Impasse


Webster’s Everyday Thesaurus has these words for impasse:

deadlock, stalemate, blind alley, bottleneck…dead end, dilemma, predicament, quandary, standstill, standoff.

This past week I had a heavy dose of impasse which intermingled with my increasing preoccupation about the American Civil War. I look more and more frequently at the map of the red states and blue states that make up our United States and wonder anew at Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to keep the country united as one. I understand the problem better for sure. I always wondered how brother fought brother on different sides during the Civil War. They were family first after all, right? Not so fast, my friend.

The American people are a “duke’s mixture” to quote my granddaddy who used the words for his Saturday barbershop customers in the 1950s when my grandmother asked him who’d stopped by the barber shop that day.

George, who all came by for a haircut today?

Well, Betha, it was a duke’s mixture.

To which she would shake her head and look at me and ask, What does that tell you? Duke’s mixture.

My granddaddy would laugh as if he’d told a funny joke, and I would laugh with him. My grandmother never cracked a smile.

Today I find myself not laughing, either. Rarely cracking a smile at the impasse among the citizens in our country which must surely have my grandparents spinning in their graves. My grandmother invented social media via the telephone party line we had in our little town as surely as Al Gore invented the internet. She relished listening in on other people’s conversations and delighted to repeat juicy gossip at her kitchen table… but please dear God, don’t ever mess with her family.

This week I did something I almost never do. I responded on Facebook to a post made by a first cousin twice removed who has a world view that I have long ago accepted as different from mine. Most of the time I hide his offensive posts from my timeline and move on.

I can’t bring myself to “un-friend” him because I truly love the little boy I remember visiting us in Richards so often with his grandmother who was my grandmother’s sister. But this week he posted that liberals must have a “mental illness” to think the way we do, and that struck a nerve for me.

You see, I grew up during a time when being a homosexual was considered to be a mental illness. Think about how you would feel if you grew up believing that you had a secret mental illness and, if exposed, you could be institutionalized. Lock her up. Throw away the key. I heard an old tape begin to  play in my mind.

Somehow our thread on Facebook took an unpleasant turn, as I already knew it would and we got into a discussion regarding a prevailing Muslim  belief in some places that gays should be killed. Unfortunately, one of my cousin’s friends chimed in with the following comment: “We knew someone many years ago that would probably want to buy a plane today, load them (gays and lesbians) up and drop them off over there (wherever Muslims live). I sure miss him.”

Wow. I was transported to a conversation I had in the early 1990s with a client who sat in my office and said, “If it were up to me, I’d take all those queers and put them behind barbed wire in Kansas and tell them to stay there.” I didn’t respond then. The old tape was playing louder now.

One of my mother’s most infamous quotes for me was that she wished all those gays would go back in the closet where they belonged. She would be happy to slam the door shut. The old tape was so loud now I could barely hear myself think.

Luckily, I didn’t accept the old tapes as I don’t accept my cousin or his friend’s thinking about who I am today. I’ve spent my entire adult life working for equal treatment and fairness – my liberal social justice beliefs.

In 1974 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. I was 28 years old. In 2017 at the age of 71, I am personally declassifying liberalism as a mental illness.

I resolve to limit my social media interaction with my first cousin twice removed to Happy Birthday wishes. No need going up that blind alley again.

I feel better already.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies and a passion for photojournalism. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay collection and a collection of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. She has been blogging for seven years as her alter ego, The Red Man, her rescued Welsh terrier but now is reduced to writing as herself since the Red Man left Casa de Canterbury for good in February of 2016. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Impasse

  1. Luanne @ TFK says:

    You really hit me with this one. Those are some harsh “tapes.” Brutal. Makes me so sad until I remember all people today who don’t think that way through their parents and grandparents may have. So we are moving in the right directions although sometimes it must seem slow. On a tangent, I’m pretty sure that in the 19th century being a woman was considered a mental illness by many.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Luanne, you are so right. It has been my belief that things were moving in the right direction until the recent change in the overt nastiness generated during the recent political election. I have observed that the 38% who feel similarly to DT have been given a free get out of school pass to be ugly, too. This makes me profoundly sad on many levels. One, that some of my so-called friends and family I love dearly harbor feelings of hate and bigotry and two, they now are empowered to speak freely about these feelings.
      If I were my mother, I would say I wish they would just go back in the closet and stay there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t even know what to say. I’m so sorry, but I am also ridiculously impressed with your ability to overcome it, and be who you are, with all of your strength and humor and sass intact. You are an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Rachel…those are really kind words and they mean the world to me coming from a person I admire as much as I admire you, your writing, your love of animals, your relationship with your mother and, not the least of all, your faith.
      I know everyone has “old tapes” that play with different tunes, but still painful to hear. I believe I was lucky to have strong women as role models throughout my childhood and on into my adult life – I drew strength from them…and still do. You are one of them, too.

      Like

  3. Cindy says:

    My family as well had the same recorder- some still play theirs with their religious banter- I much like you – didn’t want to be disrespectful- I mean if my grandmother were alive I was told ” she would turn over in her grave!” I managed to make myself successful for one reason- to prove I didn’t have to depend on their over zealous imagination of ME being a lesbian!!!
    I unplug or much like you turn the volume down when they hit play on that recorder. I choose to let them banter and post their conservative views- but I like you have learned to still love- I just choose to do it from afar – and I unfollow their crap- so I don’t loose it! Still tugs at my heart when I see some of their posts – I sat with most of these people in church three days a week- VBS…. the church was our family- and extended family…
    continue your blogs! I appreciate them more than you know! Tell “T”, hello!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cindy, I appreciate your personal response and acknowledgement of being a fellow struggler. It’s comforting to swap stories – sounds like you and I grew up very much alike. I often remember the VBS days in the summer. So many Bible verses, so many crafts! 🙂
      Thanks for reading my blogs – writing is a solitary business so I love to hear from you.

      Like

  4. Sheila,
    For the past year or so, I’ve been thinking how it wasn’t so hard for brother to go against brother during the Civil War. So many of us are passionate about our side and our point of view in this political war. Those of us who love diversity, embrace our fellows no matter race, Creed, or sexual indentity, cherish the environment, and “hold these truths to be self evident”are shocked by how easily the other side resorts to anger, mockery, humiliation, and hate. Are we the same country?

    I’m am deeply sorry you revisited a painful period in your personal history. We look to family to validate and support us. What a shock to read those words even though you knew he probably was as religious as ever in disparaging gays, Muslims and any others. The door is better closed between you except on holidays and birthdays… If then!

    I love you.

    Happy belated Pride Weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rockyden says:

    WAY TO GO COUSIN!!!…..Tell it like it is…Congratulations

    Liked by 1 person

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