HAPPY SURVIVAL: THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE AFTER TRAUMA

unsplash-logoSaffu

People run from life in many ways. We can want a hug so desperately and yet recoil from it. We can crave love more than anything and build fortresses to keep it away. There’s this idea that the more bridges we burn, the harder it will be to go back to the things that caused us pain. Sometimes, that is true, but, at the same time, we keep looking for that place where we belong, and, in some situations, trying almost too hard to fit in, until we accept, with a great deal of shame, that we need to move on. Reaching out to people is overwhelming and terrifying, but we try it, and when we feel unheard, we vanish again. So many goodbyes––until we don’t want to do the relationship thing anymore or the intimacy thing or ask anyone for help or love or whatever the hell we need. Intimacy doesn’t seem worth any of that, and we lose interest. We shut down, close our doors for business, and thrive in our safe, predictable worlds.

We wonder if we are crazy, but people tell us only sane people question their sanity. Sometimes we think we’re monsters, but we come to learn that monsters feel no guilt, no shame, and no love. We do love, from a distance and we absorb the world’s pain.

In my twenties and beyond, I kept changing my name, my hair color, my address, my phone number, my job–you name it. It was as if I couldn’t run fast enough, couldn’t hide in a safe enough place. Without realizing it, I was running away from the trauma of childhood and teen years.

At some point in the healing process, something tells you that you don’t need to hide anymore. You don’t need to run, so you try not to. What’s unsettling is how far you can come in your healing and still get thrown back there in a heartbeat.

Progress can seem slow, but it keeps happening. I’m not a patient person, but I’ve learned to be patient about healing. I’ve had to, and I love healing because I’ve reaped its rewards. Often, I look back and ask myself, “How did I survive, being such an idiot for most of my life?” That may seem harsh, but in light of how far I’ve come, it makes sense. We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken. We can’t benefit from learning the truth about ourselves until we feel safe in rejecting the lies.

As survivors, we want this healing for everyone while needing to learn, too, that people are only ready when they’re ready. And it’s painful when we love people who need desperately to heal but remain trapped in their fear. Sometimes we wish we could absorb every bit of their agony; even it means holding on to all of it ourselves because we know we can handle it. We have.

We can’t get stuck in that inability to forgive either. It’s understandable because we witness so much unnecessary cruelty toward ourselves and others, and we don’t know what to do with that. For instance, how do you come to terms with the fact that someone willfully tried to destroy another person, or that person’s reputation, or his or her life, that they did everything in their power to annihilate another human being?

What I realized, quite a long time ago, is that revenge and punishment are not up to me. Divine retribution happens without the least bit of my help—no matter how we interpret divinity and even if we are divinity in the sense that we represent it in the universe. It works that way because we can’t destroy people without destroying ourselves. If it’s destruction we want, it’s destruction we’ll get, and it’s never one-sided.

A better solution is to keep following our path and goals and  let go of the burdens people give us to hold. The weight comes from feelings of not belonging or being worthy and accepted as we are. It comes from others mischaracterizing us or our actions to suit their agendas and punishing us for not being who they need us to be, not wanting what they require us to want.

We have to find our own happily ever after. It’s undoubtedly not the same for everyone, and that’s another place we can get stuck—wanting what we don’t have and realizing it’s not even what we want but what we think we’re supposed to want and have. Most people want to find that special someone, get that dream house and job. From the time I was eight years old, what I wanted was different—maybe, in some ways, the opposite of what everyone else wanted. It took me a while to realize that I have everything I’d ever wanted or needed in my life and, while I may have moments of feeling sad for another or sad for the world, I am happy.

One thing I’ve always known is to never give up. It does get better, a little at a time, but it gets so much better. Our survival not only gives hope to others but sharing our experiences allows us to help in their healing. We help each other, yes, and we give each other the love that’s been so hard for us to ask for or accept.

I’m not a religious type, but the prayer below has always been my favorite. It can certainly get you through it. ❤️

Copyright © Kyrian Lyndon November 2018

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE “ROSEANNE” MESS

26477590124_e409feeeb6_z

When you try to look at something from all angles, you make no friends, but I’m compelled to do it anyway. That said, I hesitated to write this because as others have wisely pointed out, horrible things are happening all around us every minute of every day, and here we are battling over a comedienne and the “right” to see a TV show.

Many seem to think this controversy is about one person insulting another. They’ve brought up Joy Behar, Jimmy Kimmel and other liberals who have “gotten away with it.”  I don’t watch The View or Jimmy Kimmel, but I do agree that anyone who has made bigoted statements or who does so in the future, should be called out the same way and, if necessary, face appropriate consequences.

I didn’t defend Michelle Wolf for roasting Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Kathy Griffin and her decapitated Trump photo. I did notice, however, that the same people who were appalled by those two incidents are okay with Roseanne’s crap and Ted Nugent’s crap. So, it’s kind of like pot/kettle. There’s a lot of, “but he said, but she said, and hey, he started it.” It all seems rather childish, except the anger we feel toward each other knows no depths, and the venom feels poisonous.

As far as comediennes go, I have always liked the ones who target institutions, government, and politicians. All of that to me is fair game. I’ll admit, too, there are people I don’t mind them poking fun of, but those people are usually guilty of offending us and putting themselves out there in such a way that you kind of feel they deserve what they get. They are comedy gold, and I understand that.

But this issue is not about insulting someone. It’s about destructive and divisive hate speech, i.e., racism. There’s a big difference.

Some people claim that what Roseanne said is not racism. Let’s see, there was the “Roseanne didn’t know Valerie Jarret was black because she’s light-skinned” argument. Except she knows damn well who Valerie Jarret is, enough to still be talking about the woman when Obama is not even in office anymore. Roseanne follows politics obsessively and knows all the players. She has made a run for President. At the very least, she didn’t know Ms. Jarret wasn’t black, but the ‘ape’ reference was not  a coincidence. And it wasn’t the first time Roseanne tweeted something racist.

Then there was, “Why are they offended if they believe humans evolved from apes?” “They” includes all liberals, I presume, because, of course, they must all believe the same thing when it comes to creation, right? Wrong.

People who make this argument don’t seem to understand what it means to evolve. Per Merriam-Webster, it means to undergo an evolutionary change. It is “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state.” So, you don’t evolve from something and still appear to be that something.

But the people who make that reference know this. They know full well that the ape reference is used to dehumanize and to subjugate. They did it to Michelle Obama. In fact, they were downright merciless in describing Mrs. Obama.

Those who make this reference believe they can pass it off as an innocent joke, or harmless insult, and that the rest of the world will be stupid enough to believe it.  Sorry, but no.

Alas, there is the freedom of speech cry! That is a good one when all else fails. People don’t seem to understand the First Amendment either. They think it means there should be zero consequences regardless of what we say, that no one should react unfavorably or reject it or use his or her power to handle the situation. These same people feel differently, however, when someone is saying something that they don’t like. Yes, double standards, indeed, but we’ll get to that.

Let’s get to that right now, in fact, because double standards exist everywhere between genders,  parties, religions, races, and more.

And, of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but when some celebrity gets caught with his or her pants down, as many have, I don’t care about their politics. It is not about left or right, and it shouldn’t be. It’s about right or wrong.

Yes, sometimes Democrats get away with things. Sometimes Republicans do. Just look at the “C” word argument. Both Roseanne and Ted Nugent have used the word against Hillary Clinton. That was way before Roseanne got a TV show and before Ted Nugent got invited to the White House.

The president gets away with saying despicable things all the time.

Similarly, people call out the predators and pedophiles in Hollywood, as they should, but then turn a blind eye to predators and pedophiles in the Catholic Church. They think because there are predators and pedophiles in Hollywood, all Hollywood celebrities are predators and pedophiles. No, wait—all liberals, according to some. Imagine if anyone said that because of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, all Catholics, or all Republicans must be pedophiles? Yes, it is absurd.

FFS, must everything be a competition?

Now, I am not here to defend ABC. Roseanne was the same person when they hired her. They knew who she was. Apparently, she also knows who she is, as she had serious reservations about doing the reboot in the first place.

It would have been one thing if she’d come on playing the character she played in the 90s, and the show didn’t have plans to explore and possibly heal the divisiveness with a real-life Trump supporter as the star pretty much playing herself, and liberal producers and writers. On the one hand, they were trying too hard to appease both sides. On the other hand, they were encouraging the series star in her belligerence and paving the way for her downfall.

Yeah, it was a bad idea.

And many won’t like this, but I do feel empathy for Roseanne. I can’t help that.  I do believe that this fallout has been hell for her and that she is not doing well. Besides that, something is clearly wrong with her.

Conservatives who watched her screech the national Anthem hated her then, and they hated her for many years after that, as she wasn’t their physical ideal or very ladylike, and they probably figured, on top of all that, she was a liberal. They pretend to support her now, but if they genuinely cared about her, they would not encourage her bad behavior.

The smartest tweet I’d read about this whole thing came from White House correspondent April Ryan when she tweeted Roseanne, saying, “Just stop.” Ms. Ryan told Roseanne to go on a retreat or something, stay off Twitter, off the phone, and stop listening to the enablers who are defending her mess. It’s easy to see that people are exploiting her in a way that will only make things worse.

She needs to fix this not dig a deeper grave.

And, okay, I couldn’t help laughing at the Twitter backlash she got from the Ambien excuse. She walked right into that, but I still feel bad.

Her “supporters” say she should not even have apologized. I say she should have stopped with the apology, no drama like, “I’m leaving Twitter,” only to come back and begin defending herself, justifying what she did with excuses.

It’s not a good feeling, watching someone self-destruct. It gives me no pleasure to see another human being crushed, humiliated, and used this way. There is that part of many of us, where we can’t look away from a train wreck, but it is no less awful.

And personally, I couldn’t keep quiet about any of it. I’ve hated racism and all forms of bigotry from the moment I was old enough to see it for what it was.  I was a child then, but I’d seen no evidence that any one group of people were superior to another and I’ve firmly believed that we are all entitled to dignity, justice, and respect.

Still, I don’t claim to be righteous and tolerant. I can’t because I am genuinely happy to coexist with people. I don’t claim to be tolerant because I am not a nice person who is just being politically correct. What I do or say along those lines is not for the sake of pleasing anyone.  When I speak out against racism, I am not defending the people targeted because they are more than capable of defending themselves. I’ve seen it. I am defending myself and what I believe. I’m fighting for the world I want to live in. Lastly, I don’t claim to be tolerant because there are things I can’t and won’t tolerate. And, yes, racism happens to be one of them. It is crucial that we call it out when we see it, and it’s about time.

© Copyright June 1, 2018 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com.

Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

THE THIRTEEN REASONS WHY BACKLASH: MY THOUGHTS AND BOOK REVIEW

{photo credit}

*WARNING- SPOILER ALERT*

If you’re planning to read the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, or watch the Netflix series, you may not want to read further. This blog does contain a few spoilers.

***

I became interested in the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, when a reviewer of my book, Shattering Truths, said that fans of Thirteen Reasons Why would absolutely love Shattering Truths.

It is true that we explore similar topics, even though the premises are different.

In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah Baker takes her life and leaves behind cassette tapes that retrace her steps and explain her reasons.

In case you haven’t heard, the backlash over Thirteen Reasons Why is the perception that the book glamorizes suicide.

Romanticizing suicide in art isn’t new. Did people want to ban Shakespeare? I’ve listened to Don McClean’s Starry Starry Night and Chord Overstreet’s Hold On song tributes to suicide victims that inspire hauntingly beautiful imagery, and their lyrics have moved me to tears. Maybe there is something about giving up that most of us can relate to—the notion that if worse comes to worse, no one can make us stay here. At the same time, we are also filled with profound sadness over the depth of another human being’s despair.

Interestingly enough, I once wrote my own book about the aftermath of a protagonist’s suicide— not Shattering Truths but an earlier workI was nineteen at the time. The editor I submitted it to felt readers would not find this character sympathetic because, as a suicide, he’d be considered psychotic. That bothered me more than anything else—the distressing mentality—the heartbreaking reality—that even in these modern times, people are uncomfortable with any mental instability and quick to reject it. I submitted it anyway. The publisher said they would be interested only if I changed the ending and had my character survive. I wouldn’t do that. My whole point in telling the story was that the guy died, and he shouldn’t have. I shelved the project.

At the time, I did romanticize my character’s suicide. I hoisted the guy up on a posthumous pedestal and became obsessed with his life and death. But I didn’t want to die.

Sorry (and not so sorry) to say, that as a poet, a writer, and an artist, I embrace all of it—the good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the dark, the light and the scary.

But I am also an adult who realizes that death is not pretty, and it’s likely to be quite lonely and painful. Nothing about Thirteen Reasons Why gave me the impression that it would be anything but lonely and painful. There was never a moment I envied Hannah Baker or wanted to be her—before, during, or after. What happened to her seemed anything but glamorous.

I’d go so far as to say the story makes it clear that taking your life is not the solution; that there is always hope. A few minutes, days, or weeks could make all the difference in the world. That hope is extinguished when your light goes out for good.

I also happen to think that people who hurt you don’t deserve to take anything more from you!

From my perspective, the book actually provides clear examples of how not to behave, how not to treat others. It brings to light how little thought teens give to how their behavior may affect someone else, although, this is also sadly true of adults. Some will live their whole lives hurting and punishing others without thinking it through, without ever trying to understand the people they target.

That’s one of the messages in Thirteen Reasons Why. We need to be kinder to each other.

No doubt, some people will read this book and see it all differently. They’ll see that Hannah is talked about more and with more sensitivity after her death. They’ll see that people feel guilty. They may think that would bring satisfaction, but true bullies who destroy other human beings are not usually the ones who feel guilty. They don’t have consciences.

To a lesser degree, Hannah Baker herself lacks empathy in this story and is rather self-absorbed. That’s okay. Victims don’t need to be depicted as saints. A character can be tragically flawed in fact, and still not deserve the torment. It is normal for a trauma survivor to go through a period of victimhood that includes a great deal of introspection and a degree of self-pity. She has a human response to a rude and painful awakening. Yes, trauma does quite a number on the psyche. It changes a person, causing behavior that won’t make sense even to the survivor. The point is, what happened to Hannah Baker should not have happened to anyone. It’s sad that she’ll never have the chance to heal and evolve beyond what she became, so it’s a story worth telling and worth telling right.

I’m willing to bet that most of us can make a list of at least thirteen people who screwed us over and/or possibly scarred us for life. Some of the reasons might be the same or worse than what Hannah Baker experienced, but, for most of us, suicide was never an option we considered.

We are all different. We have varying degrees of ability to cope, and those who are coping well may be at less challenging stages of the healing process. To some of us, a burden is a challenge, and we push back. No matter what happens, we keep pushing. But not everyone can do that. It’s not weakness, and it’s not for lack of trying. We are where we are. None of us have control over the circumstances we are born into or everything that happens after that. We can’t be sure why we take the paths we take or what we need to learn. Healing begins when we are ready. It’s a long, grueling process that, unfortunately, some people will never begin.

I think it’s safe to say that Thirteen Reasons Why will be triggering for certain people and not others.

There’s always a chance that any one of us will find something we read, see, hear, or experience to be triggering. But that doesn’t mean we should censor ourselves, as writers, or as artists. We can’t. We can’t shy away from controversial subjects or prevent others from having those important conversations. For those wanting to sue and to ban, do we really want to set that precedent? Where would we draw the line? Would we have to stop talking about rape, about murder, about mental issues, and about everything that could be triggering? I hope not!

A common complaint people have made is that the book doesn’t delve into the mental illness factor when it comes to suicide. No, it doesn’t. Thirteen Reasons Why focuses on raising the level of awareness for bullying/harassment/character assassination, etc. and depicting how the victim feels—how a suicide victim feels. Hannah, in my opinion, sought to educate the culprits. She may have wanted them to feel her pain, too, but more for their benefit, I think, than in retaliation. As a trauma survivor, I can relate to wanting to raise the level of awareness. Even if the people who need to hear it most are not listening, someone is. And making a difference to anyone at all is a great start.

It doesn’t mean we should ignore the mental illness factor in our conversations about this topic. According to the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, “Of those who die from suicide, more than 90% have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Mental Health America states that “substance abuse may be involved in half of all suicide cases with 20% involving people with alcohol problems”.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that drug abuse is a mental illness.

Sadly, families often have a difficult time acknowledging and accepting mental illness in a loved one. There is rejection, ridicule, even mind-boggling cruelty. For the person with issues, it leads to a social ineptness that only results in more ridicule and cruelty. The damage is hard to shake, and it’s heartbreaking because, with acceptance and unconditional love, a lot of the issues can be minimized or managed.

Shame is a key word here. Many parents and siblings are more concerned about what others may think. Are we sending a message of, I will not love you unless you are normal by my standards and anything less will be ridiculed and rejected? Are we teaching our “normal” kids to ridicule and reject?

The truth is, we have dangerous psychopathic narcissists running amok in this world, and they are considered normal by many. Meanwhile, people who struggle with things like autism, Asperger’s, bipolar, anxiety, etc. are met with skepticism.

I’ll admit, due to lack of acknowledgment/acceptance in my own life, it took me quite a while to realize and understand the problems I had with anxiety, OCD, and possibly other afflictions. I may never have realized if I hadn’t met some of the people I met along the way, people who had the same problems and steered me in the right direction. Awareness is key, and it helps to learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with. It is a lifetime struggle with good days and bad, but it can keep getting better.

So, in light of all I’ve stated above, I believe Thirteen Reasons Why, is a profound experience for the reader. I felt like a part of the story, swept right in and completely absorbed, turning page after page. I loved the powerful descriptions of how the characters felt in critical moments. The book, written straight from the heart, shows compassion in abundance, and it brought me to tears.

Co-protagonist, Clay Jensen, in fact, shows considerable empathy while listening to Hannah’s tapes. He wants to understand what happened to Hannah. He not only forces himself to listen to every excruciatingly painful word—he follows her instructions, putting himself in her place and allowing himself to feel what she felt.

Imagine living in a world where everyone sought to understand one another like that! That would be beautiful indeed!

16288794222_52e9706585_z

{photo credit}

© Copyright July 24, 2017 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without proper attribution.