Monday, November 21, 2011

No one is to blame

I saw a mother get verbally abused by her son today. Absolutely slammed. Loud, unedited, out in the street down by the hospital.

I was with my daughter. We had just been on a phenomenal walk together. So enjoyable was it that she had just finished hugging me tight when I squatted down next to her to see if she was ready to keep going (she wasn't. Daddy played Knight In Silver Shining Armour and collected us fifteen minutes later...)

Awesome view from the top

That fifteen minutes was spent waiting for our steed as an unwitting audience to this pained family's airing of demon laundry.

He was a nice looking man of at least late twenties. Bare footed, angry, hoarse voice. He laid into his mother and young adult sister as they walked back to her car. Unfortunately for us, they followed our trajectory to the park where we were going to meet Dad.

The LGBB was largely unperturbed but this was angry, angry stuff being shrieked and it seemed the further away we tried to walk, the more it followed us. I wasn't upset at them for doing this so publicly. I wasn't frustrated or felt any opinion forming in me. But I was simply gutted for all of them as individuals and a tiny part of me wanted to go and ask quietly if they were all okay (they clearly weren't and it would have been grossly out of line of me). So I did all I could do. I spoke to my child simply but frankly and honestly about it when she started asking me what was going on.

I told her, "Lol, sometimes people who are really hurting inside yell at people they really love. I think sometimes they don't even mean it but they just can't stop even if they want to."
"Why?" she asked me.
"I don't know. Maybe because they feel like nobody's listening..." I pulled myself up from saying anything further. It's one thing to be compassionate and feel empathy for others but I know it's not anyone's business to carry forward any assumptions about any situation. Not even the other side of their own sometimes!

I've been the yeller in my recent adult years. I've more often in my life been the one being yelled at venomously, though. It was par for the course in my childhood home. I know yelling is always masking something else. Sometimes it's so hard to get to that you yourself can't even identify with it. Verbal abuse can leave scars that cannot be seen. But it is possible to recover from it, whether the yeller or the recipient.

The anger continued. The son began using the most painful, horrible language. Lolly was safely in her own world by this stage, upwind of the situation, singing and swinging in the playground and recovering from her mammoth walk. I was upset and humbled by the events going on behind me on the other side of the football oval we were adjacent to. I felt so sad for all three of them. It seems he'd been ordered to go to Rehab. His sister was hurting deeply and saying "What about me?" The mum was at a loss. It was awful, simply awful.

Here I had just spent a great afternoon with my child, who I now wanted to hold so tightly..... I stood staring down at her soft toys that I had been ordered to bounce on a bouncy-animal and I wondered if the mother in my line of sight with the two adult children had ever imagined in her wildest dreams that the son who had a favourite toy he took everywhere - even on long walks and to the park - would ever wish her so much ill. Whether she ever imagined a day where he would be so pained and gripped by some drug that perhaps used to be a drug of choice but was now creating such a sucking black hole in his life that he would wish himself dead. Scream things at her that I could hear he didn't want to say but did want to say, all at the same time.

The unspoken cries for help transcended what these three were actually saying (shrieking) at each other. Each of them was like a wounded animal and it had gone beyond the point of any of them being able to hold it in. Doesn't only love really get us to that point? It was a real shame to hear what they couldn't. Something had broken down so much that this family was at a crisis point.

What I came away with, for I haven't stopped thinking about them since, was the wish for them that they continue - if nothing else - to hope. I really struggle with the generalisations and judgements that get brought out by observers when violence is brought up. Violence comes in so many forms and disguises. I'm not about to excuse anything. I have seen violence, heard violence, felt violence (all directed towards me and most often by beloved blood ties). But I do feel the need to resist the temptation to draw parallels just because what it looks like on the surface is a case of a user abusing his long-suffering family. And perhaps you will do that or go even further, just with the brief picture I've painted here.

Now, I hesitate here because I know I have absolutely NO experience with this kind of human condition - addiction. However, I do have experience with loss of all - and I mean ALL - hope, faith and trust. I do know what it's like to give up. Give over to the blackness that creeps up and chokes.  I don't know what ultimately prevented me from allowing myself to completely surrender to it and succumb. But I also know that at my turning point, when I found myself still alive, I was left with a glimpse of the flipside of that lowest ever point. And all I saw there was hope. Well, me and hope. Like never before, I got the analogy of having had the power the whole time to get myself out of it.... but I had to go through an entire journey to realise it.

Sound familiar?

This man and his mother and sister - and who knows how many others - were all caught up in the tacky tangled mess of relationship to each other. The thing had taken on a life of its own, you could almost see the "other" thing that was central to them all. It wasn't the man. It wasn't even his addiction. It was something other.... I don't know what to call it because I didn't properly look in. I already felt intrusive enough. But it was a really big illustration to me that we (humans, I mean, generally speaking) so often are so quick to make claims and definitive statements and lines in the sand. 

What if there was just the hope for change? And each time the scenarios played out in our heads, whatever they may be (he'll just lapse again, she'll just hurt me again, I'll just lose the only thing I ever truly loved again), they were instead replaced with the hope that something was going to be different this time?

Okay. Shoot me down, tell me all the ways you don't want this to work and that I am naive. And I'll send you some more hope. For the next millennia worth of "next times" if I have to. Because I need hope.

The opposite is what'll eventually erode and eat at you from the inside out.

Archived Posts


Related Posts with Thumbnails