Monday, October 09, 2006

Land of Confusion

Land of Confusion is a great Genesis song from 1986 - sorta how I feel about the world right now.

I haven't run in a week - 7 days exactly after the marathon - and my run today will be on a crisp, sunny, Autumn day - perfect, my favorite. Perhaps the fact that I haven't run, though, is the reason I've had too much time to do other things and read other things and hear other things. I've seen other aspects of life that maybe running gives me a break from. Or maybe running allows me time to think and process all of these things, and make rhyme or reason out of them. I haven't blogged much in a week either - too much going on in the land and in my head to simplify it to text.

My last week sped by and headed into a whirlwind of a weekend. We were supposed to be out of town at a mountain bike festival, but decided to stay home for my husband to rest his knee, and so we could actually just be home for a couple of days. To rest? Friday I brought 5 kids home after school - 2 not my own. It was a little busy, and then there was soccer and Friday night with a movie and pizza and beer and wine. I denied #1 an overnight at a friends because we needed family time. Saturday we divided and conquered as we like to call it. I took our youngest munchkin to back to back events - a wedding brunch where I have no idea how many mimosas I actually drank, and then a birthday party where I was promptly handed a glass of wine. What's with people drinkin' so early on a Saturday? My husband took the other two munchkins to a soccer game (by city bus - a family member borrowed car #2 for a week) - child #1 came home with dad via a ride from a friend, #2 went to a friends, then later #3 went with dad to pick up #2 - #3 ended up staying along with #2 to play with friend and friend's sister and dad came home. #2 & #3 conferenced with respective friends and coerced respective parents into an overnight. Mom drove over overnight belongings for #2 and #3. We had a lovely evening with #1 - it was after baked potato bar and I was winning Scrabble (10:30) when #2 called and wanted to come home. So I picked up #2, had a horrific nightmare that night, and at 7:30 am, mom of friends called and dad ended up taking #2 back to join #3 at friends while dads fixed breakfast, and later returned with #2 and #3. wow. I think I got all the numbers right.

But really, that's not my land of confusion - that's the reality of my life. It was really what progressed later that day that I struggle with. But I've got to back up and say there was stuff in my head stewing before all this - all week long it worsened. Every day in the paper there is so much negativity about which country is at war - violence, death, shooting - which political proposal isn't being passed. Every night on television are shows of crime scenes, investigations, missing people - no matter which network you watch. I've been reminded that we're a society of people that leave oxygen cannisters at the top of mount everest, we litter outer space when we travel to the moon and space stations, we dig for oil and destroy animal and plant habitats and our own natural space, and then produce exhaust from what we dug up. The state I live in has built miles of roads in national parks, and left them to decay and run into streams to destroy the ecological habitat for the fish. I won't even start with the global warming. In the city in which I live, it seems there are endless political debates on how to approach things, and nobody wants to make a final decision. I could discuss the 520 bridge, that will probably sink with people on it before it gets replaced, or the viaduct project that no one has a good solution for. What the article fails to tell you, is that for the near 60,000 population of west seattle who depend on the viaduct - when it's being replaced, it'll be like having to drive through rush hour traffic 24/7 - I've heard for up to ten years during construction - maybe it's just a rumor.

And if all that wasn't enough to oblitererate my positive outlook on life - there's the school consolidations. It's all everybody talks about right now, no matter where you go. To make the story short - the district needed to close many schools that were under enrollment because it was way in the hole and needed to cut back and save money. So it had to choose which schools to close, and nobody likes that. It's been dragging on for year two right now. Currently, the superintendent has decided to merge the alternative school my children attend with a traditional school. You can imagine the ensuing rage from the school communities. No one supports the proposal. There are board meetings and hearings every week. Everyone has an opinion about it they want to share, and I don't know how much more I can take. And yet, our school is an amazing community - a family, and being part of it, you can't help but wanna fight tooth and nail for it.

And then Sunday afternoon. One more playdate. Our child was frustrated because her friend was very late arriving. But if finally happened - the anticipated arrival - complete with the parent in near tears at my back door, which, after I shooed the children in, and went out with the parent - intensified to hysterical sobbing. We must've spent a couple of hours sitting on the back porch - at one point my husband made coffee and passed it outside to us. I really don't know what to say about it all. The issue is this person's partner, and the near physical and verbal abuse that is being dished out to this parent/friend and the child who is now in my house playing happily with my daugher, almost able to pretend that nothing happened, but is scared for her mom to go back home. It's not good. I don't know if you can cross the line and call it abuse yet - it's a dangerously scary line to cross, but the situation has become severely damaging and harmful. It's a classic case. How long do you wait for the next episode and how much worse will that one be? How many chances do you give? There were problems months ago, and they haven't improved. There's been counseling for a while, but it doesn't seem to be helping. The violence pattern seems to have escalated. I don't think it was so physical before, and now there are threats of more. What do you say to a person in this situation? You want to tell them to run far away, but you can't. They love this person. But it's so obviously a classic case of this person unwilling to let go and hoping it will get better and making excuses, and trying to make it work. The child is living in fear. Fear of what she will do wrong next, because she is constantly being blamed. The parent is questioning what is wrong with herself to bring on such a thing. How do you make them see - truly see what is going on? They are smart people. They are great people. The kind of people you'd never suspect this would happen to. I feel sick inside. The child stayed at our house through dinner - in fact she and my daughter made dinner and had a wonderful time. When I took her home, I felt like I was delivering her to hell. Her mom was the only one home, so it felt okay - then the significant other came home. How do I cope with that - other than to say hi and act nonchalant and eventually say good-bye and go home. I gave the child my cell phone number - just in case. And I told her to use it anytime she wanted. I'm not sure what I'm walking into. I didn't ask for it. It hurts to even think about it all, and I'm not living through it. What's wrong with our world? Maybe things will change and maybe it'll all get better and be a success story. But then am I just thinking like a classic abused individual - denying the reality of it?

So maybe if I start running again this week, I'll process my thoughts and write great posts on the power of a community or the story of the gingerbread man. Maybe I'll read some blogs instead of the newspaper and enlighten myself on happy people in the world.


D said...

What a post. So much going on. You and your hubby seem to be a great team.

I am so with you on all of the war, waste, global issues. It breaks my heart when I see deer roaming around the neighborhood because that is just an indication that too much developing is going on without an ounce of regard for the animals whose homes you are encroaching upon. Neither political party truly cares. That is just another issue to argue over. One acting as if there are no problems and one acting like they will do something about it but do not.

Sorry about your friend. That is a dangerous situation. Not only do a lot of woman stay because they think they "love" this person, they stay because 1) they are scared to death (and rightly so) of what their abuser will do if they leave because they have been brainwashed into thinking this way and 2) they are dependent on this person that they don't realize they can actually make it on their own. The truth is the only way some women have ever gotten out of this type of predicament is by having their lives taken by their abuser. I get angry when people say, "why doesn't she just leave?" It goes so much deeper than that. You're a good person to offer that girl your number and the woman a shoulder to cry on. There may be services in your area that you can direct her to. Battered women shelters take woman in - the shelters are in a nondisclosed place and they give them job skills, resources, daycare, etc. Sorry for the long post. I hope you work through some of these things when you resume running.

JustRun said...

Wow, I know there must be a billion and one things going on in your mind right now. So much more than what you've even written here, I'm sure.

Two comments, though:
First, too much news is bad for your soul. Yes, we need to know what's going on in our world but the news will cycle it over and over until you're sick. And times of war and death and conflict (which seems is all the time, now) it's pushed even harder. I have a friend that's a journalist and she's in therapy because she doesn't know how to deal with the words that have to come out of her mouth every night. It's just too much.

Second, and most important, I believe with every part of myself that we have an obligation to protect children in this world. There may never be a way to get an abused adult to see they need help, that's a sad reality. But if we so much as suspect a child is being hurt, in any way, I believe we have to do something about it. We may ruin the friendship with the parent, we may ruin the child's friendship with our children, we may even get the reputation of a nosy person but none of that is worse than a child being hurt. Abuse, physical or psychological, does not have to become regular to be considered abuse (though statistics support that if it starts, it's soon to become regular).
I know you may have just been venting but I have to believe that this was out there for me to respond to for a reason. And obviously, I feel very strongly about this.

Sarah said...

I just can't watch the news any longer...or those horrible 48 hrs shows that are invariably about someone killing their spouse or some other unspeakable. Maybe I'm putting my head in the sand, but it's just too much to process sometimes.

Hopefully your friend can see the light and get out of that situation. Good for you for giving your cell # to the child. At the very least she knows someone else cares. I think taking that risk to reach out is what gives meaning to our lives.

On a lighter note: Thanks for the tip re: Walt Reynolds's ITB Special!

Just12Finish said...

I don't watch the news anymore, because it's not "news" anymore IMHO.

As for this crazy world, my Dad always says "live simply, that others may simply live".

IHateToast said...

i had to get out the whiteboard and markers to figure out where all the kids were going. you've got talent!

you sound very frustrated. and it's such an easy feeling to have now. brisbane seems to do what it can to get more cars into the city. then they have obesity summits. there are scads of paths, encourage people to walk/cycle all or at least part of the way. but no. build more bridges for more cars. i crack the schitts about this all the time. i don't know if running helps me, but anger helps my running.

as for your friend. you'll run the risk of losing her by advising her to leave or get help, but i'd say that for her, it's better to be out and make a clean break of it (including the friends who saw her in that situation) than to cling to a life that will include a man with rage. the child is learning how to treat women or be treated every day she sees dad abuse mom. but... easier to type this than to open my mouth and say it to a friend.

i think the mobile number was a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Your post is very interesting and embodies something we should all incorporate into our lives. That is to “think globally and act locally.”

Your awareness of the national and global issues of the day show you’re a responsible adult concerned about the world.

Your actions in raising your children and helping your friend and her daughter prove you are working for good in your own backyard.


Danielle said...

Wow...great post...I know exactly what you mean. I don't read the papers or watch the news strictly because I don't want to know about it. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but I'm sick of the negatives. Just once I'd like to see the headline on the news be of something great and wonderful that happened, not the shooting down the street or the death of another soldier in the area...Can't there be something positive? If we started only reporting positives, wouldn't some of the negatives maybe go away?

That's so terrible for the mother of your child's friend. It's really hard. What do you do? Just be a friend I guess...and watch really closely, because at least the second that child is hit or hurt in anyway, then it's really time to move forward and report it. You can't necessarily do much for the adult, but the child needs to be protected at all costs. And hopefully she will see something soon and get out.

iliketoast said...

Firstly - It is abuse, the line is well and truly crossed.

If I knew the answer to what to do I'd tell you. I agree with D and it made me think that your friend has a long road to be able to leave.

You are not alone in your concerns about all that is wrong with the world. I try to live, so that on the balance, the world is a better place with me in it. It's perhaps overly simple, but if enough do the same thing then there's hope.

Robb said...

You are thinking and working through so many things. The beauty of a blog is that you can put it out there...putting thoughts into text is therapy and helps all of us cope.

I just hope things settle down and you re-gain peace.