I don't know you. I don't know your history. I don't know what kind of parents you had, how your teachers treated you in school, how many times you've had your heartbroken and how many mistakes you've made along the way. I have zero ideas of how you became the unique individual you are today. All I know is that you've experienced pain. You've experienced loss. You've had dreams and ambitions. I know that you've likely felt misunderstood, underestimated, and down for the count at one point or another in your life time. Even though I know all of these things, I still don't know you. I don't know your circumstances and in order to understand you better, I'm ready to listen. There's the flip side of the coin.
You don't know me either. You might know I'm a writer and a police wife but you still don't know me. To the strangers that pass me by, I am likely sized up as a middle class mom who is struggling to let go of her hipster fashion sense. They likely see me as angry or frustrated due to the nature of my resting face. I honestly don't know how people size me up but I do know that there are many layers that make up my entire disposition. I can look back on my 33 years and know that I came by my character honestly. I've had failed relationships, lost friendships and experienced abuse on different platforms. I've broken hearts and had mine broken in return. I've made mistakes, fallen down, failed those I have loved, and I have struggled. Oh...how I have struggled. Somewhere along the way, I decided to put my wall down and travel away from my cynical views of this world. Maybe that was when I married my husband or maybe it was when I gave birth to our son but, regardless, my soul changed. My little boy has a medical condition that is extremely rare. He is 1 out of 116 people to experience this condition...ever (as in all of documented human history ever). I have fears about his future like most people do. I wonder what success means for him and how I can best navigate the sea that will lead him there. As I learn to communicate with him about his differences and steer him towards understanding of his own obstacles, I find myself wanting to understand other people more. I want to put myself into the world and understanding other people in the same way that I hope the world will put themselves into understanding him.
A couple of nights ago, I had the honor to exchange several emails with a woman who reached out to us through our Facebook Community. She wanted to speak to me about the black community and policing. We were able to share our concerns, our opinions, and our ambitions about unifying society. As the conversation continued, it became obvious that we were very similar people seeking to understand others on the platform of open dialogue. I can honestly say that I made a friend last night; a friend that will challenge me to think outside my comfort level and allow me to challenge her in return. When you seek understanding, there is so much growth to be found.
Some people don't remember life before social media. There wasn't always instant access to throw stones and rocks at people for their opinions. It took actual effort to be heard. You had to make actual phone calls and write these things called "letters." Now, I have this handheld device that gives me the opportunity to see the thoughts of millions of people all while I wait for my morning latte to be made. I don't want to feel anger because people don't understand me and I don't want to feel anger because I don't understand them either. What I'm saying is that I'm willing to speak about how we can continue to bridge the gap. We cannot and will not accomplish anything without that communication.
Long story short, I'm listening. Are you ready to listen too?
(PHOTO CRED: AP PHOTO/REX ARBOGAST)