Cruelty is a tactic of the weak

I’ve never really understood cruelty.  I’ve never really understood how someone can *choose* to be mean, and uncaring.

From the obvious, very big stuff (man kidnaps woman, rapes her and forces her to live in a tiny cell for years) to the smaller stuff (people who make fun of other people for disabilities, physical appearance and limitations).  Now, I have admitted before, and I’ll admit it again, I am sensitive.  I get my feelings hurt easily.  But I rebound rather quickly.  Often times, the things that I get my feelings hurt about are the things that no one ever intended me to get hurt about.  A misplaced phrase or joke or statement that misses the mark and stabs me right in the heart.

That is not what I am talking about today.

Today, I am talking about my sister-in-law: the evil one that my brother married after my sister-in-law passed away (I’ve written about her before).  She’s not evil simply because she’s not *her*.  I don’t operate that way.  When I have sincere disdain for someone, it is normally quite justified.

My reasons for not liking her are my own, and I won’t share them here, today.  Mainly because it’s what *I* hold against her, and the reason I am bitching is precisely because people use online forums to be vague and passive-aggressive and overall terrible.  Some of my friends say and do things that they wouldn’t *ever* do in person.  It’s disillusioning, really.

My daughter had her Homecoming Dance on Friday.  In my corner of the world, this is a big deal.  Last year she was stood up.  This year, different boyfriend, and much different excitement.  She was genuinely excited.  And I was, for her.  Before the dance I took pictures of her, and pictures of her and her boyfriend at the dance.  Then I gave her my camera so she could take pictures, too.  The next day I posted those images on Facebook for my friends and family to see.

Not even 5 minutes later, my sister-in-law posts, “Braces are only $119 a month.  Some people should get them.  Just sayin’.”  (**Side note: my daughter has pretty crooked teeth.  I’m not going to lie and say that she has the perfect smile; she doesn’t.  But I know this was directed at my child.)  I said nothing, and noticed that my brother, her husband, writes, “Who?” under her status.  Later she writes, “That’s all I’m gonna say. Lol.”  LOL?  L-O-fucking-L????

(**Another side note: I’m so crazy stupid pissed about this, even now, that the hair on my neck is standing up.  And just a tip, when I start to feel like a peacock, I’m really angry!)

I looked at that status for a while.  It crossed my mind to say, “Maybe that isn’t a priority for them.”  Or, “Not everyone values their appearance.”  And… even, “Let’s not throw stones in ugly houses.”  Or, “Books on tact are even cheaper – you should look into it.”  But…. I said nothing.  It would suit no purpose.

I didn’t choose to get my daughter braces.  She’s grown up with a speech/learning disability.  Needless to say, it’s been challenging for her.  She’s had a hard time making friends; she’s struggled to identify with her peers; she’s spent most of her life introverted.  The hubs and I talked about braces, and even last year brought her into the discussion.  Braces would be another obstacle.  For a child that already has a difficult time with communication, this would make it a little harder.  She’s not ready for that.  I’m not going to force her.  I’ve forced her to do way more difficult things, so don’t think this is a cop-out.  I’m not sheltering her as much as I am giving her the choice.  For now, we choose not to.

But are you fucking kidding me?  This is supposed to be my family!  These are supposed to be the people who support me through anything.  They are supposed to be the most caring people in the world.  Um…. she doesn’t fit the bill.  She never has.

I thought a lot last night about how to handle this.  And… I’m choosing not to.  A wise friend of mine said, recently, “Sometimes the best reaction is to have no reaction at all.”  Yes, indeed.

I thought about lighting up Facebook with a bunch of “vaguebooking” directed at her.  I thought about telling her, outright, that she was a miserable human being.  But then……then grace caught up with me.  And really?  I feel sorry for her.  She really *is* miserable.  She *is* unhappy.  She doesn’t have many friends, and struggles to build strong relationships.  She is 30 years old and acts like she is still 20.  She confuses “bitchy” and “assertive” on a regular basis.  As a matter of fact, she uses “bitchy” as a badge of honor.  Like, somehow, telling people that she is a bitch absolves her from any accountability to tact and courtesy.

I feel sorry for people who are cruel.  Having been on the receiving side of cruelty too many times to count, I know that the people who dole out such behavior are insecure and angry.  They are weak.  And that isn’t me.  I’m not weak.  And, while I don’t need to tolerate that type of behavior, I also don’t need to engage in it, as well.  It starts a cycle.  She does this, so I do that.  It becomes a pissing contest that I don’t need to participate in.  All I would do is confirm her belief that people are difficult to get along with.  All I do is give her an affirmation of mistrust.  I won’t do that.

Instead… I’ll do nothing.  I’ll show her some grace that she, apparently, isn’t able to.  I will forgive her, because that is what she needs.

Today, forgive someone and let it go.  Whatever *it* is.  They aren’t wasting any time on your heartache, or your disappointment.  So forgive them, and move on.  It’s the only thing you can do, if you want to show your strength.  Take the high road.  Be the light in the world that you wish to see.

That is all.  I’m all better now.

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Why I stopped at one

I have to toot my own horn and say that I have a way with words.  I can make connections and analogies that make difficult things easier to understand.  I once used frozen fries to make a connection to hypnotherapy…. don’t ask.  But trust me, it worked.

Unfortunately, my gift can fail me at the most unusual times.  This post is about one of those times.

My daughter was thirteen years old.  I had taken her to the doctor and had expressed concern that she hadn’t gotten her first period yet.
(Don’t worry, men – I am *not* going into almost any amount of detail.)  He told me that it would come, in time, but to be proactive and talk with her about it before it happens, and lessen her trauma.  So, I tried.

I started by talking with her about mommy’s time-of-the-month.  I tried to talk about it medically.  Giving the appropriate terms and correct descriptions.  Her response: “Gross.  That’s gross.”

Well… she’s got me there.

So I tried again.

Me:  Okay…. so  it’s sort of like flushing a toilet.

Her (looking at me like I have a cat on my face): Gross.

Me:  Work with me, kid.  I’m trying to explain it.  Like a toilet, it has a purpose.  It holds the stuff you put in it until you don’t need it anymore, then you flush.

Her: ……..

Me (realizing I am in too deep at this point, but I need to keep going): Okay, but it’s sort of different.  You see, your body fills up your insides so that you can have a baby.

Her: I don’t want a baby.

Me: Good, but stay with me here.  So, every month it does this and when you don’t need it anymore, it flushes out until the next month.

Her: Why doesn’t it just stay full?  Like, forever?

Me: Because a toilet has to be refreshed, doesn’t it?

Her: Does this mean I don’t have to flush the toilet?

Me: No.

Her: Who flushes the toilet?

Me: You should.

Her: No.  Inside me.

Me: I don’t know.  God, I guess.

Her: Why can’t I choose when to flush?

Me (now realizing I’ve gone too far): Forget about the toilet!  My point is that you fill up, you flush, and you do this every month.  It’ll happen to you.  Don’t freak out.

Her: Do I have to wipe after it flushes?

Me: Oh God…. sorry… I’ve screwed this up.  Forget it.  Here’s the thing: when it happens, I’ll help you.  Until then, let’s pretend I didn’t say anything.

Her: Okay.  It’s still gross.

At this point… I walk away.  I’m fairly much mortified.  In one single conversation, I have managed to liken my daughter’s reproductive system to a toilet, her uterus to a crap receptacle… and I’m pretty sure she isn’t wiping or flushing for a month.

Motherhood: 1  Me: 0     ………………….This is why I only had one kid.

Why reliving the pain is necessary

In our lives, we all have “before and after” moments.  There are these defining moments that literally define us, and change the course of our lives from the inside out. September 11, 2001 was one of those days that changed everything.  There was before.  Then there was after.  That one day is etched into my soul, like the ancient carvings in walls.  The images inside my mind tell the story life, forever changed for me.

This was a generational moment; the “where-were-you-when” moment.  I have a story.  I turned on the news that morning while the hubs and I got dressed for work.  I saw the first tower on fire.  And then…. I saw it.  That second plane, forever in a slow-motion loop in my head, slammed right into the second tower.  The camera was so far away from the buildings, it looked like a small plane.  At the time, I had no idea that it was a jet.  And what’s more, I had no idea that it was full of people.  It was unconscionable…. people?  In the plane?  On purpose?  I couldn’t wrap my head around the implication.  What did it mean?

And then the reports started coming in…. 4 planes.  2 crashed already and then… the pentagon.  And then, the lost plane.  And then… that plane down.

I remember the fear.  I remember the pain. I remember it all.   I remember the little dots that I thought, at first, were pieces of debris.  I remember the horror that sunk in when I realized those dots were people, plunging to their deaths.  I remember wrestling with the comprehension of the choice they had to make.  I watched the towers fall. One, first…. and then the other.  I remember the initial reports of “up to 10,000 people who could be in the buildings.  I remember the magnitude of that number to me…. 10,000 human lives.

But the thing I remember the most was the aftermath.  I was glued to the news for days on end.  I cried, sometimes openly, with the people who were grappling with the tragedy at Ground Zero.  I remember being touched by the workers, both professional and civilian, who showed up determined to find life in a pile of death.  But most of all, the images that I see in front of me, as I write this…. I see the people searching for their missing loved ones.  I see them; pictures taped to their chest as they walked about, doing anything to get on television to plea for the return of their loved ones.  Some of them found their missing person.  Many of them didn’t.  And that fucked with me.

I was a professional photographer, at the time, and suddenly I found more value in the gift I possessed.  I shared it with everyone.  One of the reasons I will *always* photograph someone who needs it is because of those painful moments after 9/11.  I will never deny someone a photograph.  It is why it will never be about the money.  It is why I share my gift, freely, with everyone I can.  Because for many of those people who wandered the streets with the smiling faces of their loved ones attached to their bodies – those photographs are all they have left.

It changed me, forever.

So why relive it?  Why allow myself into that space that is filled with so much pain that it’s hard to find room for light, let alone acceptance?  Because we have to.  My daughter was only 6 years old when that happened.  We shared a little with her, but kept much of that agony to ourselves, because her mind should remain unfettered by terrorism and the fear we had come to carry with us after that day.  But now, 10 years later, she is able to talk with us about it.  I can ask her questions and make sure that the reverence of that tragic day is carried on.  Did you know that she thought the terrorists were instructed by Saddam Hussein to hijack the planes?  Did you also know that she thought that it was the military that they killed?  She didn’t realize that civilians were in the building.

And this is why we have to relive it.  Because there is a whole generation of kids that are fed misinformation by the internet, ignorant adults and kids who don’t know any better than she does.  Sad, really.  But the truth is that it is our responsibility to make sure that those kids know what really happened.  We have to relive it because we belong to a society that forgets about things as soon as they are off the cover of People Magazine or off the home page of TMZ.com.  We have to remember, lest we forget.

This is not the time for conspiracy theories.  This is not the time for anger with the government.  This is not the time for retaliation.  This is not the time for blame.

It is time for honor and remembrance.  It is the time for love and for togetherness.

Go forth, this weekend, and love your fellow man.  Love yourself.  You are loved.  That much I know.  So love back.  It’s the only way we truly defeat the evil that changed our lives.

Just a friendly reminder

It’s the 9th of the month and, where I’m from, today is the day to check your boobies for lumps.

I have a very profound and amazing story to share that is, somewhat, unrelated to the breast cancer scare with  my daughter.  But also, not really.  I’m saving that for the month of October, since that is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  It’s worth the wait… I promise.

But between now and then, check.  Early detection saves lives.  And you’re worth it.  We want to keep you around.

It’s a battle of wills

Sometimes, it’s the principle of the issue that I argue about, not the actual arguement. To be fair, this is (often) why I lose arguments. Who argues about principles? This girl. That’s who.

It may or may not surprise you to hear that I am terribly forgetful. I can be negligent to a fault. Trust me, I’m no angel. So for all of the frustrations I have about others, sometimes, my faults are x2.

In one particular argument, I started it by not paying attention to details. Specifically, details related to the hubs. You see, he’s about 6’5″, and tends to bonk his head on stuff all the time. I mean, not all the time, like he’s an idiot and doesn’t pay attention. I mean, in public places where they don’t take the freakishly tall into consideration, he will, invariably, knock his head on something.

On that particular day, it was my fault. I left the visor down in his truck and when he got in, he totally cracked his temple on it. Yeah… ouch. I apologized, but to be fair to him, this was about the eleventy-eigth time I had done it. And he had talked with me before about it. I was just….forgetful. That was it.

It was a big argument that contained yelling and name calling. Him out of frustration, me out of self-defense.

The hubs: How hard is it to just *raise the fucking visor up?* You do this ALL THE TIME! Are you a moron or something?

Me: If I do this all the time, YOU THINK YOU’D BE USED TO IT BY NOW AND CHECK BEFORE YOU GET IN!

Word to the wise: this type of reasoning goes nowhere.

The argument comes and goes and before long I notice a funny thing happening. Someone is leaving the toilet seats up.

Now, I’m among the group of people who believes that you always put the seat down. Not because a lady might fall in, but because it just looks better, don’t you think? A seat up looks like it’s been recently decontaminated. But it goes deeper than that. I am crazy obsessive-compulsive. Shhh… don’t tell anyone. Most people think I’m easy-going. But I have my quirks. And I have a specific quirk surrounding toilet seats.

I read, once in a Feng Shui book, that running water is the energy equivalent to money passage. Put running water near your door = money comes in. Leave the toilet seat and cover up = you’re literally flushing money away. I know; I get it. It’s silly. But I read it, implemented it, and started obsessing over it since then. (**Side note: I am also a toilet-paper-over-fanatic. I *will* change your TP in your house if it isn’t correct. Seriously. It’s an issue.)

So when toilet seats start magically appearing up in my house, I know something’s wrong. And worse yet, I am compulsively checking them. I use the bathroom and put them down when I am done. And even if I don’t have to use the bathroom, I check to see if they are up. Alarmingly, they magically raising themselves.

Now, the really bright amongst my readers figure out, at this point, what I had yet to establish: the hubs is trying to piss me off by keeping the toilet seats raised. About 18 hours into his experiment, I figure it out, too. And I totally get the correlation. Visor down = seat up.
Except I don’t think he’s aware of the actual reason I keep them down. Nor is he aware that I am now spending a freakish amount of time checking on toilet seats.

But he is right – I am pissed.

And then, something magical happens. I decide that it is a foolish passive-aggressive game he is playing and I don’t want to play anymore. And although it kills me, I decide to completely take the wind from his sails and join his team. The seat-up team. And so I do. I use the bathroom and put the seat up. I walk past and see it down, I put it up. I figure, after a few times, he was like, “What the fuck? Who’s putting the seats up if it isn’t me?” In the meantime, we aren’t speaking. That’s a common occurrence in my home. Irritated = silence. Which drives me crazy. There’s nothing worse than a silent house, in my opinion.

But there we are. And now, I’m playing his game very well. Took me about 6 hours to really warm up to it, but now I am deliberately doing all of the things that piss me off *for* him. And I’m actually getting a cheap thrill from it. I swear to you, every time I do something that he would normally do to agitate me, I giggle a little. I come out of the bathroom and I can barely keep a straight face. It’s funny to me.

It takes him 2 days to figure out what’s happening. He’s flustered, but what can he do? He can’t be mad at me for joining the dark side? Finally, one day, he concedes.

The hubs: I was just trying to prove a point.

Me: What point? That you can be mean-spirited and deliberate when you are trying to piss me off.

The hubs: No. That I could find something that irritated you as much as the visor thing irritated me.

Me: Well, you failed. Try harder next time.

I could see defeat written all over him. I won. And winning is everything in this type of fight.

I did ultimately apologize, and have worked really hard to make sure I remember to put the damn visor up. God love the guy – he was just so frustrated that he tried anything to get me to see his point. He was pissed and I totally understand why. In a way, his little stunt worked. But truthfully, it was the most fun argument I ever had the pleasure of fighting against myself in.