As we've recently celebrated some historic achievements for the LGBT movement, freedom to marry in Arkansas and the first openly gay football player was drafted into the NFL, it's hard to believe that Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) was signed into law twenty years ago. DADT was considered an accomplishment at the time. Although it represented a compromise, gay men and women could continue their service in the military with some protection from prosecution, just as long as they concealed that part of their identity. Objections to DADT eventually emerged as it became clear that this doctrine essentially amounted to the old separate-but-equal provisions and discrimination still ensued. In 2010, DADT was repealed, which was a signifiant triumph for LGBT rights, and made me feel a bit old, as I could remember the time when DADT was seemed to represent progress. Nonetheless, I'm willing to engage in a little nostalgia as I feel so proud to be living in a time that is is advancing toward acceptance.
Meanwhile... after a particularly upsetting phone call with Myrtle after the transfer of our promised embryo delivered a new chapter of disappointment, I was starting to consider that I needed to repurpose our friendship. However, I had no idea what that would be or how I would accomplish it. Many of my followers have suggested talking to her, but I had no idea what to say. It was time to start brainstorming. Hi, can you try not being such a huge bitch? came up in my first draft. Do you realise that you're being rather insensitive? was my next attempt, but I had to admit that was probably sounded a bit condescending on my part. I know you mean well, but sometimes you don't come across as being sympathetic to our situation... Maybe that would work. I failed to return two calls from her while I searched for the best choice of words.
Even though I am an atheist and don't recognise the Easter holiday, both my mother and Myrtle feel obligated to ring me on that day. I knew that I couldn't keep avoiding Myrtle forever. I also had some misgivings that this may not be the best time to reconnect since I was coming off the final BFN that put the nail in the coffin of our first IVF cycle. Fuck it. Maybe it would be best for her to see me in my raw emotional state, if I snapped, so be it! I picked up my phone and pressed the call button. Her voice mail greeting answered.
Hi Myrtle, it's Jane. It's after 5 your time, so I hope you're home from your mother-in-law's place and are enjoying a long overdue glass of wine. We just did brunch with my aunt, I'm sure your heard from my mother that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. So... we got more disappointing news of the fertility front. You know... same shit, different day...If you want to talk about anything else, I'll be home for the rest of the evening.
Myrtle phoned back about 10 minutes later after she fixed little Myrtle's dinner. She was compliant with my request and we chatted about everything else from work frustrations to our husband's annoying habits. I remembered why we're still friends after all these years, and after spending the weekend with sporadic crying fits, it felt good to be laughing for a change. It was what I needed from a friend at that moment.
Yes, I swept everything under the rug. Very good Jane, you'll be an excellent role model of conflict resolution for your child if you ever have one! Yet, you know what? It worked. Okay part of my cowardliness was also from her anticipated reaction. I thought she might whine about how hard it is for her. How she doesn't know what to say to me. How frustrating it is for her as she may feel that she can't talk to me about her experiences as a mother. I'm not denying that these impositions are real for her, but I really didn't want to acknowledge them at that time. Thus, it was preferred to become the proverbial ostrich with her head in the sand. Don't ask; don't tell.
I had another pleasant and enjoyable conversation with Myrtle on Mother's Day. Once again, a little part of me hoped that she would reach out and acknowledge that this day is a bit hard for me. However, if I am to enjoy the benefits of DADT, I must appreciate that there are some sacrifices involved. It's as if were back in 1994, although this time without the bad hair styles and emergence of grunge music. For now, don't ask, don't tell represents progress. There will be a time in the future for it's repeal.