Micro-abrasions

Reader, be aware:
This is not an accusation. It is a minority view of social process. It is a view from marginalization and alienation. No apology is needed and might just be inappropriate. Saying sorry may be appropriate. I don’t know.

I have been thinking of PTSD in ordinary life.

People have been talking about what they call microagressions. These are outright offenses or things that we take offense at, that we feel attacked by.

I have been thinking of another more widespread facet that I call microabrasions. These are things that rub you wrong, that abrade your best sense of self. You know these are just the way things are, the system. Even knowing it is improving however gradually, it still hurts.

Some of mine came from what I have freely chosen. I have chosen to go without television. It’s a sort of askesis. I was without it in the monastery and never really went back to it much, so I have omitted it from my life. I get my news from an online newspaper, my entertainment from reading. There is all that noise telling me I need things I don’t, and to want them even if I don’t need them. No thanks. Still I often find myself at a loss for what people are talking about, West Wing, Downton Abbey. You know all the names, you talk about them. My choice, no offense, but a loss.

I am childfree so I feel that I am not what society says I should be. So all the baby pictures, all the Facebook posts of how the kid is growing, learning, succeeding, school pictures, all the happy parents and grands. I feel left out of something, of a piece of creativity, of love. And of something I feel unfit for and resolved not to want in the first place. About 1960 my friend Ed and I decided that the world was so under threat from the bomb that we wouldn’t bring kids into the world to be destroyed. This was my choice, though as gay men, we really had no such expectations in those days. But still nuclear paranoia is another sort of PTSD.

I am family free and so again feel left out of family joys and fun, of family dinners, of the love and brother/sisterhood that family gives, of the support and critique implicit in family life, of being a parent, sibling, uncle, aunt, godparent. Once on Thanksgiving, one of our priests preached about how great it was to include singles in their family Thanksgiving dinners. I told him afterward I felt charitied on. Again a small PTSD speaksĀ and I had a larger from my own experience of family.

Consequently I am also single. So I am left out of loving sexual relationships I feel vaguely ineligible for and sometimes deeply in need of. The abrasion is seeing happy couples in church, one rubbing the other’s back.

Above and over all, for me at least, I am gay and so smacked in the face by heterosexuality, the assumed default state unless explicitly denied, happy couples who can show out their love when in many places I could not, had I someone to show it with, all those pdas. Then there is pop music, love songs, presumed heterosexual even if not explicit. And our summer show, with all the love songs. Sure you can translate them into gay terms “standing on the corner watching all the boys, watching all the boys go by,” but you have to watch more or less furtively. And anyway translation is itself a microabrasion. There are as well all the public slights, the contestations in the Anglican Communion, the contestations of politicians, and “Christians.” And then, Lenten self-examination reveals opportunities for love not taken, for fear of whatever, rejection, condemnation, or just plain unarticulated fear. So microabrasions, but not aggressions, just the way things are.

Let me say it again:
This is not an accusation. It is a minority view of social process. It is a view from marginalization and alienation. No apology is needed and might just be inappropriate. Saying sorry may be appropriate. I don’t know.

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