1. Some in my family are leaving our all-family Whatsapp group and I am the cause. Everyone is in Italy so I thought it would be safe to bring up my president (Italian politics is high-level verboten). I thought it would be safe, two weeks ago, to say “We who live in the US are in really bad hands and I am scared.”
2. It wasn’t. The one of us who sees things in terms of individual choices and therefore (how does that follow?) supports right-wing politicians was all over me. She is always so disciplined, so good, so kind! But people had been dying for weeks and she hadn’t worked a day and no sick leave for her because she works for herself, so stress (I assume) got the better of her.
3. We argued, I and this person I love, for hours. Everyone else was quiet. We argued well into the late afternoon here and the night there. She was condescending. I was furious. Eventually, in the dead of night Italian time, I lost it and said the things one says when one is angry, which are not what one thinks but what one knows will hurt.
4. I watched the season finale of This Is Us last night. If you have seen it, you know what I’m talking about. Untrue words said in rage can only be taken back if both parties agree that they are indeed untrue and said only because, in rage, we’ll say what hurts.
5. My very loved one who believes that everything is individual choices also believes that rage leads us to say what we really think. She now believes every word I say, and, given the basis of her believing it, there is no talking her out of it.
6. But here’s the thing. I expected the whole family to be angry at me for my lack of control and meanness. They weren’t. They have tolerated my loved one’s right-wingness for years. I was suddenly the hero who said it like it was. They, too, believed my words.
7. Relations are now broken and it’s my fault. Relations are now broken and it’s my loved one’s fault. Relations are now broken and no one can see a path to forgiveness for my loved one except, paradoxically, me, so it’s their fault too.
8. The last time my whole family sided with me I was 9 and something really bad happened and they were on my side because it was just too egregious even for big-mouthed, easy-to-lose-her-cool, troublesome, designated-problem me.
9. But I don’t want them back like this. I don’t want them loving me, now, because we are all united against our loved one who hasn’t been working for more than a month and has ideas that don’t jibe with the rest of us but who is also always there for everyone, always there, always there.
10. And I think of all of us who are fighting now because people are sick and dying, because politicians fail us, because we are not working, because we are working and it’s killing us, because we are stuck together in small spaces including small virtual spaces, and all I can say is, peace, fellow humans, peace and ask forgiveness and give forgiveness and please peace.
Art by Lourdes Sánchez, detail. Via art-Walk.