Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fear sucks...and children are CHILDREN.

Could the news of the world get any worse? Everything that is happening lately seems so incredibly hopeless and scary. No matter what happens in the world, I always think about the kids involved.  Kids GET to me. 

When horrible things happen, I experience a peripheral trauma of sorts. When Columbine happened I was new to my career and I didn't have children yet. It upset me for sure, and I was a school employee, so it hit home. But when 9-11 happened I had an 8 month old baby. That whole thing was so surreal, but I clearly remember thinking that maybe we shouldn't have brought her into a world like this, and I was terrified to leave her and go to work. I had nightmares for days, the most vivid being one where my baby was on one side of a massive wall of fire crying for me and I couldn't get to her. It's been 14 years and I still remember that dream. I've written about Sandy Hook before, and it still really messes me up when I think about it, so I try not to. But man, that was about as close to home as it gets, with me working in elementary schools every day, having two elementary aged children myself, and discovering that the school psychologist was one of the people who was killed. I probably had nightmares then too, but I don't remember them. What I do remember is crying a lot, mostly in the shower or my car and praying like it was going out of style. So now we are all hearing about and seeing the horrors that are coming from the recent terrorist attacks and I'm so incredibly sad. I'm so sad and discouraged that I have a hard time finding words, but I have had my first nightmare. In my dream on Sunday night, I was driving in my car when everything stopped. It was night, and all the lights went out, my car died, and nothing worked. It was like everything died at once and in my dream I knew that everything was ending. End of the world, boom, we're done. I did manage to use the "wait, this isn't happening, wake up!" strategy, and I did wake up but I had a very hard time going back to sleep. I wish things didn't affect me so much, I wish I wasn't so sensitive. However it's unlikely that this will change now, halfway through my life.

I think that fear is probably the human emotion that brings out the absolute worst in people. Everyone reacts to it so differently, some with anger and hatred, some just retreat and hide, and some just start spouting ridiculous nonsense. I've come very close in the last couple of days to signing off social media altogether. I will not slide down the rabbit hole of engaging in all of the religious and political arguments regarding terrorism and the refugees because it makes me want to plunge needles in my eyes while jumping off a cliff. It makes me insane, and I really need what remains of my sanity. What I can't keep myself from doing is thinking about the kids, ALL THE KIDS who are being affected by all of this. I think about the kids who have lost parents in the attacks. I think about this sweet angel in the video above who is so scared and confused, and the blessing that his father is, and the relief on his face when he believes the flowers and candles will protect him. And I think about the refugee kids, a ton. There are a lot of personal stories about the kids online, Humans of New York did an incredible series about the refugees.

Trauma is a very tricky thing. I have never worked with children who have gone through the trauma that the refugees have. But there have been plenty who have been through gut-wrenching stuff. Loss of parents, exposure to domestic violence, homelessness, gang violence, guns and drugs, parents in prison, and horrible, horrible abuse. There is some trauma that my kiddos have endured that I won't even talk about unless I absolutely have to. Mike had to tell me recently to stop telling him details, and he's right. No one should hear the details I hear unless they have to. Here's what I know for sure, trauma runs DEEP. It lasts for a long time and rears its head when they think it's over. It's insidious. Those babies who have seen the horrors that ISIS has inflicted, it just scrambles my head. It's been like continual terrorist attacks for some of them, and then constant fear when they run. Dangerous situations, no food, nowhere to sleep, watching the panic their parents must be experiencing. Will any of these little ones ever be okay or will they all become bitter and unable to trust anyone? Children all deserve to feel safe, and when I see that taken from them it makes me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and stay there forever. That's not going to help a damn thing, so I keep going and trying and praying. 

I won't live in fear. Fear sucks. Of course I'm afraid, it's overwhelming to think that there is such tangible evil in the world, and that people feel justified in doing such disgusting, heartless things. Yes, it makes me never want to leave my couch, but I refuse to be afraid of other human beings in general. Evil isn't the norm, or the majority. It's a really ugly, oozing wound on an otherwise perfectly normal body. Those who know me well know how much I adore going to concerts. It's a huge part of who I am, I have always loved it and there is a joy I get from live music that's hard for me to explain. There's usually such amazing positive energy with so many people loving the same thing, it's my happy place and something I always look forward to. Sometimes I get show letdown. So for those monsters to mess THAT up too?  It upsets me, but I'm sure as hell not going to stop going. I will be more aware, and it will cross my mind as a possibility that someone could come in with a machine gun, as sick of an image as that is, but I won't stop going. I won't stop my daughter from going either, she inherited my music issues. I'm a cautious mother, but I have never wanted them to think the world is a scary place. They can ride their bikes and skateboards in our neighborhood, Maddie can go to an all ages punk show. I can't protect them from everything, and now the world looks a little uglier, sadly.

So when I think about how ugly the world has gotten over this past week and way beforehand, I will think about this precious father and the moment his son's sweet face registers relief and comfort because he believes his daddy. We all should.