J. K. Rowling Is Not a Single Tweet (And Neither Are Any of Us)

Several days ago, J. K. Rowling commented on an article, with largely negative backlash from many former fans of the Harry Potter series. A New York Times article set up the story by providing a one-sided back story and added the negative response of several Harry Potter fans – those agreed in calling her reaction transphobic.

J. K. Rowling wrote an essay in response to the backlash she received, which explores many angles of the issue and provides history. Unfortunately, I believe that the only part of her essay many people saw were the portions retweeted or shared on other sites.

I encourage, no, urge you to read J. K. Rowling’s whole essay, especially if you have read the Harry Potter series and are unsure of what to think of her as a person now due to the vast majority of negative, hateful things appearing online about her.

As a highly sensitive person and an avid bookworm (book dragon), I have taken refuge in the world of Hogwarts time and again. Recently (re)rereading the series as an adult, I am in awe of the research, care, and passion J. K. Rowling put in creating the world of Harry Potter.

I feel grieved at the harsh attention she is currently receiving, including death threats and calls to boycott all things Rowling.

More than this, though, I feel a deep concern as to what this severe reaction reveals of our society. In this era, we tend to believe that we know everything about a person and their views after reading a single tweet or perusing one article about them. We fail to take the time to truly understand people, especially when they happen to fall outside the line of our own views.

I will not grow as an individual if all I ever do is surround myself with people who agree with my views – whether religious, political, or societal. J. K. Rowling is not a single tweet or post or essay, just as none of us are. Each of us, I believe, could fill up a thousand books with our thoughts and stories, our hurts and our fears, with those things that have made us who we are.

By doing this, we are only hurting ourselves.

When we reduce another person to nothing more than a label, such as transphobic, we only reduce ourselves as well. If we believe that someone is nothing more than a single word or phrase or label, that means that we ourselves can also be reduced to a label. This is harmful because each of us is so much more than a single label or name or title.

As a highly sensitive person, I am both blessed and I might say cursed with depth of processing. I think on things deeply, and on people too. Because of this, I know that we are comprised of far more than can be easily described or labeled in a single article or tweet or Facebook post.

And we are, each of us, worthy of love and respect.

We are, each of us, in the words of a song I love, Glorious.

Finally, a word on the New York Times article title: “Harry Potter Fans Reimagine Their World without Its Creator.” Something about this type of reimagining sounds familiar. Reimagining a world without a creator.

An author might have no power over how a story and its characters are seen after publication. A gathering such as the Harry Potter Fandom might result. So many views and beliefs and fellowships might result outside the direct oversight of the author.

This does not change the fact that the author did write the story, create the characters, build the world. And when an imaginative world such as that in which Harry Potter lives – or an enduring world like Narnia or Middle Earth – is created, we might do well to think a little more deeply on the story’s author.

Because worlds do not appear out of thin air, and the more complex and nuanced the story, and the characters in it, the more complex and nuanced the author of that story. I believe J. K. Rowling deserves more than an across-the-board dismissal, a haughty declaration that, “We’ll keep the story but we don’t need the author.”

We’re adept at removing authors from the stories they have written.

But I would hope to believe that, in this world where we now live, we know enough … understand enough, to realize that we are each a combination of so many stories, so many experiences, so many hurts and unrealized dreams … oh, so much.

And when we encounter another person full of so much of the same, I would hope that we’d respond with grace, with acceptance, with kindness and love.

The Complex Emotions of a Highly Sensitive Mama (on Mother’s Day)

So, it’s Mother’s Day 2020. By the looks of it, a lot of moms are celebrating by posting photos of their kids or photos of their mom or both. There’s not a whole lot more we can do with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

I remember reading somewhere that Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for eating out (they can’t expect us moms to make dinner on our special day, right?) so plenty of restaurants are probably ruefully counting the amount of money they’re losing by not being open today … but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about motherhood and belonging and complex emotions and just how exhausting they are for a highly sensitive person (HSP). This Mother’s Day, I’m at the point of tears and just keeping them at bay because I don’t want anyone in the household to know what I am dealing with.

I’m trying to do my best to follow social distancing guidelines by not visiting my parents because they are both nearing 70 and in the high-risk category. Although I and my kids have been staying home pretty much 24/7, we definitely don’t want to put my parents at risk. So although we live in the same city, I called my mom to wish her a happy Mother’s Day instead of stopping by.

I also asked her what she was doing, hoping that she’d find some way to celebrate and enjoy this day. She did. She and my two sisters (both moms) are meeting up to spend a few hours together.

That’s it. I should be happy for her, for them, but instead, this highly sensitive mom feels shattered.

It’s not that I necessarily even like going places. I’m an introvert. Spending more time at home with my family is one of the best things that has happened during the coronavirus pandemic.

But I’ve also been stuck at home for weeks on end with no “me time” or free time and would so love to have been invited for a few hours out “with the girls.” My husband is home today and could have looked after the kids. I would have been available. I would have gone.

Sorrow wells up inside me. I try to step outside of my emotions, stand beside myself and figure out what exactly I am struggling with most among these complex emotions that threaten to wash me under. Is it disappointment? Hurt? Just plain old feeling left out?

I come from a large family – seven kids; I am the sixth. Many of my earliest childhood memories involve being left out, feeling left out, or feeling like no one wanted me around. As a highly sensitive child, I picked up on the comments, attitudes, and reactions of my siblings and it affected me deeply. I mean, what child does not want to belong?

After a childhood and teenhood facing these same problems of seeking and not finding acceptance among my family, I moved away from home at a young age to try to find it in other places. A decade or so passed with little luck.

Marrying and starting a family gave me an automatic place to belong, children to belong to, although I enjoy my space as much as anyone (and need regular space in order to process as any HSP DOES). But sometimes I feel like my mind and heart are pulled back to those exact same emotions I struggled with as a child … of truly needing to find acceptance and belonging, and failing to find it among my own family members.

I get along fine with my brothers and sisters, my parents. I have seasons where life gets busy and I don’t stay in touch as much as I should. I also have seasons where social media gets to be too much so I don’t keep up with what others are doing in life online. I call them my hermit seasons, when I would love nothing more than to find an abandoned cottage in the mountains and live in solitude and contemplation for a while. (I don’t know if that will ever happen, but it remains a dream of mine in times when life gets a little overwhelming.)

I think of my sisters and mom gathering together. I think of me not being there. Instead, I am here, in my home, sheltering in place and finding the need to find shelter in my complex emotions as well.

I have a daughter doing something in the kitchen. (She told me in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed in there.) I have a son who drew me a lovely picture of a mama bird with three baby birds beneath. They look up at her with something like admiration or at least acceptance and belonging. I have a child sitting near me now, occupied with something and showing it to me every few minutes for my reaction.

It is Mother’s Day and I am not alone, though the complexity of emotions that face me regularly might threaten to overwhelm me even on days like this. (Although, running through these thoughts feels like a mental marathon and I might need a nap … or two.)

To all you highly sensitive mamas, wherever you might be and whatever way you might be finding to honor this day … you are important, you are loved, you are needed … Happy Mother’s Day.