Sunday, May 10, 2015

True secrets

" ...true secrets are more often not the positive sentiments we post about ourselves on Facebook or see reflected in Hallmark cards, they are the complicated feelings we struggle with in the dark because they make us feel alone."

--  Frank Warren, Postsecret

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Always -- The Societal Silence.

Earlier this year, I slipped on some black ice and landed on my face. I bit my lip pretty badly, resulting in a lot of blood, some scarring, and a tooth biding its time until a root canal is necessary. I was physically (and by physically, I mean visibly) hurt. But I was in decent spirits.

People rallied around me. There was an outpouring of support, love, and good intention. I laughed about my accident, got nervous about my tooth, but continued on. I was okay. And people were there.

Then, a little while ago, I was hurt much, much deeper. My Uncle Bill took his own life - my dad's little brother, following in his tragic footsteps. I learned long ago not to lock things away (a death sentence, that), but to reach out to people as often as is spiritually possible. And I did. I told friends, acquaintances, professors and colleagues. I made sure my loss was heard.

I left for the service.

I came back - and I was surrounded by joviality. My friends, my acquaintances, they asked (in good spirits) - how are you doing? And I said - not well.

Silence. Avoidance.

Those closest to me gave their support, saying they were only a phone call away. I thought - oh, good, people are there for me who care, they understand. But then, I cancelled a study session I'd arranged earlier, citing my inability to be a good host.

The response: "hey...what's happened? Are you okay? Cheer up!"

I asked for a 6 day extension on an assignment, as I'd been out of the country for 6 days. I was given 4, by the same professor who earlier had professed her unwavering support in my time of need.

Nobody seems to understand that this is exactly the problem.

There's this dreadful fear and avoidance of people who have suffered an emotional injury. When my injury was physical, people were happy, willing and effusive in their support. When my injury was an invisible one - an emotional, spiritual one - people shied away in fear, awkwardness, misunderstanding.

I'm blunt and explicit with my suffering. I have learned this skill over the six years I have been, what they call, a "suicide survivor". I know how to and am skillful at forcing people to listen to what I need to express - and I am very lucky that way.

But not everyone is.

I can't help but see the connection between the people around me who are afraid of my emotional burden, and the complete aloneness felt by my father and my Uncle Bill when they were most in need of someone to listen.

Do you want an understatement? I am fed up. This awful society is designed to silence those who most need to speak. The result is that they break - and then we are so ashamed that they have broken that we pretend it hasn't happened, and we shun those who dare to speak of it. I am so fed up.

I will not be silent. I will be as loud as I can about my grief. I will shout my hurt, not just for me, but for my Daddy, and for my Uncle Bill. And anyone who has a problem with that? Come at me. You come at me. I will bury you deep into the ground.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

“My uncle has died.”

That sentence says nothing.

It doesn’t say how a man 700km away went out of his way to make a broken girl feel his presence.

It doesn’t say how that man somehow always knew when to get in touch, always knew when she was about to shatter, to give her the warmth of his love.

It doesn’t say how an uncle tried his best to fill the void of a missing father.

It doesn’t say how he instinctively understood the bond of a father-daughter shared birthday, and made sure that lonely girl’s birthday was never silent.

It doesn’t say how a family tragedy has become a family trend.

It doesn’t say how much heartbreak can ripple and resound in a family.

It doesn’t say anything about four brothers, two lost.

It doesn’t say anything about two fathers, stalwart for their families.

It doesn’t say anything about two men, tortured in silence.

It doesn’t say anything about two daughters, broken and abandoned.

It doesn’t say anything about the anger, the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, the fear, the hopelessness.

It doesn’t say anything about the warmth of his heart, the power of his love.

That sentence says nothing.