Friday, April 13, 2018

Empathy Costs Nothing

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: trash, construction, Elvis, without, retrieve

They were submitted by:

You might be entitled to your opinion, but maybe consider if that opinion makes you sound like an asshole before you spew it.

I read a few articles recently about the documentary on Elvis that Priscilla Presley was recently involved in and stories a few months ago about suicide notes he left behind. It's a new revelation in his story that puts to rest all the conspiracy theories and mystery. After years in the spotlight, Elvis, like many others before him, felt the need or desire to take his own life.

Now, if you're one of those people who thinks it's weak or selfish or who questions how someone who seemingly has it all could still get to the point of suicide, my suggestion to you now is to close this out and move on. Your opinion won't be welcome here and is, factually, trash. My best advice is for you to retrieve your head from your ass and find some semblance of empathy within yourself and stop with the blame/selfish commentary because every time you do it, someone you know who has had suicidal thoughts realizes they can never come to you about their feelings without being judged. You're helping no one, and it is you who is weak and selfish.

But, what I really want to say is that suicidal thoughts aren't necessarily abnormal. Shit happens, and sometimes it gets the best of you. You have a bad month or a bad year and the depression sneaks up on you like a monster coming out of the shadows. It's not out of the ordinary when everything is piling on for that thought to lurk in the back of your head. It's there and gone like a morbid peek-a-boo session with your darkest self.

Sometimes you can't pull yourself back out of the muck on your own. And that's ok. I've been there. You get stuck on a loop of awfulness, and no matter how much you try to wiggle free you are just caught in it like a fly in the spider's web calling it to dinner. There's nothing wrong or weak or broken about asking for help even if you just need a quiet body to lean on who won't judge how long you've gone without a shower or how long it has been since you washed the dishes. Spider battles are not solo ventures. They're meant to be fought holding someone's hand with every available resource you can grab onto to help. Yes, even medicine. And no, not always more sunshine or grabbing onto your bootstraps and sucking it up--anyone who says that has never fought a spider like this before.

There's no perfect construction for how a person must be. Sometimes regardless of our station in life, our fame, glory, how much money we have or don't have, no matter how much we have or haven't gone through, as evidenced by Elvis and Robin Williams and all the others, those thoughts creep in. Sometimes they stick. Sometimes they can't be patched. Sometimes the patch fails and the roof caves in, and you can't find your way out of it. And maybe you don't want to.

Even then...especially then... judgment has no place in stopping it from happening again to someone else. Nor does it help those people you may know who lost a loved one that way and can't bear to hear those opinions and fucked up jokes and condemnations.

Love. Kindness. Empathy. Know them and use them. Or simply shut up.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

Cognitive Script

Friday, April 6, 2018

Me, Myself, and I

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 9 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Who is the one person you admire more than any other? Why?

It was submitted by: 

Maybe it's ego. Maybe it's just appreciation. 



And I absolutely realize it sounds pretentious at best and narcissistic as hell at worst, but it's deeper than that, bigger than that, so let me explain.

I feel like a lot of folks might choose a parent, a spouse, a friend, or a celebrity, but anyone who knows me well also knows that I learned a lot about who I didn't want to be from my parents. And to be honest while I love my friends and do admire the occasional activist celebrity, I also realize celebrities are not super human and no better at this struggle than I am by way of having had more opportunity, and my friends I think of as my equals--flawed but trying our best all the same to be the best we can with the time we have. These might be easy choices for any number of people, but it just doesn't cover it for me. I have strong, talented, woke as fuck friends. I write some people who have made complete turnarounds with their lives, and while I admire those qualities, I also appreciate that we are all works in progress.

Given the prompt it would also be fairly easy to come up with a cutesy answer about my child, and while I do love him to pieces and admire the person he is becoming, I also know his reason for becoming that person is my influence. I'm his teacher, mom, ethical guide, moral philosopher, and often a substitute for a dad. When he chooses kindness over hate, when he discusses current events with me or points out how someone else is ignorant in their thinking about others, when he gets lost in books about other worlds and gets excited about writing papers on his favorite characters or shows, he's reflecting back to me the things I have taught him are valuable and the work I taught him would make the world a little better.

I've done a lot of searching, changing, and work to get to this point in life where I can pass down these important lessons, and it's really that line of thinking that made me choose myself. Sometimes in life being humble or modest isn't the best choice, and I think with the way American culture has headed over the last few years, 2016 to now especially, it's prudent to be as open and honest as possible. We sure as fuck aren't getting that kind of honesty elsewhere.

I didn't have someone to teach me those lessons at his age--how to love, how to embrace difference, what differences really mean. And while my family might not have been actively hateful, they weren't exactly the best examples either. I had to relearn everything, start as fresh as possible, and be real with myself about what biases I picked up on the way. And I've done that through some of the worst obstacles a person can face. It would have been easy to let the world turn me into a cold, hate-filled monster. Surely that's what it taught me humans are more than capable of... But I didn't let my experiences hold me back. I've swallowed a lot of self-pity and picked my ass up off the ground over and over to keep pushing through, keep striving to be better, to reach out to people who have no one, and continually evaluate my self, my behaviors, and my intentions.

I'm proud of myself for not letting where I came from dictate who I would be. I'm proud that I didn't let the things I went through harden me, that I choose empathy over apathy every single day rather than give in or give up. I'm proud I never let fear dictate how I would live my life and see others. I admire myself for being able to hand those lessons down to my own child both by words and actions. And I admire that I do so knowing I am in no way perfect and will always have room to grow, learn, improve, and better the world one action at a time.

So yeah on the outset maybe it sounds a like ego to say the person I admire most in the world is myself, but I also know how far I've come, and I think it's perfectly ok to be proud of that fight.


Here are all the submissions! Enjoy.

Baking In A Tornado

Cognitive Script

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles

Southern Belle Charm

The Blogging 911

Never Ever Give Up Hope


My Brand of Crazy