Distress tolerance

Dear President Trump,

On my run this morning I was thinking about the incredible self-control and patience that people who have to put up with loads of crap day in and day out must have to have to survive. Then, along these same lines, I read a WP piece about being gay and living in the rural South. The reporter recounted being in a diner with a lesbian couple and how upon seeing a group of straight-looking women coming by their table, one of the women in the couple quietly said something like “watch, at least one of them will give me the look.” The reporter said that the third woman to walk past glared incredibly obviously at the lesbian woman and kept staring at her the entire time she was moving through the aisle. The woman she was interviewing said this happens to her every day; every day someone throws daggers at her with their eyes, clearly communicating their hatred and disgust. She sadly wondered aloud if maybe she deserved this treatment. Similarly, I told you a while back about our pastor, who you may recall is African American, telling us how staff in the local department store immediately start trailing her whenever she goes in to shop. Every single time.

Today at work someone I don’t know ended up sharing a lot about herself and at one point said she’s decided she doesn’t need to learn distress tolerance and she doesn’t think other women need to learn it either. She said growing up female and living in this world female means one has to be skilled at putting up with crap and tolerating the distress this causes because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to make it. I am really grateful to her for giving me this useful way of putting it and for making it so clear that some distress really should not be tolerated.

I know that life is not necessarily easy for straight white men of means and that there’s plenty of distress to go around. That said, I would appreciate it if you, as the straight white man of means who sets the tone for so many in this country, would consider how challenging it would be to be disrespected and disparaged day in and day out and not be able to safely protest or stand up for yourself. It’s really no way to live.

May we all be safe being ourselves.
May we all be happy to treat one another as we wish to be treated.
May we see we all want the same basic things; love, respect, dignity.
May those of us who have not had to give this much thought check ourselves and get to work.

Tracy Simpson

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