Monday, February 12, 2007
Bring out the Best
He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees. - Benjamin Franklin

Jeff once sent me a postcard that said, "Thank you for never judging me. - Jeff"

I knew Jeff, though he sometimes hurt Michael, which I hated more than when he hurt me, came from a place where trusting people was exceptionally difficult. I never wanted him to feel like he was less than me. He wasn't ever less than me.

For a number of years in the 90's, I was the director of the Southern California HIV/AIDS Hotline.

Every day, 365 days a year people would call. They called about all sorts of things.
  • he had unprotected sex
  • her son had HIV and was in the hospital
  • she wanted to know if she should get tested
  • his partner had a fever
  • and on and on...
These people called us, me and my 75 volunteers who had each been through a grueling 54+ hours of training.

These people needed something from us. They were brave enough to call and hope to get what they needed.

They did not need to be judged. Any one of us could have said,
"Why did you do that? Didn't you know better?" or

"Go visit your son! What are you thinking?" or

"How many times are you going to call??? Just get tested already!"

But that was not what they called for. They called to be heard. They called to be comforted. They called to get facts. Some of them never called, so certain that they would be judged, no matter what.

I learned in my years on the hotline that everyone has a story. Everyone has a reason for doing the things they do.

I know that some people's parents told them they would never amount to anything and no matter how much success they have, they are still walking around proving them wrong with every arrogant comment.

I know that some of them were beaten so badly that the idea of love, with or without a condom was so precious that in the moment, and every moment it happened, it felt so much like light that it didn't matter.

I know that some of the mothers who called me were so afraid of a god that her parents and preachers ingrained on her soul that the struggle between the fear of her god and the needs of her son was killing her.

This is how I live my life. I do not want others judging me for my choices.

I have made them -- not to have children, to marry a man, to open my life up to the millions of unwashed masses (no offense) to read. I have made these choices based on my experiences in my life.

There are things you don't know about me. Hell, there are things I don't know about me, that make me cleave to Michael, that make me interrupt my friends in the middle of a sentence, that make me the center of attention sometimes. 99.99% of the time, the people I surround myself with are gracious and understanding. And when they're not, they are kind enough to be nice about it.

This is how I treat others. I need to believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.

Not the best I could do if I were them, but the best they can do.

I believe that a drug addict is doing the best they can with what they have. I am getting to a place where I believe that I am doing the best I can with what I have. I'm no saint, but I believe that each of us is doing our best. I hope this comes across.


Stumble It!


Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I dunno; I really feel I'm not doing the best I'm capable of. Is that my mom speaking or is it what I really think?

This is very similar to my philosphy that it is impractical and unfair to judge people by the standards one sets for oneself. It's hard to maintain that belief, but important to remind oneself.

Blogger Uccellina said...

You are one of the least judgmental people I have ever met. It's one of the things I love about you, and I think it's what puts people so at ease in your company.

It is so much harder to accept ourselves as we are than it is to accept others as they are.

Blogger Allison said...

I agree with uccellina. Actually, your example has made me want to be less judgemental. It's truly a wonderful and rare quality. (Was that judgemental??)

Blogger Frank said...

Wow, I so needed to hear/read that today.

I'm doing the best that I can.

Blogger Faith said...

MG - personally, I think you are doing the best you can. I don't think that means having a perfectly clean house or whatever you are beating yourself up for. You are doing the best you can with what you have right now. No shame - at all.

Ucc and Allison. Thanks.

Frank - I know you are.

Blogger Susan said...

That was a beautiful post- I'm a little weepy over the whole thing. By the way, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I love your new portrait. You look happy and sassy and beautiful. With what you've shared of yourself on here, it's perfect.

Blogger crazyauntpurl said...

Inspired... thank you so much for talking with me about all this, helping me, listening when I am sure you had more pressing things to do, always listening and not judging. Thank you :)

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