This has been a harrowing week for me, for this country, for the families that lost their loved ones, for the children and adults that were murdered and for the family of the shooter. Was it senseless? How can our minds get around the fact that a mentally ill, angry young man got a hold of his mother’s three guns, went to an elementary school and maliciously killed so many innocent people after taking his own mother’s life? My mind can’t handle it and that’s what I want to address here. My mind can’t handle this…but my heart can.
This painful incident has brought back to the surface all my childhood fears growing up in an emotionally and sometimes physically violent household. The end result was the brutal murder of my mother by my father. He shot and killed her with his gun, one of many that he joyfully and legally purchased to go target shooting with and ‘protect’ our family from intruders. I’m sure (in hindsight), that my father flirted with undiagnosed mental illness, as I’m sure my mother did too. Or perhaps it was her unbalanced hormones that drove her to her ups and downs. That was also undiagnosed and barely addressed back when I was growing up.
Ironically, in my early twenties, I acted in a staged reading of a play called, Toy Gun, based on the true story of an accidental killing of a young man in New York by a police officer when the officer thought the man’s toy gun was real. Who knew then that my own misguided and ignorant belief that guns were fun toys (I used that belief to boast to my mom about my great aim and to make my father proud at our target shooting outings) would come back to haunt me when my mother was shot in the head by the very deadly weapon we all ‘played’ with.
I was silent before my mom died. I was silent about the threats my mother claimed my father put upon her. When my mom withdrew her formal complaints and restraining orders that claimed my dad put a gun to her head and had threatened to kill her I labeled her as crazy. Somehow it was more palatable than to truly believe my father did such a thing. Of course, he denied his threats to me. Why would my mother go back to a man who threatened her life? A man I loved and who loved me? I didn’t realize the fear she lived with had become a new normal and from that place of fear she couldn’t make decisions from a centered, wise and safe place. If only I knew then what I know now.
In light of what happened last week and the previous school shootings I wonder what kind of support there really is for parents who have troubled kids? The funding for domestic violence coalitions have been slashed so drastically over the years, I can’t imagine that there is an abundance of resources for this new crisis. However, there could be if we speak up.
I ask you this…are you feeling scared? Out of control? Angry? Are you angry at Walmart for selling and promoting these guns as if they are toys? I am. Are you mad at ‘the gov’t’ because your rights to having a gun may be taken away? Are you catastrophizing that if your right to bear arms is taken away that then all your rights will be taken away? That’s hogwash. Slow down. What are you really angry at?
After becoming a mom last year I decided that I only want to take parenting advice from other parents because I’ve found that other people (teachers, those with lots of nieces and nephews, or those with pets, etc) don’t have the real life experience to truly help me. They mean well, but they just don’t know.
I feel that the only people who should have a say about gun control right now should be people who have been victimized/hurt by the misuse of guns. End of story. Other people do not have the experience to understand. I don’t want to hear from someone who has never experienced the devastation caused by guns that they need their rights to own how ever many guns they want and how ever much ammunition they want.
It’s the same reason why I believe only women should have the right to talk about their opinions/beliefs about abortion. Men have no place in that conversation and if you’ve listened to some of the elder men who have put their foot in their mouth about womens reproduction systems in the last year I imagine you’d agree.
I’m angry. And that’s a healthy response. I’m angry that as a nation we have turned a blind eye to a generation of young men who have been raised on violent video games and violent entertainment as the new normal. I’m angry that President Reagan closed the mental institutions in the 1980’s and as a result there are mentally ill and violent people on the street who need love, help and support. I’m angry that we have a nation that is run by corporations and people who think making money and having a right to shoot guns is more important than protecting our children.
And I’m scared. I have a confession. I was anxious in the movie theatre the other day. I didn’t share that with my partner, my son or his friend. I’m scared for my son as he goes to school everyday. I’m scared that this living with fear is the new normal. Did it really have to take the murder of twenty children to get us as a nation to start asking new questions and take pause? Yes, it did. Yes I’m angry.
So what does this all mean? I believe systems work until they don’t anymore. The fiber of America is breaking down. This shocking tragedy has unearthed the need for mental health support, gun control, and a myriad of other things to look at, like violent video games rated for children to use, violent song lyrics and show after show on TV that deals with shootings.
It’s time to stop and change and stop and breath and stop and recognize that how we do anything is how we do everything. If you don’t care about your neighbor, why should your neighbor care about you? What if we all knew that we create our world in each moment and that if we want more love, we need to be the love we are seeking.
I believe light dissolves dark and that’s why I’m sending prayers and light to the shooters family. I learned a long time ago that the only reason someone does a violent act is because their heart is closed down.Prayer works. Kindness works. I’m sending prayers to those people who love their guns and would rather hold onto their rights to shoot then take pause and look at the deeper issue that needs to be addressed. I’m releasing my own anger and self-loathing for the part I play in this world. Where have I hated, wanted to kill or take my own life? When did I believe it was all unfair and that I was a victim? These are the thoughts that create the society we are living in.
In order to come back to peace there’s an opportunity to own your own anger, self-loathing or rage and then release it into the nothingness from which it came through prayer work or through the exercises I’ve been teaching in this ezine and that I have listed in my powerful ebook which is available at http://www.forgiveandbefreebook.com Don’t skip over the anger. It’s important to express it in a healthy way or it will literally eat you alive through poor health, obsessive revenge thoughts, or leak out in your other relationships (fighting, playing a victim or a bully)
How to be at peace during the holidays? Be grateful and unattached to other people’s emotional stuff. If your dad says he believes in the right to own a gun you can decisively say that you disagree (if you do) and why and then stay silent and send him light. Don’t engage in his defensiveness or anger and then go to your room and write out all your thoughts and feelings. The angrier and more disagreeable stuff that’s coming up, the better. Then burn the page or tear it up and throw it out. It releases that energy. Your family members cannot continue their righteous argument if you’re not playing.
Turn off the news. I know it’s hard but hearing the same negative and heartbreaking thing over and over again will keep you spiraling into depression or anger. Give your mind a break. Go into nature. Get a massage.
Give: At my loneliest times (when I was experiencing the loss of my entire family for several years after my mother was killed) I volunteered at a homeless shelter downtown and at a hospital during the holidays. Giving shifts your energy from worry, righteousness, fear, loss and grief into hope and gratitude.
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P.S. You may disagree with me on several of the things I’ve mentioned in this article. I welcome your thoughts. I don’t welcome your judgment. There is a difference between expressing disagreement and then expressing disagreement coupled with judgment. Mostly I welcome your insights.