Sunday, April 1, 2018

Processing...

A week or so ago, I started a post entitled "The Mysteries of Motivation." I wrote about 3 sentences and then... well... I got distracted and somehow lost my motivation to finish it.


I know it's been forever since I've written, and I'm not exactly sure why. I keep forming posts in my head, but I just don't seem to be able to put into words the things I've been feeling lately.

For some reason, the Parkland shooting and its aftermath really hit me hard. I spent several days sobbing my eyes out. In a funny and sad way, it's wasn't so much the horror of what happened, because it's almost become commonplace these days to turn on the news and hear that some crazy person with a semi-automatic rifle has murdered a pack of innocent people. No... it was more the reaction of the kids that got to me.

Much has been made and written about the eloquence and articulateness of the kids who have been spearheading the #neveragain movement. And listening to them speak does fill me with hope. But the images that really got to me were the videos taken the morning after the shooting, of kids in the streets holding signs and screaming.

There was just something about the raw emotion they were expressing that really tore me up. I mean, on some level, the protests are wonderful... and I'm so very heartened to see these kids channeling their grief into action... but the very fact that they should have to do it in the first place... it's all just so very, very wrong.



And then there was the very distressing news coming out of the Arctic. Not sure if this made it into the consciousness of people who aren't as obsessed with the topic as I am, but back in February, some very strange and unsettling things happened up north. Basically, a surge of warm air burst through into the upper layers of the atmosphere (called a "sudden stratospheric warming event") and split the polar vortex into several pieces. This caused freakishly cold weather to descend into Europe and the eastern half of the US, but it also caused freakishly warm air to surge into the arctic.

There was a general freakout in the scientific community as places that should have been frozen solid and still gaining ice for the season were instead melting in the dead of winter.
I realize this is just one weather event, and one can't necessarily draw deep conclusions from one event, but it certainly felt ominous, and I just don't think it portends well for the future.


You know, waaaaay back in my early 20's I had an experience that sort of altered the course of my life. I was still living with my Ex. It was the weekend, so we had his young daughter staying with us, and for some reason it was just me and her home together. She was about 3 years old at the time, and some event (which I can no longer remember) caused her to melt down into a complete and total temper tantrum.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, I heard my mother's voice come out of my mouth.


I'm sure this is a fairly common experience among young parents, but given the fact that I had recently become an "insta-parent" ... or "insta-step-parent" well, it totally threw me. It wasn't fear of becoming my mother, it was more that it brought up a whole pile of emotions from my own childhood, which, until that moment, I had pretty successfully shoved into submission.

Part of me wanted to have my own little meltdown, but, of course, I couldn't. I mean, really... what was I gonna do? "Sorry sweetie, I know you're screaming at the top of your lungs, but this episode has triggered some unresolved feelings from my childhood and I really need to go deal with them."

Anyhow, in that instant a whole bunch of things became crystal clear to me. Both of my parents came from abusive alcoholic families, and both had vowed that they would never do to their children what had been done to them.


And to their credit, they didn't... sort of.

While neither of them drank or was physically abusive, they both became masters of psychological torture. The thing is... they weren't bad people, they were both just hopelessly trying to outrun their own personal demons... as were their parents, and their parents before them.

The whole experience didn't last longer than a few minutes, but it was like I could suddenly see generation after generation vowing to "not be like them" but never being willing to do the difficult work of dealing with their own shit... and thus dooming themselves to pass along some new and different version of the same old shit to their own children. Because, you know, will power is simply not enough.

So that was the moment in which I decided that unless and until I could be damned sure that I'd dealt with my own demons, I wasn't gonna have children of my own. I just couldn't face the possibility of creating another incarnation of the family bullshit.



So what does any of this have to do with school shootings or climate change? Honestly, for the past 6 weeks or so, I just haven't been able to shake the feeling that we, as a society, have collectively failed our children. It's like we're all part of one giant dysfunctional family, and we're all just, as a society, doing the same things that my own personal dysfunctional family did.

We see the problems, but we can't bring ourselves to face the reality behind them. So we simply dress them up in different clothing and pass them along for future generations to deal with.

I don't know where any of that leaves me. As the title of this post would imply, I'm still processing...



In the meantime, life goes on. CatMan and I have been enjoying long bike rides. The scenery is amazing as usual.






And I even got up early this morning to open the curtain on the front window so Jasper and I could enjoy "Easter Sunbeam Services."


So it's all good. I can only hope that this new generation will be willing to tackle things in a way that previous ones have not.


Happy Easter everybody. May the season of rebirth fill us all with hope for a better future.


8 comments :

  1. I haven't had kids and am glad because I think that we are conditioned to react the way our parents did -- and I know I would have.

    As for the youth protesting -- more power to them. They are accomplishing what our age group failed to do. I am impressed the way the stand out to those who try to demean and belittle them. I think they will affect a good change and it is inspiring to see how they are carrying on after the horrendous act of violence they have had to face.

    Good to have you back whenever you feel like posting!

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    1. I find myself saying "I'm so glad I don't have kids" with alarming frequency these days. I do find it sorta ironic that I chose not to have kids for fear of messing them up... but it never occurred to me that society at large might be able to do it all by itself!

      Anyhow, I seem to be coming out of my funk, so hopefully I'll be posting a bit more often now!

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  2. I understand how the recent shooting upset you and put you in a funk. I think it made most of us upset and do some serious thinking.

    There are horrible things happening all around us, but I don't think we have failed anything or anyone totally. For every bad thing, I'm sure you could find at least a couple of good things that are happening. They don't always make the news, but they are there all the same.

    We definitely bring our experiences to the way we interact with the world which are different for each one of us. My parents grew up with alcoholic parents with many dysfunctions, but they were able to give us a stable background both physically and emotionally. I'm not sure how they got around it, but they did. It doesn't mean that they were perfect, but they did give us the stability that every kid needs. And we turned out reasonably well adjusted.

    Also, I really respect your decision to not have children. You have done enough self reflection, that I think you would not have passed on the problems of the generations before you. However you are trusting your instinct and wanting the best for the next generation. That is a very unselfish thing to do.



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    1. Awww, what a sweet comment. I know there's plenty of good happening in the world too, and CatMan does a good job of pointing out to me that when you step back and look at it, things today are much, much better than they were even a generation ago.

      Your parents are to be commended for giving you such a stable upbringing considering their backgrounds. I think it's something that many people simply cannot overcome. Of course, my family issues are much more complicated than just alcoholism... but I suppose everyone's are. At any rate, it's taken me a good long time to come to terms with much of my childhood, and sometimes it's still a daily struggle, so I am quite grateful to have the time and space to focus on dealing with myself without having to worry about any little lives with their own needs.

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    2. I am very thankful for my parents when I look around at some of my cousins who are in families where the cycle has not yet been broken.

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  3. I, too, struggle with the idea that I will have the same parental failings that my father did. For what it's worth, I'm seeing someone about it and I do think it helps. But it's likely I'll repeat many of the same mistakes, too.

    Progress, not perfection.

    The gun stuff is hard to take in but I'm cautiously optimistic that we can make some changes this time around. It sure seems like this time is different.

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  4. Cat, I love your honest musings. Like you, I feel such personal guilt for the many ways my generation has failed the next. I keep thinking, "We're smarter than this!" Why can't we figure out policies to take care of our people and our earth, and why is democracy so hard to achieve? When I think of how much our environment has deteriorated in just 50 years, I want to cry.

    You are someone who walks the walk, and I admire the many ways you strive to live a simple, sustainable life. Your blog inspires many, and if enough people follow a model like yours I do believe change is possible. So we keep on, and encourage the next generation to share their ideas and raise their voices.

    I love the photos you shared from your bike rides. Thanks for another great post, and happy springtime. xo

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  5. I like what I think of as your "brain dump" posts. I mean that in the nicest way!

    I think we all have different things that just really mess with us when we hear/see them on the news. It sounds like the school shootings are one of your things. And it is depressing to think about how many things, we, as a society, are failing at. But there are good things being done too. Sometimes they're few and far between, but they are out there.

    I am 100 percent with you about not having kids and not passing on similar issues in different packaging. I just wish more people would think about that.

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Thanks, and have a fabulous day!