Mid-life Advocacy Crisis or Dark Night of the Soul

I found this Nelson Mandela quote from 1997. The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children. A year before my daughter was born. In her 22 years of life we still have quite a ways to go but even more so for people with disabilities. Many are still discriminated against, dismissed or denied access to services to enable them to live their best lives.

I tried to do some advocating for all disabilities on a post the other day, as I tend to do – not as regularly these days, for the very reason that occurred. The post was stating a need for government to step up services and support for a particular disability, but suggested, almost as an afterthought, “and all special needs.”

I commented that I was being respectful, but as it was suggested other disabilities were being ignored, to be truly inclusive we did not need to highlight one disability over all the others – should we simply say all disabilities.

I was misunderstood. One person responded in CAPS for different words that I did not have the right to tell people how they should be addressed. I answered that I wasn’t suggesting that. She responded that this particular disability was the only one that required early interventions to be successful. There were no others whose needs were as great (even though the poster suggested there was). Now after a couple exchanges she did eventually understand  what I was attempting to say and we agreed there is a need for others. But then another person commented in an even harsher manner – how dare I demand people accept my view.

It wasn’t that they disagreed or misunderstood me – text isn’t always easy to understand and people are entitled to their opinions – it was the harsh accusatory reactions. I did not state this particular disability did not need support. I did not use CAPS or DEMAND the original poster change his post. I tried to start a dialogue about inclusive language. Yet the same people who want an inclusive world were protesting about my suggestion others be included.

I have cut back commenting on social media during this pandemic. It was difficult to advocate before 2020. It is even more so now. It is not unusual to see such divisive and harsh comments on political or news sites, or in groups where emotions are sometimes raw – but the comments on even hobby type groups is at a level I’ve never seen. I get many are on edge, but after this last experience I think I’m having a mid-life advocacy crisis.

I respect and admire people who can express themselves eloquently in exchanges online – even when under attack. I continue to follow and learn from people I admire. But after 15 years of this, I’m beginning to tire of how people seem to think it’s okay to attack people for having a difference of opinion. I understand we all have different ways to communicate and skills. But there is a real escalation of conflict everywhere. It is exhausting trying to navigate silos and egos and competition for space. 

I started this journey to share my story in the hopes if someone out there needed to know they were not alone they’d find me and not feel so alone. I started this blog to share what I’ve learned. As time went on, so did the desire to advocate at a higher level. But this week, I just don’t think I have it in me.

It was difficult when I had to do it for my daughter. Responding to conflict in a calm manner is a skill. You would think after raising a child with FASD I’d be an expert. As an introvert I have to continually step out of my comfort zone to put myself out there. It doesn’t get any easier. 

I’ve had an incredibly difficult few years. We’ve all had a difficult 2020. But I have reached a point where, after being knocked around and down, I just want to get out of the ring for awhile. Maybe it’s time to redirect my energies. It’s time for some inner soul work and it’s time for some serious self care. 

I have always worked in the social service sector because I enjoy helping people. I love researching and sharing information. I enjoy presenting to people who want to listen. I don’t mind answering questions and explaining different points of view – but I no longer want to subject myself to the harsh reactions of strangers. It’s not even usually  about me. I try to support others who are misunderstood or attacked online.

I signed up for a course on developing self compassion. I think I need to take some time to heal and find the confidence in myself that I seem to have lost somewhere over the last few years.

To those of you who put yourself out there each and every day and respond with grace while you deflect angry and harsh comments, yet are able to rise above, you have my admiration. I try to do that. I just can’t right now.

I saw this post the other day. Maybe I’m not having a mid-life advocacy crisis, but I’m entering the dark night of my soul.


6 thoughts on “Mid-life Advocacy Crisis or Dark Night of the Soul

  1. Kimmer Cee says:

    I too am sorry that you are feeling this way and had such a horrible encounter with some very closed minded angry people. You are such an inspiration and I admire your courage, knowledge and experience. Please don’t let this harsh, unwarranted encounter discourage you from providing all of the amazing insights you provide to all of us. Take Care and keep on blogging!!

    • our sacred breath says:

      Awe thanks 😊 I know I shouldn’t let it get to me but it just gets to be too much after a while … I just need to re-evaluate how or what or if I respond … I still love to share … just don’t need the angry energy! 💗

  2. Ab says:

    I am sorry that you are feeling this way. I enjoy reading your posts and I just recently discovered you also run a Facebook page. You do great work for the community and families like mine.

    I try not to get too wrapped up in the toxicity of online and social media individuals. Especially during these extremely uncertain times. I always remind myself these are a minority of the human experience and reality.

    Best wishes getting through this period of uncertainty! And thanks again for your wonderful advocacy.

    • our sacred breath says:

      Thank you for your comment and compliments. I do enjoy writing and sharing … and will continue … I just need to think about social media commenting. You’re correct … I jus5 need to remind myself not to take it personally. I know my integrity.

  3. Robin Burgamy says:

    Oh man, sorry to hear you are feeling this way. You wouldn’t be able to write a blog as awesome as this one if you didn’t feel things deeply. Your posts have helped countless parents and adults alike. How often do pastors and professors take a sabbatical? Every so often, and they get PAID for their jobs – not just a calling of the heart like yours. So maybe after 15 years, it might be time for a self-care break? Let your community know how we can support. Hugs sistah!

    • our sacred breath says:

      Thank you 💗 I don’t know if it’s I’ve grown weary and tired after all these years or it is just a need to step back for a bit because of the volatility in the world. Or maybe it’s time to change my approach. Thank you for your kind words. I know I feel things deeply and this has been a difficult time because we just see so much more struggle. I wonder if people would speak to people in person like they do online. Some would but my guess is most wouldn’t. I’ve had a few bullies in my life. But it feels like they are everywhere. I’m trying to understand that they too are hurting, but I also should not feel like I have to subject myself to them daily. Just trying to navigate the new normal.