Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Tears Do Mean Something

It’s been over two weeks since sadness fell over Newtown, CT, and the world. I haven’t felt much like writing since then, and it took me a week before I could begin reading the social media. Every post, every tweet, every blog, every comment, every picture sent tears down my face and weighed down my heart with an ache almost unbearable. I knew I was not alone. I knew that every person around the world who heard this story felt the same way. I knew because I read, and I read, and I read.

It was story after story of parents who were terrified to drop their children off at the doors of their schools, moms who slept with their children as to not allow even an inch of space between them and the monsters that may prey upon them, teachers who played out scenarios in their heads as to how they would protect their students if they were called to action one day, and people of all kinds who just couldn’t get a handle on the grief that set over them and the sadness they felt for the families who lost their precious loved ones in one of the most unimaginably, horrific acts to ever touch our lives.

Some people’s way to express emotion was to write poems, draw pictures, or offer prayers. Those all choked me up, too. But, then, I am so upset to say that some of my feelings of heartache and sadness turned to anger and resentment. For, as I read the comments to some of these beautiful messages, I found that not everyone was “agreeable.” I found that some people decided to use the comments section as their soapbox for their views on God and gun control. Here someone was trying to offer sentiments in the best way they knew how, and someone else had to poo poo on it with their social, religious, or political views.

I am all for freedom of speech, but come on folks, let’s practice common human decency here. If you want to start your own post or blog on how we should get rid of all guns or how God doesn’t really exist, go for it. Don’t dump that on someone else’s heartfelt message—whether you agree with what they wrote, or not. Of any time to show kindness and compassion, this is it.

I saw one message that questioned why people were expressing their emotions all over social media. This person said it seems like these people are trying to make this all about them when it has nothing to do with them. This person said, “Pick up a phone and call your mom or your friend if you need to get it off your chest.” In so many words, this person said, no one wants to read about you feeling sorry for yourself when it wasn’t you who lost a child or a family member.

My first reaction was to be angry and defensive, but I did not react at all. Instead, I went off and thought about an appropriate response. I decided maybe it was unfair for me to be angry with this person’s attack. I knew this person felt as sad about what happened as the next person. But, still, I do feel the outpouring of emotion in the social media does need a defense.

I use Facebook as part of “my community.” I won’t share everything with this community, but it’s nice to know I have its ear 24 hours a day, even when I do not require a response. For many, including me, it’s nice to know that other people have the same feelings and are grieving, too. When I try to sleep at night and can’t stop thinking about how scared those children were or what they were witnessing before their own lives were taken, it helps me to open my computer and see that a friend has written on a similar struggle.

Yes, we could call a friend or family member and get some of this off our chest. But, I’m a little different. I will admit I am not great about getting “deep” with people. I am a little guarded and don’t usually let people see the vulnerable side of me. But, when I write it, it feels safer. Sometimes I want my loved ones to know I am hurting, but blogging about it is my passive-aggressive approach.

I saw a college friend over the holidays, who happened to be friends with the sister and brother-in-law of the Sandy Hook Guidance Counselor who lost her life. I’ve known this friend for 20 years, and we are very close. But, we both hesitated bringing up the topic because we knew what it would lead to. A couple of glasses of wine later, we dove in. The tears flowed and the hours passed. It was cleansing, but exhausting. Writing is definitely the easy way out of our emotions, for many of us.

Do I expect sympathy? No, of course not. Nor, do I believe, do the others who express their feelings in writing. But, does it provide comfort to know there are many others out there feeling the same? Having the same sleepless nights? Shedding the same tears? Asking the same questions? It does to me. And, person who questioned motives, please find compassion in you to avoid judgment this time.

How cynical are you to think that people have an ulterior motive here? I have faith in human empathy. If you don’t feel the need to discuss your feelings in an open forum, that’s fine. I hope my friends and digital acquaintances continue to write about this. We are a community. The more we talk about this, the more it will stay to the forefront, and the more we will fight to protect our children from potential future indescribable acts. I refuse to sweep it under the rug. We owe it to those babies … and to our own.

You are right. These were not my children. These were not my brother’s children. These were not my friend’s children. But, these were children. And, my tears for them do mean something.

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