I've grown to dread the "why" question. In the past few weeks, a close family member has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, a few friends of mine made inaccurate assumptions that caused permanent damage in a relationship while another friend's son threatened suicide with a knife and was put into a 72 hour psych hold. In all cases, I hear the question...why?
While discussing the suicide threat, attention was turned to me asking why Sean chose the option of ending his life. The truth is...I don't know. I will never know what was going on inside his mind at that specific time. My friend cannot know what was going on inside her son's mind either. That's why the why question is a tricky one, especially when directed at a survivor of suicide, as if we somehow have inside information and veils the subtle suggestion that we didn't care enough to stop it.
As a society, we like to assign blame. I was Sean's wife so why don't I know "the why" of it all? My friend is her son's mother so why doesn't she know "the why"? As a wife...or a mother...aren't we responsible for our loved one's every thought and action? No. Still people ask the why question...and wait with expectation for an answer that we don't have.
When my very close family member is diagnosed with a brain tumor and asks why--why her when she's energetic, cares about her health and tries to live life by the rules? Why a brain tumor? Why now when life is unfolding in exciting ways?---there is no answer that will give solace.
When people make assumptions that are wrong but have already acted on those assumptions creating a permanent rift...it's easy to ask why...why were they quick to act rather than ask...why were they quick to assume rather than give the benefit of the doubt? Why?
Here's the trick with the why question: when it comes to human behavior, it's impossible to answer why people do what they do. Psychiatrists have theories based on research, sure, but even they can only make an educated guess. We layman--normal people--can't and shouldn't make those same assertions (although gossip mongers enjoy trying, I know). We as human beings have free will. No matter the dynamic of our outside relationships, it all comes down to individual choice. Or, in the case of the brain tumor, a situation outside of our control. All we can ever control is our own reactions to and thoughts about the situation. Asking why is pointless and only fuels an already troubling situation with emotion.
I will never know why Sean committed suicide. The why question used to bring about waves of regret (for not knowing), guilt (for not knowing) and anger (for not knowing). Now, seven years later, I shrug it off because I will never know that answer and, quite frankly, am sick of being asked the question. Only Sean knows. Just like with my friend's son, I heard people asking her right away, before she could even fully process what had happened, WHY...why would he do that, people asked her, why is he unhappy. Believe me, if she knew, she'd do something about it...but we don't know why someone else makes an individual choice or what thoughts are spinning in their minds behind the facade of a smile.
In all situations, all we can do is take full responsibility for own reactions and actions. Oh, how I detest the why question. As a journalist, I'm guilty of asking why a lot. Now I make sure I only use it when I know there's an answer. You see, there's not always an answer. Sometimes we simply need to roll with the uncertainty, the not knowing, the acceptance that there are things in life beyond our control and stop torturing ourselves with "the why" of it all.
Instead ask...what can I do to help? That's a good place to start anyway. Or say nothing and simply be there to listen. Even better.
About Moxie Girl Musings
Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Friday, November 9, 2012
As an American, I love our freedom to express ourselves openly. I love that we have comedians who make fun of the president or whomever without fear of persecution. I celebrate the idea that I can vote for one guy while my neighbor votes for someone else yet we're friends at the end of the day. I appreciate the diversity we have in the United States of America. I'm stimulated at the sharing of ideas and different view points; in fact, many of my closest friends have an alternate political ideology than myself and we have amazing conversations.
But lately one of our freedoms here in the United States is being misused as an excuse to abuse and threaten...freedom of speech. You see, that concept only works when respect is present and hate is absent.
Remember when we were growing up and were taught about bullying? Remember when we were taught manners? Remember when we were taught to respect other people's opinions? I do. I remember being taught by my grandmother not to say anything I'd regret because you can't take the words back. I clearly remember my mother telling me, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
Oh, but isn't that infringing on my freedom of speech?!
When your speech causes others to be afraid, to feel threatened, to feel put down or made fun of, are you truly being the best human being you can be? Just because you have the right to tell me that I'm a terrorist for supporting the President of the United States and threaten to stone me in the street...should you really say that? Just because you have the right to spread lies...should you? And for those Christians out there who joke about assassinations...would Jesus approve? (For the record, I, too, am a Christian and I don't think he would.)
As a writer, I appreciate my rights to create what I choose, to write this blog, to post stupid pictures on Facebook or sexy quotes on Twitter. However, as a writer, I also choose my words carefully, respect each one I write and know exactly what it means when I hit "publish" at the end of this post. I am conscious of the power of my words, the impact.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up to a barrage of threats against our president, hate directed at myself as a liberal, rants based on misinformation (hello, people, verify your information...ever hear of factcheck.org?), dire predictions of the future of America...why? Because we'd reelected our president by not only an electoral college majority, but by a popular vote majority as well. Oh, the horror!
I exercised my freedom of speech to object to the hatred I see being tossed about, asked for unity and the ceasing of stereotyping. The result? I had "it's our freedom of speech" tossed back at me. Really? You're going to defend being hateful, misinformed and downright mean? You're going to defend threats of violence against our leaders and your supposed friends because things didn't go your way at the polls?! Try to spin it as a joke?! Hate and violence aren't funny. I doubt that's what the authors of our Constitution had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment. I doubt they intended to create a nation of bullies.
There are ways to present your thoughts and ideas in respectful and peaceful ways. I know because I do it with many people with opposing viewpoints from mine every day--some of whom I'm going to meet for beers later.
I'm sad to say that people unfriended me over my objection to their hate language. Apparently, freedom of speech does not extend to me saying, "that's offensive to me, that scares me." That's the true tragedy in America today. We are a nation divided...and misguided.
The definition of the First Amendment is as follows as taken from the US Supreme Court: Freedom of Speech is the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas without government interference. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously. This includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute and is subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (for example, inciting violence or ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or a threat to national security.
Please note the sedition exemption--inciting violence and hatred. If this country ever has a chance of unifying, people need to get a grip, take personal responsibility for what they say (or write), educate themselves with facts rather than fiction, and start appreciating rather than hating differences.
Just exercising my right to freedom of speech and expression in the hopes of bringing peace, understanding and acceptance to my small corner of the world. However, because this blog is my domain, I operate it like a dictatorship and will delete any comments that spew the very thing I'm writing against. Thank you...may you blessed with joy and peace today.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Over and over again I encounter the same obstacles that have been standing in my way for years. It's like I'm in a distorted version of that movie, Groundhog Day, and simply can't figure out how to break the cycle of inertia.
Now that you're completely confused as to what the hell I'm talking about, let me break it down for you.
Despite my outward appearance of fierce warrior goddess (uh-hem), I'm often wracked with insecurity and mistrust. You see, here's a secret...even the fiercest of warrior goddesses have scars. Because of the scars, I am probably more sensitive than I should be. Yes, warriors are often big softies beneath the shields.
It's easy to say that I don't care what people think, but that's a lie. I do care. No, I don't let opinions stop me from writing what I want or essentially doing what I want. That's true. Instead, I do something more destructive and allow those emotions to build walls around me to keep people out. Up goes the shield, I stand a bit taller, chin up, smile in place, move forward, defenses on alert--full warrior goddess mode in tact.
Walls may be good in buildings, but not in hearts. I advocate taking risks--look what I do for a living! Writers are gamblers, whether we want to call ourselves that or not. I risk rejection every day professionally and deal with it as if it's nothing--because it's not personal. When it comes to risking my heart...well, that's when the fear bubbles up.
Like with the dating thing, I honestly just want to have fun after all the drama I've experienced so when it becomes complicated from the get go, I wonder if my desire to back off is legitimate or a remembered ache from the scars. I hear the whisper...protect yourself, protect your heart...but what's doing the whispering? Instinct or fear? Am I looking for trouble instead of going with the flow? Maybe.
Broken hearts never return to their innocence. There's scar tissue there that needs to be acknowledged as we move forward. But that's the problem--the scar tissue is hard, ugly and mars perceptions. Doubts subtly snake around decisions, fracturing certainty.
Were the naysayers right to question my career choice? I should have pursued something more stable after Sean died, doubt mocks.
You can't take care of the house in the mountains, you should have moved years ago when the kids were younger. You're such a disappointment, doubt says.
You're too intense, too MUCH to handle, doubt laughs.
They want you to fail, don't let them see you weak, doubt advises.
Over and over again...the same questions, the same struggles. I drive myself craaaaaazzzyyy with all this! I know it. But here's the thing about being alone...at the end of the day, it's just you and your history sharing the silence together and sometimes that history is loud.
Long ago, I learned not to create stories about a situation, to take things at face value, and that I can only control myself. I get that on every level, I do, and I can often adhere to that...until it comes to the really personal stuff like relationships (dating, friendships, family).
But I carry on--usually happy with my shield up and smile in place. That's what we do, we warrior goddesses. But that gets lonely...begins feeling fake after awhile...feeds the doubt. Above all else, I want to be whole and authentic...so I drop the shield.
I can easily toss off a comment like "mov'n on, staying positive", but when the house is quiet and I'm all alone, the stories come mixed with doubt and remembered heartbreak and all I can do is roll in the emotion that consumes me. And I wonder...will it ever end? Will there ever be peace? Will there ever be love again? Will there ever be lasting rather than fleeting joy? Will I ever be accepted "as is" rather than what I used to be, should be or could be?
Will I ever stop over-thinking every damn thing?!
Yep, crazy is as crazy does. Didn't Forrest Gump say that?