Sunday, December 4, 2016

Stop bullying.

At the end of my work day, when there are only a few minutes left until I can leave and I don’t want to stop in the middle of something, I read the news online. I don’t particularly like reading the news, because there’s rarely anything happy to be found there. A few days ago was a perfect example.

The first headline that jumped out at me was about a teenager who killed herself in front of her family. She was a senior in high school and had been bullied for her weight - cyberbullied. No one had nerve enough to harass her in person. Instead, these cowards who thought they were so much better than she sent text messages and created Facebook pages to bully her. She killed herself because of words said by faceless people. 


The article told of how her family pleaded with her to not pull the trigger, and with them there to witness it, she shot herself in the chest.

I can’t get that mental image out of my head. It’s been haunting me for a couple of days now, mainly because it ties in with the reason I’ve been avoiding Facebook. I’m disgusted with the way so many people I consider friends are behaving lately. Mostly it has been political comments, but there are so many other comments that make me wonder if anyone really thinks about what they’re saying anymore, especially when it is being said behind the safety of a computer screen.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with social media from the beginning. People speak their minds, exercising their freedom of speech, without a thought as to how others will react. What to you might seem a completely acceptable thing to say can hurt or anger someone else. Words are THE most painful weapons, because they cut silently, deeply and without witness.

Reading about a young life lost because of the pain caused by words got me to thinking…have I ever been a cyberbully? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that yes, I have. We’ve all been bullies. Think about it…have you ever written a scathing review of a business on Yelp? Left negative feedback on eBay or Amazon that was maybe a little more harsh than it had to be? How many Facebook posts have you written about the stupidity of people who voted differently than you in the recent election? 

Would you have the nerve to say the exact same things face to face?

How many times have you left vague replies to a friend’s post, clearly implying you disagree or are judging that person? Have you ever got into a heated argument with a total stranger in the replies to a friend’s post? Did it make you feel superior to that person to tell them your truth?

That is an important part of all this by the way. Your truth. Not the truth, even though that might be what you have convinced yourself. Everyone has their own truth. 

Example: I am not a Christian. I do not believe in the Bible, Jesus, God. None of it. So when you post things like, “Thanks be to God” over the fact that your child survived his/her cancer, do you stop to think how those of us whose children didn’t survive might feel? God chose to save your child, but chose to let mine die? Is that the message? If so, this god is a huge asshole. That is my truth. 

Another religious comment that seems innocent is, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” What you should be saying is, “Jesus is the reason for your season,” because he is not the reason for mine. The things that I celebrate this time of year have nothing to do with Christianity. They have to do with my truths.

Those are fairly innocuous examples. They anger me, but they don’t harm me. I’m not insulted by them; merely disgusted with their presumptuousness. Recently though, the comments on politics have reached the point of (what I consider to be) cyberbullying. When you lambaste an entire group of people because they voted differently than you, calling them names or saying they’re all ignorant, uneducated…stupid, does it occur to you that not everyone who will see it agrees with you? Does it occur to you that you are criticizing people you supposedly consider “friends”? Do you care?

We speak without thought or tact, because we don’t have to see the reaction of others to our words. That is bullying. If you only feel better about yourself when you’re bringing someone down, you are a bully. I grew up with someone like that and it took nearly 50 years before I was able to say, “No more!” and cut that person from my life. Lives are being lost because words are being said without care. 

I had no choice but to watch my son die. He wanted to live - more than anything, he wanted to live! Yet I still had to helplessly watch him die. The parents of this young girl also had to helplessly watch their child die, but it didn’t have to be that way! We need to stop spewing hate and judgement. We need to be spreading acceptance, tolerance and love. We especially need to be teaching our children to do the same.

A bullet to the chest, as she cried about not being able to deal with it all anymore. How is this the world we live in now? How? Because we are creating that world with ever word we wield. How dare we use those weapons so carelessly?

I love seeing posts about your child’s baseball team winning, new jobs, kids in Halloween costumes, couples in ugly sweaters…I want to be there to cheer you on as you fight tough life battles. I cry with you when you suffer a loss. I don’t want to be there when you post something vague, seeking attention without explanation. I don’t want to “like” a post where you are criticizing an entire group of people all because you don’t agree with them. I don’t want to help you feel better about yourself by bringing someone else down.

Social media should be fun. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Afraid to hope.

For someone who operates on 90% emotion and 10% control, I try very hard to appear calm, cool and collected. Or, at the very least, I try to control which emotion is visible. The emotion that is easiest to let loose is anger, because being an angry person who scares the hell out of people is preferable to being that chick who cries over everything. The sad truth is, I do cry over a lot of things. I just try to do it where only a select few...ok, a select two...see me do it.

In the past few months, life has held many twists and stabs. I've fought very hard to keep it all under control so no one sees that, emotionally, I am like a ball of rubber bands, tightly wound. Occasionally, a band snaps, but the majority of the ball is still holding together, albeit tightly. My fear is that soon, numerous bands will snap at once.

Have you ever seen the inside of a golf ball? This is what I fear is eventually going to happen to all of the emotions I fight so hard to keep in.

I want peace for us. I want a place to call home, not an apartment with loud neighbors and apathetic management. I want a place for my dog to roam off leash. I want to be able to paint a wall black if the mood hits me. To that end, we put an offer on a house a few days ago and found out today that the seller has accepted our offer. In two months, we will have a home. Will it be the home I'm seeking? It is half the size of the last house I lived in, and I am not good at paring down. In fact, nothing makes me want to cut a bitch quicker than being told, "Just get rid of stuff." I am not a hoarder, but I have 24 years worth of memories in the shape of toys, pictures, books, gifts from my children...all of which are not just "stuff" to be discarded. Every rock, seashell, fairy, drawing and letter is precious to me. The trick is going to be ignoring those who feel they have the right to tell me what to do and finding a place for my treasures.

So, will this house be the home I am looking for? I don't know. All I know is that I want it to be, for a while at least. This will be our 4th move in less than 3 years. Just the thought of movers, unpacking, and cleaning another apartment makes me tired to my bones. But the thought of coming home to a house that is mine, with a yard that I can garden in...ok, let's be honest...a yard that I can drink wine in and look at, is what is driving me.

But underlying that is still the nagging thought that California is not where we are meant to be. Mike is embarking on some interesting changes professionally. I may finally be achieving some professional satisfaction soon too. Maybe the coming months will reveal a love for this place that, thus far, I have been unable to find. Someone told us recently that we don't live in San Diego; we just work here. That could be true. We've been here almost two years and have spent that time living in apartments, going to jobs, shopping in the community, but never actually becoming part of  the place. Maybe living in a neighborhood and not just a building is the part that has been missing.

I want so much for all three of us, yet I feel like we're all chasing after that carrot that is eternally just out of reach. I am just hoping that reaching this point of emotional stretch, with the bands feeling as though they are about to snap, is as far as it will go and that the pendulum will finally start to swing the other way and some relaxation - both physical and mental - is finally coming our way.