Figuring it out, and why I wish I never did

They say that knowledge is power.  But I tend to think that ignorance is bliss.  Not knowing that you don’t know is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes knowing the truth brings pain…. I don’t always think that knowledge is power.

I had a good holiday, for all the right reasons.  I enjoyed time with family and friends.  I got to spend the days with my daughter and the hubs, and togetherness is truly what Christmas is about, for me.

But… in one fell swoop, I was suddenly reminded why I have a sincere disdain for the season.  I don’t want to share all of it, but it was related to the sexual abuse I endured for years as a child.  Suffice it to say that I really had no memory of the awfulness until Saturday night.  And it all came back to me.  With one swift movement, I went from trying to enjoy the day to really being consumed by the memories of one of the worst atrocities I’ve ever lived through.  It hurt.  I hurt.  I still hurt.  I cried and cried and cried.

I went on, through the weekend.  I mostly slept.  Besides still being on the recovering end of bronchitis (which is, in itself, exhausting), I just felt like sleep was the better choice.  I was tired. But I tried to be amicable.  Cheery was probably more than I could manage, but pleasant was as far as I could make it.

Xanax has helped control the mood swings.  Thankfully.  But unless there is a pill that makes you forget things, I sort of have to soldier through it, for now.

I fall between anger and sadness and guilt and self-loathing and disappointment and emptiness.

In a hole_Courtesy of Amy Holsinger

This is what I feel like.

For any of you who have faced depression and anxiety,you know what an oppressive companion it can be in your life.  I’m trying not to listen to the terrible things that are playing in my head.  But coming to terms with the terrible things that others have done to you can be a challenge.  I get the whole “forgiveness” thing.  Truth-be-told, I don’t want to.  Forgiveness is defined as releasing someone from retribution or debt; concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake.

Here’s the thing: I won’t ever stop demanding retribution.  I won’t ever release him from it.  I won’t ever conclude resentment.  I won’t, and I will not.  I know all about the bullshit, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”  Nope.  Forgiveness is also something you give to someone who deserves it.  And he doesn’t.

And I’m angry about it.  Still.  Knowledge isn’t always power.  I was fine in the blissful ignorance that I kept company with.  As far as I was concerned, I just didn’t like the holiday.  It was fine with me.  But now I know.  I wish I didn’t.  Knowledge isn’t always power.

“They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting.”

P.S.  My apologies to my readers.  How much does it suck to read this boo-hoo sad story?  I’ll get back to semi-normal soon.  I promise.

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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.

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.