There is no reason to doubt the good in people. Until there is.
Our lives are so small in the grand scheme of things – we wake up, we worry about what we’ll eat for breakfast, if we’ll have enough time to work out in the morning, if we finished that report, if the cable guy will show up in between the insane 24 hour window they give you…it is these things that consume us and become our “worst case scenario”. We cannot comprehend the things we read in the paper or see on TV. We have no context for starvation, or plane crashes or rape or assault…until we do.
And then, you are suddenly the newest member of a strange club who can no longer imagine the small things as “worst case scenario”. Suddenly, there is no small stuff. And you stand on the outside of the world who is making porridge and deciding between paint chips for the living room.
I feel like I’ve been inducted into this club a few times in my life. Being a single parent and recognizing that even though everyone says it’s ok, that people still secretly whisper about how selfish you are for making your kids grow up without their Dad and how given the chance you would bang any one of their husbands…sigh. When my dad died by suicide, there was a heavy awkwardness that enveloped all of my family and friends, this unspoken damnation that the church started and frankly, society propels. It’s as if you are tainted by it by proxy – that you are an unforgivable too. You lose interest in how your tulips are growing a wee bit faster than you might have otherwise.
Recently I have been on the losing end of someone’s last bit of rope – addicted and devastated and hopeless. I was not physically harmed. I recognize that there was an even worse case scenario there that could have played out that for some cosmic reason, did not. I recognize that despite feeling very alone, I had some very capable people around me waiting to find an opening to help. In the simplest terms, I had intersected with another human being at a very inconvenient time. How many times a day do we intersect with others? How many people have we crossed paths with who were struggling or devastated or lost and we didn’t even know it? How many degrees of separation align us with other people feeling the exact same losses and grief we might be feeling? The tricky part is how we intersect with each other at those moments isn’t it? Maybe we just flip someone the bird who cut us off in traffic. Maybe we snap at the cashier or kick the dog. Maybe we cut all ties with someone whose inconvenient timing is becoming a bit too routine. And sometimes those intersections are the stuff of movies – those life changing, mind altering moments that change all the small stuff into stuff you dream about being concerned about again. Suddenly, you can never go back to being who you were before.
I’m writing about this because it is likely not the most momentous thing that has ever happened to me but it is the reminder moment, the one that no longer whispers for you to stop taking things for granted but screams it at you instead in an earsplitting overture that you simply can’t ignore
Despite the very obvious drawbacks of trauma, there is probably no better cure for complacency, ever.
And you can repress it, justify it, organize it, distract it, exemplify it, martyrize it, disguise it or therapize it but trauma lives solidly in your brain, creating indestructible bridges away from who you were before to who you will become. You can’t undo it. Look up every country song if you don’t believe me. That shit sticks to you. And it can be a gift. Or it can be a curse. But it’s going to be a bitch of a process either way.
I want to find the right perspective here that helps me grow, that builds a bridge to my better self. The one who can grow tulips AND write blogs without forgetting to finish the laundry, still shave my legs for my hot date and volunteer with children. I want all of it – all the chaos and raw open wounds walking around – I want it to be for something. I want this man and I to walk away from this experience having seen how we impacted each other, how mistakes were made and past tragedies were allowed to drive the bus that collided us into each other’s way. I want Nietzsche and I to high five over his assertion that surviving is finding the meaning in suffering.I want it all to be a grand realization and Cinderella Ball of intelligent collaboration. I’m asking for too much again aren’t I?
No Golden Spirit awards?
Most likely, this man and I will lick our wounds separately, collect bricks for our ever growing wall of protection and remain islands in our search for meaning. I will write a blog about it. Based on his history, he will be in jail by the end of the week. How did this happen, this separation of “us” VS “them” and isn’t it funny that depending on who you ask, I can be lumped in with “us” or “them” on any given day? Perception is a fickle thing. A blessed, fickle thing.
What I know is as often as I have stood outside looking into windows that seem normal and happy and wondering how did I get out here? I know there is someone wishing they had my “normal and happy”. As Regina Brett advises us, “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” So here I am, confused, scared and indignant and I’ll take it any day over your burden sir. I wish you some peace by virtue of our combined chaos. And for everyone else…hug someone god dammit. The world always needs more hugs. : )