Have you ever had a conversation with someone where it occurred to you that this person is suffering from myopia of the brain? They think they have it all figured out from behind a protective screen of comfort and privilege? Of course I know that we are all a product of our own experience and upbringing, but sometimes it seems that there is something fundamentally lacking.
Perhaps the ability to figuratively walk a mile in another man’s shoes is a rare ability. All it takes to get me foaming at the mouth these days is to watch FOX news for 30 minutes. The big catch phrase for the last year or so is “a sense of entitlement.” It looks good on paper, but the reality is something very different. Does someone who is looking for a job, but can’t find one, have a sense of entitlement because they think that they should be afforded the opportunity to provide a roof over the heads of their family and food on the table? Do they have a sense of entitlement when they have a child who needs medical treatment, but can’t afford it because insurance premiums would cost half of their monthly salary at a minimum wage job?
Or how about a woman who is rotting in prison for 10 years as the result of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, while her children left behind are funneled into the bizarre and profoundly broken foster care system, guaranteeing them a life of being in the system and probably getting into a lot of trouble before they even reach adulthood.
Well she deserves it they say. Her crime? Maybe she took a phone message for someone who called the house looking for her boyfriend, husband, son, etc. and unbeknownst to her it turned out to be someone looking for drugs. So she is charged with “conspiracy to distribute drugs” and away she goes into a prison system crowded with people who are in there under mandatory sentencing laws on ridiculous trumped up charges to prove that we are winning the “war on drugs”. In my opinion this war has turned into a “war on poverty.” Criminalizing any attempt to escape the rat cage.
Poverty, homelessness, addiction… these are all complex issues, and I’m the first to admit that I have no clue as to how to solve these problems. However, I do know that turning it around to blame those in need and claiming that all they are looking for is a free ride is not the answer.
I’m a rather curious person. And I’m also a curious person. I like to click on the people who “like” my post and go to their blog to see what they have to say. What’s their take on life as they know it?
While perusing others blogs I came across an article The S.A.I.D. principle, posted on February 9, 2013. It means Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. I found this on the Real Women’s Health Blog. She’s got some good stuff there.
While exploring this topic she posed the question: If faking a smile can make you happy, does whining make you more miserable? I think this is absolutely true in a most profound way. I know that whining never solves any problem that I have.
Nor does having a tantrum. But, but…tantrums are so cathartic, even though they do tend to damage people and objects subjected to said tantrum. Whining only turns you into a sniveling bowl of poorly set jello. It doesn’t help at all. It’s not cathartic, it’s not satisfying, and it does not help the situation. It just makes you and those around you more miserable. And it reinforces a sense of helplessness and being an all-around ineffectual person. “I can’t or won’t do anything to make this better, so I’m just gonna sit around and bitch about it.”
Years ago I sat through many a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon (for people who deal with other alcoholics). These people are ruthless I tell you! I’d be sitting around nursing my crappy coffee in a Styrofoam cup and singing the blues. “Oh woe is me, my life sucks, and this will never end.” The old wise ones would tell me things like: “Put on your big girl panties…. Get off your pity pot.” My favorite was “come down off that cross honey, there’s only room for one up there.”
I would of course become outraged. “How DARE you say that to me! If you had the problems I have…<insert horror story here>…blah blah blah.” Then I’d calm down, shut up and listen. Everyone who has to deal with substance abuse or mental illness or any other freak show has their own horror story. The may be different from mine but they’re all terrible.
I’ve listened to people talk about their schizophrenic or bipolar/alcoholic daughters, who would go off their meds, disappear from the face of the earth for a year or 2 and then show up out of the blue with another baby for the grandparents to raise. Then after another year or 2 the daughter would pop back up and say “Hey, I’m all better now, gimme back my kids.” And with the courts behind them, they snatch the kids out of the stable environment and go off on another magic carpet right, kids in tow. How’s that for a nightmare scenario?
I’m grateful now that I heard these stories. My daughter tried that with me. She did not even ask, she demanded that I take her children. And threatened that if I did not take the kids, I would never see them again. Fortified with the information I had – I refused. I told her that she needed to get straight, get treatment and TAKE CARE OF HER CHILDREN, THE KIDS SHE GAVE BIRTH TO. It broke my heart into a million tiny pieces.
I got a ton of flack and grief from people who don’t understand the labyrinths of hell that is untreated mental illness and substance abuse. “How could you do that, what kind of person are you that you would not take in those kids?” It cut me to the bone. I was a single woman at the time living at a barely subsistence level myself. I was in no position mentally or financially to take on the raising of 2 children.
Unfortunately she made good on her threat. I have never seen these 2 grandkids since. She disappeared again for a couple of years when I failed to meet her demands. I found out later that she gave the children up for adoption. She claims the state took them away. I don’t know what is true around this. But I do know the kids are in a stable 2 parent home, cared for by people who love them and can give them a happy life. Could I have done that? I don’t think so.
Am I whining about this? Nope, just stating the facts, Ma’am. Tough love is exactly what is says –tough. You might be better off walking barefoot across hot coals topped with broken glass. I guess what we have to do is pull way back and look at the big picture. Would things have been better if I chose a different path? I don’t know. I will never know. I just have turn left at the next star and head straight on ‘til morning.