Thursday, February 3, 2011

Here's me, getting going

This is not a Flamers Invitational. Not intentionally, anyway. But I am speaking to them, particularly after reading this. If you are squirmy in your chair as you read this...... then it could be time for you to assume some responsibility. Ready? Then read on!

You know, at first I wasn't going to write "to" this. But then, as the replies in my head that I wanted to write in various comments sections on several blogs amounted to post-size, I felt compelled to put it here (if for no other reason than to save other blogs' commenters from having to scroll so far to get past mine).

I'm sure whatever blog you read, in whichever community, you are going to identify with the scenario of death or similarly game-plan-changing event impacting a blogger's life so immensely that they do what they've always done:  they write about it. They write through it. In fact, they're compelled to write because they were born to write and as they have their blog already at their disposal, sometimes it's the only method of expression that does two things when they need to get it off their chest in doses: -

1) It puts a protective buffer between the writer and the receiver, mostly protecting the writer (as it SHOULD - it is, after all, their blog).
Case in point: It can be incredibly uncomfortable, for instance, for the mother of a dead baby to speak about the events surrounding the day her child died - they are captured forever on the movie reel in her mind like photographs that never fade, filed under "Archive Until The End Of Time" in her cellular memory, so it becomes sort of almost normal for her to describe the images her head and heart won't let her forget. Even though for her it is cathartic and healing to hear her own voice tenderly describing the final moments of her baby here on Earth, it can leave the person she's telling literally squirming in their seat or wanting to run out the door. Now, if the mother has reached a point where she notices this is almost always the reaction she is going to receive while she is doing her damnedest to heal (by communicating, as that is what comes naturally to her) and does not want to see the pain in another's face when they're hearing what she has to say, she'd rather just write it. From there, whomever chooses to read the blog has a choice (and a personal responsibility) to read or not.

2) It gives them a personal timeline through their (sometimes cruelly slow) stages of bewilderment out the other side to something resembling a normal life again. Some might say, "well, a journal on their bedside table will do that just as well, why blog about such morose stuff?"
Case in point:
There is no more isolating a place than in grief. Even when standing alongside someone who has lost equally to you (again, in my own situation I am just one half of the couple who parented a now deceased child so my partner lost just as much as me), the aloneness you feel is stifling. It creeps up and threatens to choke the life out of you. There is no happy. There is sometimes moments of laughter, but they are followed by "Oh SHIT, how could I ever laugh again?" moments, that seem to last months on end. Years, sometimes. It's a process that cannot be rushed. There is no time limit to this. But so many well-meaning people - who have NEVER lost what you have, nor the way you have - assume responsibility (incorrectly, I might add) to tell you and coax you, coach you, through your grief. Their impatience with you is harmful. And they don't even know it. When you tell them, they are defensive. This will never do. Writing in a journal just highlights the loneliness. But connecting with nameless, faceless others? Who have boundless capacity to support?  It is fucking PRICELESS, let there be no mistake. To me, it is better than the best therapist (although I hasten to add that the two in conjunction were what saw me through in various stages through my first 5 years from losing my daughter).

You know, what's next? Sueing a blogger because of personal injury or loss of life? Because apparently "sticks and stones will break my bones... and words too on your blog, you should have been more editorial on your own aching, bereft ass"??????

I don't think so. Come on, people. Get responsible. The world hurts. It doesn't stop hurting simply because a mother stops being real with her audience. If that is what she's always done, death and/or the destruction of her world as she knew it is not going to alter the nature of her bear-all soul. Why would it? Where would the tremendous gift be to everyone, including herself, in avoiding the hard stuff on her blog?

When I was down there myself, in that pit, so devoid of any will to live that I felt no pain, there were no tears, I had no rage, and certainly no thought of follow-through effects on my loved ones - I actually, honestly believed I would be doing them a great service by removing myself from their lives, seriously thought without a shadow of a doubt that I would not be as missed as my alarmed and terrified husband told me I would be, when I advised him quietly "I'll just be going now" - I would safely bet everything I own today on the fact that no blog in the blogosphere that had been writing about suicide, for instance, would have been the decider that brought me to do it if it had already been on my mind. In fact, it would have served to do the complete opposite.

I'm not sure I remember what snapped me out of suiciding in 2004. I think it was just a gradual incline out of that hollow hole. If a blog like Lori's had been around - I didn't get into blogging until I started my own in late 2005, and was a complete novice to such things as online support groups until a full year after Ellanor died and left me here to live what I hoped one day would be a very short life without her - I know without a doubt that it would have helped beyond any measure I have today, able-bodied and far removed from that scary pit of no-worth, no-pain, no-nothing to keep me anchored here. Even reading her words this week on those final moments for her dearly beloved husband, I have been snapped up straight. That was me. That could have been me. And him. My dearly beloved. Except I would have been the one he found. It makes my head spin... How close. How close I was. So accepting that I knew without any doubt what I had to do to make things right for everyone, least of all me.

So, what am I saying?

I'm saying, cut the crap and call yourself out on the masks you wear. If you feel compelled to write something that is genuinely intended to be compassionate and "just looking out for everyone" or however you have justified it in your own reality, I'd hope before you do write a comment that you have a water-tight reason/case. Simply sprouting off half-baked prophecies on how readers could be "triggered to do bad things to themselves or others" because of what they read is, in fact, incredibly irresponsible. It's not to say there is no validity at all, I won't go that far - mostly because I don't assume to know, either way - but it needs to be pointed out that all we have in this life sometimes (particularly when extremely, lower than low, low) is choice. If you have self-checked your reasons for meddling in such a fashion in someone's healing (for that is what it is), then why not also ask yourself these questions:  Have I got any power, let alone right, to alter the course of a stranger's life?  What am I really offering here that is useful? Is it just sensationalist of me and, if I think it's not, am I really being truthful with myself? Is there any possible way that this comment of mine could cause hurt?

And the big one: Would I honestly be willing to say this, with compassion and heartfelt care, to the person directly if they were right in front of me? I don't think many of these "do-gooding" (for I'm sure that's how they see themselves) anonymous angels of slightly-tinged malice would really be able to say what they seem so willing to do under the cloak of anonymity, if they were physically in front of someone already down there in the trenches of their grief.

Mind you.... I have met a couple in my time who have no Self-Edit button. So I wouldn't willingly suggest this as an exercise, not unless the bereaved had a cheer squad of clear-thinking supporters behind them to help them reason a case. For that is how it can be with blinding grief; it can render a previously level-headed adult to their knees, not know which god forsaken way is up. Despite their protests otherwise, sometimes they bloody well do need help and support and care around them. Hmmmm. Anonymous dissenters don't really fit that job description.

On the other hand, I'd like to change focus just finally. Let's not forget that whilst online it's easy to pass them off as "just trolls" or "flamers", saying all manner of hate-filled 'they can suck it's back at them in retaliation, we just feed the vortex. The lack of genuine care. From the outside looking in, we know they don't really care even when they have convinced themselves quite firmly probably that they do. I'm sure most of the comments of this nature, on personal blogs, are not done for fun or to inflame. They are done because they think it's clever they've thought of this twist that nobody else has mentioned yet. And I would also hazard a guess they'd be the first to feel shock and hurt (and tell you too, given half the opportunity) that you could have taken them "that way" and turn it all back around on you for calling them out on this when they were "only trying to help" or "think of other people" (where you obviously weren't... oh, shame on you for grieving so honestly, you dirty girl).

The crux of it, for me, is this - retaliation with venom is not how I prefer to do it. I'm not a hater. Even on the haters. It takes an inordinate amount of loathing for me to be moved to say I "hate" and even then, it will always be something not someone. Saint? Me? No fucking way. Seeker of truth? Yes. Believer in everyone's good? Yes, that too. Hopeful that delusions can give way to real, honest, soul-connected living? NOW you're on the money!

Look, call me naive but the only way to minimise this sort of pain - and it's been an incredibly painful lesson in family estrangement, etc., for me to learn - is to work on our own selves. Our own social masks and insecurities (there are plenty of them to choose from to start working on, privately). I'm a big supporter of lashing out when in pain, I really am. I advocate it and recommend it highly. Done it for years, myself, and not just quietly most of the time. I did it blindly once or twice and that's all it took for great offence (to me and the truth I had to speak about, as I saw it) to blow my life even wider apart. And all I had then, and now still, is my own truth and behaviours to work with - ie. I couldn't then and don't try now, to control or silence others (even though at the time I felt that was the obvious solution: they should just have shut UP ALREADY about how we were going about our grieving). But it'd be too easy for me to retaliate angrily. I've tried that one on in my early years, trust me, and it didn't sit well with me. To each their own, but I need to implore here that there are other ways than reacting with impulsive and sometimes (if I'm honest when I've done it myself) equally hidden motives, even if these are so hidden that they are hidden to me too - in my opinion, the best thing here is to say nothing in those times. Otherwise, if you're not sure where the depth/boundaries of whatever view you're expressing lie within you, chances are you're going to emotionally maim someone with it. So .... shuddup! Until you know better why you're saying it.

But there does come a point where the pain dissipates and you don't feel the need - and when that time comes, we're still just back to our living, breathing selves. Much better for the self if you hold true to your truth - that great sword of truth - without actually cutting swathes with the sword. If it is truly your truth, you don't have to go brandishing it about. It will act in genuine accordance with who you are: a brightly shining light standing as a beacon to others who haven't found theirs yet and who are too scared to look at your light.

Is this my (very long-winded) pageant wish for World Peace? Wonder if I'd be booed off stage if I were on one. Nothing like standing stark nekid in the light of your own truth. Far King scary, have no doubt!

So go gently, those of you who are writing through your rage and pain, whatever your situation and however well-read your blog is. But do keep going. And to those of you who are too afraid to stand in your own truth for fear of being cut down: Just do it. Speak it, live it. It is never wrong if you are really, genuinely speaking your truth from a correct stance (and not intentionally wishing to attract harm to yourself or others).

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