Arizona

I should have written this post over the weekend, and I meant to, but I honestly didn’t know what to say.  I still am not really sure what to say.  Yes, I have political beliefs that are important to me.  Everyone who knows me pretty much knows where I stand on those issues.  I have no problem enthusiastically discussing my problems with Sarah Palin, and I have spent many evenings debating those issues with Republican friends.  But Arizona?  I am, quite uncharacteristically at a loss for words.

I don’t know how to explain to my children how six people lost their lives because they went to hear someone they admired give a speech.  I’m not sure how to promise them that when I go to work, in a grocery store, every night, that nothing like that will happen at my store.  I don’t know the words to use to explain to my nine-year old son that a little girl his age will never have another birthday because of a sickness in a man who never met her.

When I first heard of the tragedy in Arizona, I was sitting in a coffee shop with my two youngest children, having just finished a morning of errands.  Looking at them, I realized for the millionth time, that something has to change in this country, if for no other reason than our children.  We need to stop.  We need to move past the pointing of fingers, of placing blame on one group by another group, and come together to make this world a safer, better place for our kids sake.  My children deserve it.  Your children deserve it.

Jared Loughner has a mental illness.  From what I have read and heard, I believe he is schizophrenic, or perhaps bipolar.  These are deep mental issues that need treatment.  Sarah Palin did not cause this.  Politics did not cause this.  My question is what can we as a society do to prevent these types of illnesses to continue until it is too late?  I believe that is where our discussion needs to be, not in politics, but in people.

 

Waking Up

“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.”  ~J.M. Power

Yesterday, I started to wake up.  I hadn’t realized before then, just how deeply asleep I was.  I should have.  I am old enough, and have lived through enough to notice my slumber, I would think.  I didn’t until yesterday.

I have spouted Oprah constantly to my friends, my family, and my blog at every opportunity. “Take control of your own life!”  “Live authentically!”  I have quoted and believed, while not actually doing it.

I have allowed myself to live under someone else’s thumb my entire life.  I have looked around and believed that this is the hand I have been dealt, and I just had to live with it, and accept it.  I realize now how wrong I have been.  I see, now more than ever, the obligation I have to myself, and to my children to want better, and to do better.  Again, an Oprah quote, “When you know better, you do better.”  I am going to make it better for all of us.

I know that this is going to be a hard year.  I am well aware that what I am about to put in motion will change everything for all of us, forever.  I am by no means expecting it to be easy or familiar, or anywhere near my comfort zone.  I welcome it all.  I want 2011 to be about taking chances.  About working hard, and loving freely and fiercely, and looking back and being proud.

I wish I could be more specific, and detail my plans if only for myself to process them,but I still have stalker issues, so that will have to wait.  I have a plan, though.  I have people ready to assist me in putting these plans into action.  That feels good.  I have hope for this year.  I am waking up.

Strong

A woman is like a tea bag.  It’s only when she’s in hot water that you realize how strong she is.  ~Attributed to both Eleanor Roosevelt and Carl Sandburg

In one of the highest compliments ever paid to me, my mother once told me I am the strongest person she knows.  I have never forgotten it, and never will.  I have repeated this to myself thousands and thousands of times, as a matter of survival.  I can withstand anything, I am strong.

This compliment has been repeated to me by other people, in different forms, but with the same central meaning.  My friends tell me with admiration how strong I am to have endured things I have endured in silence for years.  In a rare moment of honesty, my ex husband admitted to me that I am stronger than he ever was, something I have always known and he now denies ever having said.  I have always looked at strength as a positive character trait in anyone, but most especially in women, the supposed “weaker sex”.  These days, I’m not so sure I do.

What I have found is that the more strength you display, the stronger you allow yourself to be known to be, the more strength is required of you.  With every obstacle overcome, every challenge faced head on, the faster they seem to be thrown.  Still, to be considered a woman of strength, we face them all, and rise to yet another challenge, and reconstruct badly damaged and bruised egos and souls.  We may be strong, but to say that we are not permanently changed by each and every blow, physical or emotional, would be a lie of the darkest kind.

In the past year I have found myself wishing often that I wasn’t  strong.  I wish sometimes that I could retreat into alcoholism, or drug addiction, or mental illness and not have to keep going every day.  That is not the way I am made, and honestly, most of the time I am grateful that I’m not.  Still, at my lowest points, I sometimes fantasize about how easy it would be to have an excuse to give up, even if it was only for a while.  I hear about people staying in bed for a year after the death of a child, or having a mental breakdown that incapacitated them after years of physical and mental abuse is heaped upon them, and I don’t blame them.  I get it, I really do.  I just wonder sometimes about the human mind.  Why some people keep going, while others get the time to recharge.

I’m getting divorced.  Tomorrow morning, I will be in a lawyer’s office, dissecting the last 18 years of my life, and hopefully be given the tools to start rebuilding.  Starting over at 42 sucks.  It does.  I hate dealing with the process of disentangling my life from my ex.  I hate the vulnerability of doing all of this alone.  I hate all of it, and I know that it is going to get really messy from here on out.  everyone tells me I’m strong though.  I guess we are about to find out if they are right.