The Whole Me

Yesterday, I read this blog post by conservative evangelical blogger, Matt Walsh. It showed up in my Facebook feed because a friend liked it. Typically, I pass over his stuff because I think he’s full of hot air. But last night, I bit the click bait. The sentence to draw people in?

“How are participation trophies and divorces linked?”

I’d like to say that my reaction was of one, Sheila Broflovski, saying, WHA WHA WHAAAAAAAAT? In reality, I had already read enough of his blog to know that I was in for a long, rambly, unnecessarily angry post. He tends to substitute facts, reality, and substance with broad generalizations and trying to convince you of his “absolute truth” by grabbing you by the shoulders and shaking you while screaming, I’m right because REASONS!

This post argued insisted that undeserved praise was the root of people being whiny, narcissistic bitches. (Pause for irony.) He sets up a false dichotomy; receiving participation trophies when you clearly suck with either: 1) Make you feel worse about yourself because you know you suck and deserve nothing, or 2) Turn you into a self-absorbed asshole.

“If a severely impoverished child wore a burlap sack to school, he would be utterly humiliated if his teacher, with all good intentions, decided to award him the honor of “best dressed.” That’s how many kids feel when their mediocrity is put on a pedestal and treated like it’s something exceptional. They aren’t fooled, as much as they’d like to be.”

Outcome 2, he conjectures, is clearly the reason the divorce rate is so high. (Nevermind the people who, on the whole, no longer feel compelled to stay in dysfunctional or abusive marriages because of the church, society, or inheritance laws that favor men.)

As evidence of this self-important sickness, he offers an abridged Marilyn Monroe quotation that has made the rounds on social media.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

He then puts it in the context of the full quotation and rails against it and anyone who embraces it. In doing so, he completely misses the forest through the trees. He misses the intent, especially of those who embrace the abridged quotation.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

So often, society demands perfection, inside and out. The flawed need not apply. Too many people want no part of the baggage another person is carrying. Seriously, if you want to see someone back away slowly and wide-eyed, tell them how you’re really doing when they ask. And if you have mental health issues? They will suddenly need to go because they need to walk their plants and left their cat on in the oven.
The intent of the original quotation, and I’m sure any number of people who have posted it, is not what Walsh suggests. In an epic leap of thinly veiled misogyny, (“…and it stretches beyond one offensive quote from a 20th century Playboy Bunny”) Walsh insists that by claiming such a quotation, one is getting in the world’s face saying, I’m a horrible person. Deal with it or fuck off! Perhaps that’s true for some people, (and anyone who’s had five minutes of a psychology class could tell you there’s more going on there than undeserved trophies) but not so for all….and probably not so for Ms. Monroe.

The key word is “me”. If you can’t handle me. The implication is that there is a whole person. A person is not a set of flaws, nor are they only untouched perfection. A person is all of those things. To be in a relationship with someone, be it friendship, familial, or romantic, means that you are not compartmentalizing that person. You are in it for the whole person, the “me”. Nowhere does it suggest that the other person shouldn’t challenge the “me” to grow, to work through and transcend those flaws. What it does say is that the “me” wants no part in a relationship with someone who is only around when things are good and uncomplicated.

Walsh concludes his post by saying, “The only ‘participation trophy’ you’re awarded from life is death.” In the end, if you’re what he would call an awful human being and don’t earn anything, then you deserve nothing. I guess it’s a good thing Jesus doesn’t see it that way.

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