This article originally appeared in the Pacific Citizen.
Recently, I received a message from a mother who asked me, “How do you deal with all the hatred that is in the world?” She has a transgender son, and so I knew her question was directed at me because I, too, have a transgender son, and there are so many states that are trying to implement laws against our children.
I gave her a concise answer about looking for the blessings around me and focusing on what is positive in my life rather than focusing on the negativity that often consumes the news, but her question caused me to reflect even further.
For those of you who know me well, I am a mother who writes inspiring quotes down in a journal. I read nonfiction books and try to distill the message down into one or two simple sentences that become a formula for me to follow.
When a challenge confronts me and I get stuck, I pull out my book of quotes or formulas and look for one that will help me. With this mother’s question, I realized that there is one formula that I use more than others, and it has helped me get through many challenging situations. I call this formula “Living Above the Line.”
Positive Feelings (Above the Line)
(Hope, Joy, Courage, Gratitude, Openness, Compassion, Acceptance, Patience, Humility, Love)
Negative Feelings (Below the Line)
(Guilt, Shame, Anger, Resentment, My Way Is the Only Way, Blame, Judgment, Fear, Worry)
I believe I attract what I put my attention and intention on. During the time Aiden was getting physically assaulted because he did not fit the socially acceptable stereotype of his gender, I realize the more I worried, was afraid and got angry, the more things seemed to happen that were negative.
When I worried that others would bully Aiden, he seemed to get bullied more. When I was afraid that the world was not a safe place for Aiden, he would get into a fight or get physically assaulted. I was operating below the line with negative feelings and attracting more of these things into our lives.
On the opposite side, when I went out and spoke to raise awareness, when I saw things that made me grateful, or when I looked for ways that I could responsibly makes situations better, I became more aware. I found more things to be grateful for, and more blessings came my way.
In other words, when I operated “Below the Line,” I got more negativity in my life. And when I operated “Above the Line,” I got more things that made me feel positive.
Recently, I have had a number of personal challenges. For a moment, I could tell I was living “Below the Line,” feeling guilty, worried and fearful of the outcome of these situations. But then, as luck would have it, I was writing this article.
I immediately thought of ways I could feel hopeful, grateful and full of joy, and so two days later, I received this Mother’s Day surprise. My son was asked to write me a letter, and it was published in the Huffington Post through an article that Laurin Mayeno, the mother of a gay son, wrote.
Here is Aiden’s letter:
Happy Mother’s Day! I have the greatest fortune of being your son and getting to experience your love. I have watched you become an amazing voice in the LGBTQ community and to see you fight for me so that I can have the best life possible. There aren’t enough ways to say how grateful I am for that. I know that I don’t always say, “I love you,” but I want you to know that even when I don’t say it out loud that I do. I love you for holding my hand when I was feeling anxious. I love you for standing by me when I came out as trans and taking care of me after top surgery. I love you for always reminding me that I am loved no matter what. And even though you do all these awesome LGBTQ things that I also love you for, I love you for just being my mom.
I don’t know where I would be without the love and support you have given me. You are always there to support me in the times that I struggle, and are there to celebrate the times where I succeed. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I love you the most!
Your loving son, Aiden
I willingly choose acceptance over judgment, hope over fear and love over hate. And if there was ever a sign that living “Above the Line” was worth the effort, it was Aiden sharing his heart with me.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.