Facing The Monster


Accusers and accused. There are many of these both in the news lately. Whose stories are true? What side do we choose to believe? And why do the stories seem to play out the same way each time?

At least that how it seems to me, but could we change the ending somehow? A woman comes forward to accuse a man of some kind of sexual assault from their past. The man is a high-profile figure so the story hits the news, but we all know that these stories have struck a chord because so many women have had similar experiences in their lives (including me).

Once the man stands accused, he usually claims he didn’t do it–in a very loud voice–until it turns out that we learn he did because other women come forward, or investigation into his past concludes it was true. So why then do these men say they didn’t do it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially with the most recent allegations which are particularly disturbing to me, and I came up with this conclusion.

Many of us hold parts of our past we would rather forget (me included); ones that when we dare look back on them produce feelings of shame and regret. So rather than look at them, we compartmentalize them or even pretend they didn’t happen. We may actually believe they didn’t. Some folks are particularly good at this skill and humans are quite resilient and can learn to adapt to their dirty deeds and go on quite well.

What happens, though, when someone comes along and opens the door to the shame that has been hidden away and it shows its nasty head. The obvious reaction would be to say: no, no–of course I didn’t do that thing! It wasn’t me. That beast has been hiding so long it has become unfamiliar, a part of ourselves we have chosen to forget.

But, as this creature stands before us a while, I feel it should begin to take shape and start to become more visible. Letting it out of the box to stand out in the open and taking a good look at it instead of denying it, can actually help defuse its power. Because ultimately it is a part of us, no matter how bad it was, it was something we did. The first part of letting go is admitting to something.

At this point, if the accused could then face the accuser and simply say: yes, I did it, it was bad and I’m sorry I hurt you–how would that change the story? Would we all feel differently? Could then the accuser introduce forgiveness into the equation? Maybe. Hopefully.

And then maybe the healing could really begin: for everyone.

 

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Reality Shootings


It’s not surprising (to me anyway), that our society is crumbling under an opioid crisis, people suffering from mental illness or comfort eating and heart disease, plus all the many other myriad diseases and problems afflicting us nationally.

One answer seems obvious to me, part of it anyway. Many of us are suffering from PTSD and survivor guilt.

With all the horrible events that have been going on now for years, and I repeat, years—our brains are inundated from the media and our devices by the trauma of seeing the scenes of these events. Many years ago, we rarely would experience the raw horror that we do now–first hand (sometimes from a phone of someone right there): the noise, the blood, the screams, the carnage. And not just once, but over and over. How much can the brain  handle, day after day, year after year, without going over the edge? Mine is certainly on overload.

What is PTSD? It is caused by the triggering of traumatic events: disasters, abuse or any kind of trauma. It can happen when someone you love has been harmed also. Normally we don’t experience it ourselves unless we have been through the event, but what about now? Do you think it’s possible seeing footage from the phone of someone who was actually there during a shooting, would this do the same thing to us? How do these ‘pictures’ stay in our minds: people falling from buildings, human blood everywhere, kids running from a school or actually watching someone being shot…

Let’s face it people, if you are at all caring about your fellow human being, this can’t be good. We are pretty much experiencing these things as though we are there. It’s like reality shootings. Maybe they’ll make a new TV series. They might as well for as much as they play the stuff–and we watch.

What does all this watching do to us anyway?  How does it make you feel when you go out somewhere (or maybe you don’t even want to)? Do you check where the exits are now? Does your heart rate go up if you hear something weird? Are you simply numb to this stuff now? Are you mistrustful of others? Do you feel sad a lot?  Can you sleep at night or have your dreams changed? I know I have been greatly effected by the heinous crimes crushing our country.

Even if we weren’t at these places, we can’t help but feel: why these people? As we pour through their stories, it makes our story feel somewhat meaningless. When it’s a kid… there’s a collective: why so young and what if was my child? It’s so chilling.

And the roulette guilt of: I’m here, they’re not. I’m enjoying my life, those poor people aren’t anymore. My feelings of gratitude just get ruined by the extreme senselessness of it all. It’s just hard to hold those two feelings in the same space.

It’s all this nation wide secondary guilt because nothing is being done about it. We all just sit around waiting for the next one to happen, because we know it will, while law-makers tell us now isn’t the time to talk about any changes in the laws. It’s all so frustrating! So we just wait…holding our breath and wonder where will be next. What venue? How many? What city? Is there a person out there now contemplating it…?

How’s that for your health, while we think: will it be me next time or my kid? That makes my heart thump. This is why I don’t sleep. What about you?

So I ask: do we really need to see this stuff so much? Is it only me that thinks the perpetrators may sometimes do these things because they understand they will be glorified by the media? And all of us watching and watching and watching… Their sick moment of fame.

I’ve made a promise to myself: I will watch no more (or listen or read). What if none of us did? What if we heard about these awful things and said prayers for those dead (and their families), but didn’t pick up our phones, or look on our computers, or shut off our TV and radios? What if we refused? Could we demand from our media sources to stop flooding our minds with such gruesome images and sounds? Instead just report the facts and move on.

Sadly, I can’t seem to create change to laws by my vote, but I can do this one thing instead. It’s something that I do have control over: to reduce the bombardment of the grisly media show to my brain. And by doing this, allowing more space in there for good energy.

It’s ultimately up to us. I’m not saying we can stop people from killing, but maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming a more ill society than we already are, and if we do, maybe this in turn will help in the long run.

Scrooge Of Thanksgiving


As some of you who follow my blog know, I’ve been attending my local UU church a little more regularly. Today was our ‘harvest supper’. UU’s would never call it a ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner, because that would be labeling it something traditional and potentially politically incorrect for some. That doesn’t particularly bother me. What does bother me, is the Thanksgiving holiday itself.

It happens to be one of my least favorite holidays. I’ll probably offend people here, but this holiday has gotten under my skin for many, many years. To me it is the epitome of so many things that are wrong with American society.

A holiday that promotes gluttony and over-eating in a country that is already ripe with over-eaters is crazy in my mind. Food, food, food presented in excess and eating until you’re going to bust just really, personally, turns me off. Especially when you keep in mind the millions (billions?) of starving people in the world today. I used to fast on this day just to make a point. Giving out free turkey in a soup kitchen, now that’s a good thing.

And then we look at what this holiday is celebrating: the pilgrims and the “Indians” coming together for a meal and sharing food. Don’t even get me started on the state of affairs of the Native American people now in the this country! How the white man has devastated the land that was theirs and took most of it. Now we have currently left them in poverty, poorly educated with many of them turning to alcohol. Their whole way of life was robbed, yet we celebrate this day! Do you think they are thankful?

I hear so many people talking of the stress of it too: going to their families and trying to blend. For me, years ago being a vegetarian trying to fit into my in-laws was like a nightmare. This is NOT a vegetarian friendly holiday. Now being a vegan AND gluten free…well, forget about it! Thank goodness I’m divorced. Usually I just sit at home, work a shift or go out to eat. As a maitre de once said: Oh, Thanksgiving is a tragic holiday for a vegetarian! Too true!

And as far as being thankful: why save it up for one day? I try to be every day. Yes, I understand sitting around a table with friends and family and have a mass of thankfulness, but it seems very contrived. Just another Hallmark moment.

Or maybe I’m just a Scrooge of Thanksgiving? Maybe some ghostly turkey will visit me tonight and scare me half to death. And instead of Tiny Tim’s crutch there will be empty beer bottles to make me feel guilty. And scenes from Thanksgiving to come flashing before me…. and yet, and yet…. Nah, I still think I’d rather stay home and read a book.