My Mom’s advice this morning, when discussing yesterday’s mass shootings (no link provided, because it doesn’t matter which one, there will be another in a few hours).
My Mother has always been non-confrontational. She grew up the youngest of four with parents who fought terribly, in a house with a lot of discord. She saw each of her siblings grow up and leave while she remained in that atmosphere the longest. So she’s always turned away from arguments, conflict, from drawing much attention to herself. As the parent of a very strong-willed child (me), that was a bit dangerous. Without her enormous capacity for love and tenderness towards me, I could have easily ended up in jail (and almost did, more than once) instead of just being a difficult, juvenile-delinquent, discipline-case type in my teen years. She did the best she could with me, but more often than not, I know I bent her to my way, taking advantage of her conflict-averse nature. It was unfair. But I was young and headstrong.
I’ve always been a fighter. I fought to be heard in a larger family full of loud voices. I fought to get out of the negative stuff I was in and around as a young adult. I literally, physically fought my way out of an abusive relationship when I was in high school. My Dad was a boxer, and used to teach boxing, so he gave me my fighting spirit. He taught me not to take anyone’s shit, not to let people take advantage of me, to stand up for myself and for what I thought and believed.
And so I can’t just ignore it, which is what I told her on the phone this morning. I’m an activist by nature. Someone who rattles the chains for change. Who pushes the boundaries and never gives up trying to make a difference if I see something I think is wrong.
But I am so, so weary. And parenthood means I have someone else to look out for besides myself, which has to be considered in every thought, action, protest. I can’t, for example, go be an escort for Planned Parenthood patients, of which I was one for years when I didn’t have health insurance, because I can’t take that kind of risk. I need to be around for my son. So I have to balance how hard I push and how loud my voice is with what’s reasonable and safe, what will allow me to be around some more to be a parent. Getting carted off to jail for being in a street protest would not be great for my shared custody situation. And this is frustrating, on top of the weariness.
I am left stymied almost into inaction. And so, so disappointed in my country, in our international reputation, in the horrible, sick, twisted way of life we are all now forced to live because of guns – in fear every day that at any moment, someone could appear who was able to get their hands on as many guns as they wanted, who will mow us down. Or our children. I’ve not for a single day forgotten Sandy Hook. I cannot fathom that I brought my son into a country where an incident like that is allowed to stand with no massive changes being made to our culture. It sickens me, frankly. And makes me ashamed. I’m tired of explaining to all my international friends, to posting on social media that honest to god, we are not all crazy. We are held hostage by the paranoid and rich, and there’s nothing we seem to be able to do about it except wait for our number to be up prematurely, violently.
I vacillate wildly between angrier than ever and more spurred to action than ever, and completely resigned, wanting to take my son and run away to somewhere where the people are more sane and you can’t get guns as easily as an order of french fries.
I no longer know how to increase the power of love so that it overtakes the black hearts of the trigger-happy paranoid who clean their guns and accidentally shoot their own children every day. I no longer care to debate politics with people whose love of weapons has threatened me and my child, our peace of mind and our right to a free and enjoyable life. I’m just fed the fuck up.