We Need To Talk About Connecticut


Capturing the grief that is so overwhelming we slump over without strength.

Capturing the grief that is so overwhelming we slump over without strength.

This post is going to be hard to write. I have too much to say and not enough writing ability to say it the way I think it. I’m heartbroken, but worse, I feel frustrated and helpless.

Why helpless?

Helpless because this is going to happen again and again. The variables that go into a situation where an individual decides to kill innocent people as some kind of statement are too diverse for there to be an easy fix. If you look at Facebook, of course, you’ll find all sorts of solutions.

  • better gun control
  • more people carrying guns
  • better parenting
  • better school security
  • more religion in schools
  • less violent video games and media

I could go on and on.

It’s easy to put a firm statement out there about what needs to happen so this doesn’t happen again. It’s human nature. If we think we know the solution then we can control the problem, and who wouldn’t want to feel like they have control over this problem? We never want to think of ourselves or our kids in that kind of mortal danger. We’d be paralyzed if we thought about all of the “what ifs” every day.

The primary issue here is not gun control, although I do believe it has a role to play, and it is certainly not about school prayer. Seriously, if you are trying to tell me that God needs to teach us a lesson by having someone kill 6 & 7 year olds and their teachers, then you need to take a hard look at the God you believe in.

WTF? Do people who post this think of the ramifications of what this actually means???

WTF? Do people who post this think of the ramifications of what this actually means???

The issue here is mental illness, and the lack of resources available to help individuals and families who are dealing with it. Even though it seems like there is an overabundance of little pills for all kinds of mental problems like depression and anxiety there is actually very little help for and understanding of major psychiatric issues and personality disorders. Add into that, the difficulty in getting services for psychiatric disorders and the stigma surrounding mental illness, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Psychosis

Addressing mental illness is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is fraught with difficulties. What do we do with a child who displays sociopathic signs? Lock them up and throw away the key…just in case? You may be thinking that, yes, that is exactly what we need to do to keep everyone safe, but what if it was your child? They haven’t done anything yet. You love them, and you’re scared of them at the same time. Do you condemn them to an institution? Do you hope for the best? Who do you turn to for help when everyone looks at you strangely when your child acts out? When everyone blames you because that is easier than admitting that mental illness is random?

I am not ashamed to admit that many members of my family have struggled with varying degrees of mental illness. Some have gotten better with intervention, some haven’t. Some refuse intervention, but they are adults and that is their right, I guess. Unlike physical illness, mental illness is still shrouded in shame and secrecy. It’s interesting to me how no one blames a parent if their kid gets leukemia, but if the child is diagnosed as bipolar then the parents must have done something to cause it. This type of judgmental attitude needs to change.

nutter

As it stands, I don’t know what the answer is, unless it is to say that there is no one answer, but opening up about mental illness and how to treat it is a big step in the right direction.

To quote President Obama from his Newtown Speech:

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

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If you are a reader, I would like to suggest you read “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. It is a gripping and chilling book about a mother whose son has committed a mass murder at his high school. The story deals with the aftermath she must face but also tells the story of how she knew there was something wrong with him from early childhood and the desperation she feels to understand and change it.

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From the blogosphere, I think everyone needs to read this. It is currently making the rounds on Facebook under the title: “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom

http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/

Written by a mom who has a son who, by all accounts could grow up to be another name in the news. As a mother I am so sad for her, but also want to be sure no one ever gets hurt by her son. I hope that this family gets the help they need so they can all be at peace. A needed perspective from the other side of the story.

Finally, I wanted to confess, I hadn’t cried about this news story since it broke. I was just to stunned to process it properly. Watching the President’s speech from Newtown, got me choked up, until he read the names of those precious babies who were snatched so violently from this world. Then I was sobbing, for the fear they must have felt, and for the anguish their parents are feeling now. And yes, I even feel a great deal of compassion for the shooter’s father and brother. They are left alone, without answers and I imagine a great deal of guilt.

Thank you for making it this far. There are a lot of blogs being written right now on this subject. If you feel the way I feel, please like or comment, but most of all share. Get the word out and drown some of the noise out there on the internet.

Now, if you’re a parent go and give your kid an extra squeeze. They will look at you like you’re crazy (at least mine did) but that is because they are blissfully ignorant of the fragility of life, and that is part of what makes them beautiful and precious.

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“Love Actually” and other musings about emotional energy


In the introduction of the movie “Love Actually“, Hugh Grant muses about going to the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport, witnessing the reunions that happen there and how nice it is to watch. I got to experience that firsthand the other day when picking up my husband from the DFW airport.

I was surprised when I got there because I’d forgotten how crowded the international arrivals gate can be. There were families of all kinds; some holding signs, some holding flowers, some just bristling with anticipation. I was instantly energized and uplifted although it took me a minute to realize why….then I saw my first reunion. Two people obviously thrilled to be in one another’s presence again. Maybe they’d been apart for a few days, or a few weeks, or maybe even a few years….who knows? So I sat down and watched more closely.

The same thing happened over and over. A traveler walking through the door with a searching look on their face….the eyes widening….a grin appearing…..a new purpose to their steps until they physically met their loved one. There were children screeching, running and being swept up into the arms of parents. Not to mention hugs and kisses all around. The atmosphere was amazing, and indescribably beautiful which is interesting to me because picking someone up at the airport is really such a mundane task.

Yet, I found myself reluctant to leave once I’d reunited with my loved one…with all of the requisite hugs and kisses of course. The world we live in is short on overflowing joy and happiness and I wanted to continue to be a part of it. However, reality is reality and my poor husband had spent long hours on a plane to get back home. Asking him to hang out at the airport and bask in the glow of complete strangers hugging would have been a bit much I think.

That experience got me thinking about emotional energy and how we feel and respond to it. It’s one of those phenomena that is nearly impossible to describe, but my guess is that most people understand what I’m talking about. For good or bad, we sense the emotional energy around us. When we are around genuine happiness we are drawn to it. When we are around anxiety and fear, we tense up. We can get swept up in anger and indignation as well as relaxing in the presence of the truly peaceful.

Are we all just emotional sponges?

A friend recently commented about how she doesn’t watch the news because she becomes very emotional and didn’t want to expose her body or mind to that kind of stress. At the time I understood what she meant although I didn’t quite agree with it. After all, if no one pays attention to what’s going on in the world how can we hope to improve it? I think I have a deeper understanding of her point of view after my experience at the airport.

We watch horror on the news and we can’t sleep. I know that happened to me after seeing the Batman premiere early Friday morning, and arriving home to the news of the shootings in Colorado. So we feel grief and even visceral fear about an event that didn’t impact us directly

We get onto FaceBook and start steaming at the rhetoric of some of our “friends” about any number of things. Politics, religion, parenting…you name it.  So we don’t even need to be in a room with someone to feel their emotional energy. If they are angry, and we agree with them, we get angry. If they are angry and we don’t agree with them we get indignant at least and maybe defensive and angry ourselves.

What does this emotional energy do to us? I have to believe that there is an effect, and not just in the moment. We may not have figured out how or why but we do know that there is a link between our physical health and our emotional health. So maybe the best medicine is cultivating positive emotion in our lives while minimizing the negative. Maybe we learn to let go of the people whose energy seems to be unrelentingly  angry and tense.

And just in case I get really down on life and stressed out to the point where I lose my perspective on things, I can always go hang out at the airport. That is where the love is.