The Problem With Whitewashing
Now, as not all my readers are southerners, some may not understand what whitewash is and why I say it can be a problem. White wash is “A solution made up of lime and water, used for painting picket fences, walls, etc”. You can just “slop” it on the fence and it covers up the grunge and flaws pretty well.
image from doug-johnson.squarespace.com
In life, I call such things as denying what going on in life, covering up things we do not want others to know and sometimes making light of serious situations as whitewash. People whitewash all the time but when it becomes a way of life, then it can be very detrimental to us. The problem with whitewashing is that it does not fully cover the dirt and after time it bleeds through again and again and you have to keep whitewashing the fence.
Before anyone starts, whitewashing has nothing to do with race. It is how we in the south kept those picket fences and sometimes outbuildings looking fresh. You would have this big bucket of white liquid and a big paint brush and you would “slop” it on the fence. What got on the grass would wash off with the rains.
Snow reminds me of whitewash. It can cover all the dirt and grime and make the ugliest house look beautiful. I have watched people do that through the years and deny things like an alcoholic son, being in financial ruin, abuse, an affair, loss of a child, etc. It does not solve the problem but makes things look pretty on the outside.
Let me tell you, that in the old days, southerners especially southern women were proficient at whitewashing their lives. As far back as plantation days, the women of the mansion would whitewash that their husbands were going into the slave quarters and having sex with the female slaves. And sometimes it resulted in a child. But, when they came home, the wives put on that Stepford wives face and acted like nothing happened at all. They would deny that their husbands were having an affair with the neighbor’s wife and even invite her to dinner parties and act like nothing was going on. Boy, talk about some whitewashing going on.
When I was coming up, abuse was whitewashed by the families, by the social services, by the doctors, the churches and just about anyone that should have helped to stop it. They just snowed all over that and made it look pretty and as if nothing happened. Long sleeve shirts covered bruises, keeping children at home hid trauma, telling the children to get a smile on their faces and to never tell what happened is some whitewashing at it’s best. The most perfect home with the perfect children and perfect parents could be a house of hell for children. Just some statistics:
That is a lot of whitewashing, is it not? In the time it takes you to read this blog, we will say three minutes…18 children will have been reported as being abused. Think about how many are reported in 24 hours. That is way too much whitewash to cover up and people are finally doing something about it. People are getting rid off the whitewash and bringing it into the public view.
Animal abuse has been whitewashed and the poor animals have suffered. I am talking both domestic and wild animals. They have been tortured, misused and abused and it has been whitewashed for years. The good news is that advocacy groups are now speaking out and making it public. They are looking for solutions to the problem.
Now, how about our own lives. How many things do we whitewash? Do we whitewash that we are unhappy in our lives? Do we whitewash that we are being abused? Do we whitewash our feelings and pretend we are fine when we are hurt, angry, sad or whatever emotion we feel is too bad to let the world know we feel that way? Do we whitewash that we are financially in ruins and just living like we still have money? Do we whitewash our illnesses and how bad we really are?
Whitewashing is pretending that our lives are just fine and nothing is wrong. And like the snow…eventually the truth will come through. Whitewashing things in our lives is a choice and once we start doing it, we continue to do it and use it as a way of dealing with painful emotions. We fear being ridiculed, abandoned, embarrassed, judged, etc.
This is some good ole danLrene older than dirt wisdom. I learned these things through my many years of hard life. First, we have to learn to accept ourselves as we are. I look in the mirror and I see myself…I see the gray hairs, the lines on my face and I see that I am getting older and can not do a lot of things. Took me a long time to accept that but I do and I am ok with myself. So, first comes acceptance of ourselves just as we are.
Second comes putting the brakes on how much we let the opinions of others influence us or determine who and what we are. As long as WE know who and what we are and are ok with it, then it really does not matter what those “out there” think. Until we learn to live with ourselves by ourselves, we will never learn to live with other people. And I have learned that when others judge so harshly, they are only speaking what they know from their own lives and are dealing with but it is easier to point it out to someone else. Keep on being the person that is accepting of yourself, believing in yourself and showing your true inner integrity and feelings and others will soon see you as you do.
And last but most definitely, do NOT minimize or whitewash problems. They are still there when the whitewash starts to fade. Whitewashing problems is like trying to drink your problems away. Instead of whitewashing, step up to the plate and do something about it. If you have a problem, get help. If you have someone you love with a drinking or drug problem, step up to the plate and confront them and let them know you love them but you will no longer cover for them but you will help them get help. YES, it hurts to do that but it is either that or spend your life whitewashing everything in sight and that is an exhausting job.
There is no greater joy than learning how to help yourself, learning how to deal with and accept things from the past so that you can move on, learning that having a sister, brother, father, etc that is an alcoholic is not because of you. It is their problem and hiding it from the world does not help you or them. Standing beside those you love is not the same thing as fighting to deny the obvious problems in our lives.
And remember, the fear of what others think or will say about you is like me calling you a garage. It does not make you one. Everyone has problems in life and no one is immune to these problems. Hopefully one day we can turn to each other and be ourselves instead of whitewashing and people will be ready to reach out to help us instead of shoving us further down in the hole. I truly believe this is why there is so much anger and hatred in the world. You can only whitewash for so long before it starts to boil over.
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