Kasper when Marvel showed up. There are topics we learned not to discuss together because we have such differing opinions. I prefer not to be labeled as anything but an individual and a voter but people have this whole blue vs. red thing going on so you kind of have to pick a side. Look at Bernie Sanders, an Independent yet he has to pick a “side.” He’s a Independent Democrat, or sides with Democrats on everything and speaks on their behalf. Look at Rand Paul, a Libertarian. They should be their own party, right? Yeah, they should but in order for him to do anything, he is basically a Republican first. I don’t know if that’s how it’s supposed to work but I’m just trying to point out that no matter how you say you view the political realm, from which seat you say you sit in, that seat is still right or left. Unfortunately, as independent as I want to be, I have been crammed to the left. To make things easier I will tell you I’m a Liberal or I’ll say Democrat…sometimes I’ll just say blue.
Marvel, I think he’s just an idiot but that’s my opinion. He’s not very well-informed yet he likes to talk like he is. This drives me nuts because what he is doing is sharing his opinion, which is totally cool, but he won’t let you share your own because according to him, his is FACT. This means that your opinion is wrong unless it sides with his. FACT: no opinion is ever wrong. It can be based on misinformation, but it is still your opinion and your opinion alone and therefore it can not be wrong.
Being a “Liberal” I’ve learned to just let some arguments slide. It’s taken a while because since the stroke I’ve become more hardheaded than ever before. My opinions aren’t really solid because I’m always reading articles, googling for more information on some topics and always updating my information. I have multiple sources, view issues from multiple angles and am open to dialogue with differing opinions so my opinions are constantly evolving. That’s why I like to think of myself as a sort of Independent rather than just a Democrat or Liberal or anything else. Hell, what if I like your Republican candidate better than the Democrat’s choice? I shouldn’t be forced to vote one way just because I’m registered as such. We should always have a choice.
When people start talking about their religion I usually shut down and start daydreaming. I’ve said before I’m agnostic and out of respect for those that have a deep faith in whatever or whoever, I feel it’s best if I just…don’t respond. I shouldn’t debate you on your faith because no matter what, you’ll think I’m trying to deny you the right to it or that I’m trying to downgrade it. I’ve had this conversation too many times to not know better by now. It’s best for us all to just not talk about it. BUT, when you start talking about people being antichristian and that’s why things are falling apart, you’re going to get my ears up. I kept quiet for a very long time while Marvel rambled on about the lack of Christianity in our schools and all this nonsense but then he started blaming it on Obama and his Muslim Brotherhood.
Okay, I read the articles. When I say multiple sources and angles, I actually mean it. I read Conservative crap links people post on Facebook and other social sites, I watch the Alex Jones videos you felt were important enough to share. I honestly think people like Alex Jones are kind of necessary in a society as large as ours. They keep us thinking, keep us aware of what might be possible. I think he’s full of crap but I don’t think he should be banished, ex-communicated, because the dude draws lines to dots that aren’t really there. He keeps people from becoming sheep…if only he could be less crazy about it I’d be a happier person. Because I do read and watch all these things even when I adamantly disagree, I can see why people have certain opinions; like, Obama’s a Muslim. I have no idea if he is or what. He can say he’s Baptist or Christian but is he really? I don’t pray with him, so how would I know? Marvel thinks that because Obama’s dad was a Muslim, so is Obama. Okay, it’s possible, but does it make him a bad person? Even Marvel had to answer no. Is there a law that says the President has to be Christian? No. So what’s the big deal if he is? Oh, maybe he lied to get more votes? No other president has ever done that? Did you ever stop to consider that you’re being lied to by a Christian just to fuel this growing hatred towards Muslims? What about the fact that MIL was raised Methodist and waited patiently for her mother to DIE so she could pick the church of her choosing (southern Baptist)? All I get is a head shake and a shrug. He says Obama won’t bomb ISIS because they are his brothers.
Dude, do you even news?
You can dislike Obama all you want, I’ll even listen to you explain to my why but when you can only list off things like “He’s a Muslim” or “He’s trying to take our guns” or “He’s trying to force us all to have ‘Obamacare'” I’m sorry, I’m not going to listen to you repeat shit you don’t even know the meaning of.
So there I was, holding my tongue between my teeth, trying my best not to speak. It wasn’t even my conversation, I was just in the room. I even tried to change the topic for the two men actually having the conversation. I opened my phone, started going through the news app and scrolling through Tumblr, Pinterest and Facebook for anything to talk about. Kasper was getting upset and Marvel just wouldn’t stop. And I was reaching a point where I would eventually start having to say something because it was becoming too difficult to remain quiet and keep my opinion to myself. When Marvel started going on about Americans being anti-Christian as if this was the reason for the weather being weird (instead of climate change), for deadly diseases spreading (instead of lack of access to healthcare or this crazy anti-vaccine movement) and for an abundance of gun violence (instead of weak and/or dwindling regulations and lack of mental health care), I really felt the veins in my neck throbbing. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he said we need more Christianity in our schools, politics, and society. So I finally asked him about the Satanic Church, what did he think of it? He just stared at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. I asked him if he understood the Hobby Lobby ruling; was he aware of the ten commandments statue in Oklahoma? I told him of the importance of keeping religion and state separate, he began to debate me but I wasn’t wanting a debate. I was just trying to highlight some points for him. I filled him in on the Ten Commandments statue, just being basic about the fact that it exists. I told him about Satanists plan to exemplify this, to exploit it. This stupid ass just wouldn’t listen to me! I wasn’t saying I agree with Satanism or anything! But he just kept going on about how Satanists murder and that’s why they can’t…. Finally I actually yelled at him “Shut the fuck up, for once, shut up and listen to someone!” He shut up.
I told him this:
By law, we are allowed the freedom to religion despite what the foundation of that religion may be. The advocation of murder by a religion is not against the law (is it?) but the action an individual takes is. Whether or not Satanism really does require murder is not what we are discussing. When the Ten Commandments statue was erected, what happened? A group of Satanists step forward and use this as an avenue to publicly display their own idol.
Right away Marvel started to declare this was pointless because Satanism is non-Christian and can’t do that. So I said, while yelling:
You are missing the point! You are defending discrimination. The law, the constitution allows us to freely worship who we want, when we want. When Christianity is thrust into the eye of the public and is represented in front of a state house, there is a major problem. There are too many people who believe different things whether it’s Satanism or a similar yet different branch of christianity. And
now this is where I reminded myself to control my mouth, I actively took part in what my brain was telling my mouth to do.
when one religion is given the right to display their belief on property provided by tax dollars then anyone contributing to those taxes paid-for property has equal rights to display.
again he tried to argue but I held up a finger and kept on
Whether or not you agree with said religion is completely, 100% irrelevant. According to law, one can not be discriminated against because their system of beliefs doesn’t comply with yours.
Do you know what this is?
Marvel says no.
This is what happens when other religions want the same rights as yours. Whether or not you agree with it, all religions deserve equal rights, just like people. If you want to display your beliefs in front of the state house, others will want to join too and so we have this.
To prove my point I went on about Hobby Lobby and the whole Obamacare/birth control thing. I first had to tell him what that was about. I told him the ACA (I have to say Obamacare to him because he doesn’t understand ACA, so you can now see what type of person we are dealing with), allows women easier access to birth control by mandating that insurance companies must include BC in their coverage. The ACA also mandates businesses with a certain amount of employees or more must offer affordable insurance to those employees and this insurance must provide the same access to birth control. Because Hobby Lobby is all about their religion, they feel they are exempt from this mandate and should not be forced to provide birth control to their employees because it goes against their religious beliefs. I didn’t even go into more detail than that, I left my opinion and all else completely out of that. He was nodding in agreement. So I then told him that Satanists are once again using this same religious exemption as grounds to excuse their followers from following state abortion laws. He gave me the blankest stare. So I went even further:
Are you against gay marriage?
Stammer, stammer, stammer. I know he is; he’s said he is against it before. So I skipped over the opinion and started stating my point anyway:
One reason some people say they are against gay marriage is because they believe it will lead from one sin to the next. First gays will marry, then people will want to marry their own kids, then their pets and one ridiculous thing after the next. Take that “logic” and apply it to this. You get one religion wanting exemptions from the law or special rights, you’re going to get another group and another wanting the same things for their own ideals. When you use law to provide rights to one over the other, others will use that same law as grounds for their own rights. So whether or not you agree with Satanists, they are right in proving this hypocrisy in our system.
I don’t care what anyone believes as long as you’re not forcing me to follow your rules. The law is all I care about. If I’m breaking it, are you breaking it and am I or others being hurt, abandoned or benefitting too greatly from any law?
This is why I don’t like to discuss these things with people I actually get along with. We all have different opinions and we are all entitled to them. If you feel mine is based on false information then I am wiling to listen to you explain to me why you feel this way. In turn, I expect the same respect and not to be belittled because of my own opinions. All in all, I walked away proud of myself. I don’t think I changed his mind about anything and I think he’s just stubborn enough to have not gained anything new to consider but I am happy that I was able to remind myself that my brain-to-mouth filter still exists, I might just need to readjust it every now and then. I still have the ability to learn to control this new aspect of myself. I’ve always been the “wrong” kind of vocal. I think the stroke may have provided me a new kind of vocal; whether or not it’s the “right” kind is hard to say right now. One thing I know for sure is that a lot of people appreciate this new side of me. I get praised all the time by my friends about my “ability” to speak my mind. They don’t understand why this is so “easy” for me and they often tell me they wish they could be so open and fearless. It’s not that I don’t have fear – there’s a reason this blog is anonymous and why I don’t have a blog just for politics, but it’s nice to get these compliments nonetheless.