Tonight S-Boogie showed me a pink ball of fur she'd found in the toy box. She explained that it was a warm fuzzy, and that she'd gotten it from school. I vaguely remember hearing something about discussions they'd had at her school about warm fuzzies, and their archnemeses, cold pricklies, but I'd forgotten that she'd actually brought a warm fuzzy home.
On an intellectual level, I understand that there are many serious problems in the world that will not be solved with warm fuzzies. Sometimes cold pricklies are called for. On an emotional level, though, I can't handle the prickliness. Contention makes me feel sick to my stomach and it makes me intensely uncomfortable to see anger in others or in myself. Nevertheless, a passion for principles and causes that tend to be controversial together with an ego that demands to be seen as right get me into confrontations increasingly. The problem is that I am simply not equipped to handle negative emotions. I don't know what to do with them.
Several unrelated events of the past month, most of which I've already talked about here, have left me feeling vulnerable and irrationally scared. I got up from the computer earlier this evening and felt momentarily terrified at the realization that the blinds were open. I quickly closed all the blinds in the apartment. (Perhaps I was worried a bicycle would come flying through?) My compulsion to check my email as frequently as possible now butts heads with a constant fear of getting another comment in some blog comment war I've been part of. I could simply unsubscribe from the comment feeds so they don't show up in my email, but then I wouldn't know what people are saying and I fear the uncertainty would be worse.
The worst part, at least in so far as one specific incident is concerned, is the implication that the verbal attacks against me and my family are my own damn fault for putting aspects of our private life out where people can see and therefore debate. This stings particularly in the context of the several warnings I received two years ago, that I would regret making myself and my family so vulnerable. When considering the possible ramifications of putting ourselves in the married gay Mormon spotlight, FoxyJ and I took these warnings into account, but decided that the potential for good outweighed the potential for bad. I will also be the first to admit that my motivations for publishing essays and appearing in news media and blogging were not purely altruistic; as I've admitted before, I like attention. But I am self-aware enough and self-repressing enough to not allow myself to do something if I know my only reasons are ego-driven. I allowed myself to speak publicly and FoxyJ supported me in this, despite the fact that she does not share in my need for public approval, because we wanted to open up the discussion. I have seen evidence to suggest this has indeed been the result--not just the people who have contacted us to thank us or the people who say nice things about us, because as wonderful as that is a bunch of folks agreeing with me and telling me how wonderful I am isn't discussion. It's warm fuzzies. As much as it hurts me emotionally, on an intellectual level I am happy to see that people are saying my arguments are crap and that gay men who marry women are misogynists and that no ethical gay man would even think about subjecting a woman to such a life of misery and hey why isn't anyone talking about gay women? I'm happy to see this because that means people are talking. This was not the case five years ago. I certainly don't take full responsibility for the fact that mixed-orientation marriages and all the complicated issues they involve are being discussed more now than they ever were before, but I do think I've had a part in that, at least in the Mormon sphere.
So yeah, it hurts, but for the moment I'm going to fight the impulse to run away and hide from the internet, because I believe there's value--for myself and for others--in continuing to engage in discussions about marriage, sexuality, religion, parenting, politics, and above all, avocado. I will, however, keep away from the living room window.
Thanks to everyone who's left me warm fuzzies over the last month, either publicly on this and other blogs or privately via email.
*Which I accidentally mispelled at first as warm fuxxies, which is an entirely different way of making someone feel loved.