Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The fallacy of bootstrap pulling (I'm pissed and it shows)

I grew up with the very southern mentality that everyone should just pull up their bootstraps and work harder. If you just work harder, try harder, if you're just good, it will come around. Things will work out, things will be good, if you just keep trying.

This mentality is bullshit and its harmful.

See, the thing is there are lots and lots and lots and lots of admirable marvelous people who are busting their asses, trying to keep food on their family's table, trying to keep their babies healthy, trying to get that raise, trying to beat that disease. And it just doesn't effing work that way.

Some people just plain start life a thousand miles behind the privileged, or a hundred miles behind, or ten... And when you start behind you tend to get kicked down a lot more. And when you get kicked down what resources you have managed to scrape together (if you've even managed to scrape any together) are decimated. Emotional resources, financial resources, social resources.

The people reading this who've had generally happy lives, whose (allbeit imperfect) parents raised them with love, who had money to have interesting experiences, who lived in a safe neighborhood, who weren't belittled for their skin color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation, who didn't graduate from college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, who got to go to college, whose children are all alive and healthy, will probably find this offensive, because you don't see your privilege.  You think we should all just try harder.

Well, I graduated from highschool with honors, graduated from college with honors, have 13 years of higher education in, what I am realizing is, one of the most demanding and rigorous disciplines. I have a list of honors I could bore you with but I wont. I did most of my master's as a single parent, still have that boring list of honors. A year into my PhD my child died. You have NO IDEA... you just don't. A year later my youngest was born. He was born beautiful and perfect and his body doesn't work right. His immune system can't fight infection. Still have the boring list and am less than a year away from the highest degree anyone can earn, anywhere.

What prompted this rant you many wonder?

Yesterday we received test results for my Rainbow's vaccine challenge. When you are vaccinated your body responds as if you were infected (this is why you often feel sick after a vaccine). As a result if you ever do encounter the pathogen against which you were vaccinated your body is ready. This is a really big deal. Vaccination takes advantage of the way your immune system naturally works. So, a vaccine challenge tests whether or not the immune system is recognizing and arming itself against pathogens.

His isn't, not even a little bit. His numbers were actually LOWER after the challenge than before. He had zero response. His body didn't react.

I. am. devastated.

I had let myself hope. I had let myself hope that maybe, just this freaking once, whatever asshole cosmic force that hates our guts would cut our baby a break.

I let myself hope. I let myself believe that all that work. All that "being good" would matter.

It doesn't matter.

I always tell my kids that their behavior and choices are about them, not about rules, or what other people think, but about the person they want to be. I believe this and I haven't done the work I've done, tried to be an attentive and loving parent and wife I've tried to be, the trustworthy student and friend, because I want accolades. I do it because this is the person I want to be.

But my above statement holds. You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps guys. That is the illusion of those who are already up.

When the country loses its mind and thinks its ok to take healthcare away from your immune deficient four year old - you can't effing bootstrap that.

When the country loses its mind and defunds your area of expertise so most of the people you admire aren't finding jobs (meaning your wont either) - YOU CAN'T BOOTSTRAP THAT

When your 19 month old baby dies in your arms and you are never ever right again

When your Rainbow baby has to endure endless pain, and tests, and fear

There is no pulling yourself up by your bootstraps... I know, I've been trying for years.

I'm tired. I'm scared. I'm sad and I want to quit... only there's nothing to quit.

I don't need platitudes, so just don't. Don't tell me its going to be ok, for the millionth time it wont be. Don't tell me to keep my chin up or whatever other stupid, meaningless thing you're thinking about saying that would just make it hurt more.

Just don't.

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