Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our Microwave Society

Sometimes I work through things a step at time, but other things (logical or not), will always seem to have a negative connotation for me. At times I look in the mirror and see all the grey or the way my eyes are set in a sad way now and I realize that I am irrevocably changed. I'll never see things the same again- I see the images that make me smile with the transparent scene of what should have been overlaid. At times I feel like something is out of focus when I am dealing with other people, and it is really hard to tell if there is something completely wrong with me or if the situation or person is twisted.

In the end I have discovered that while my perspective has changed, at times there is more than just that. It is a bit of relief really, because I am so used to feeling like I am a stranger in a strange land. You begin to wonder if it is only the matter of you being wrong somehow and out of place. It is sort of nice to realize that perhaps a little of the distortion is from the way that something or someone you are viewing is warped, and maybe, just maybe, this new fragile being is ok in her own way.

I recently had a really nice visit. And it was a complete relief because it meant that I could exist somehow without being torn to shreds. It meant that maybe among a fairly normal set of people that didn't have superhuman powers of empathy, I could exist and just be. I didn't feel like my emotional skin was being singed with branding irons. I'm not saying they were average people, on the contrary they were very nice. But they didn't have magic mind reading powers and they hadn't lost children that I know of. I guess maybe the norm now is not nice (or rather just focused on the self).

I guess you really have to step back from a lot of interaction to dissect things. In a society where we no longer teach children to open the doors for the elderly, pregnant women, men or women with their arms full, or parents holding an infant, why is it surprising that we should see a general lack of restraint where it comes to people with invisible needs? We aren't taught to look at other people, we are taught to think about how everything makes us feel, about our rights, about what is owed to us. I sometimes feel like we live in an emotional hierarchy of needs where most people haven't gone beyond the stage of a three year old.

I remember watching my Mom, who walks with a limp, holding my son at the door to our family life center. Two large teenagers bustled past her. It stuck out to me only because of the place, I guess a bit of a sad statement in itself.

I find myself so used to busy people rushing to cut in line, that when someone is kind and offers to let me go first it comes as a surprise. The young boy who holds the door is a novelty. The mother who passes along her five dollars at a consignment sale in an act of random kindness blows me away. And the kind looking gentleman who stands up at a table simply because a woman has entered the room is a bit of a shock (especially since I have only seen this done three times in my life and it makes me feel like quite the lady). I have become convinced that this disappearing civility is the lubrication that holds together a diverse society and we are losing it.

There used to be conventions, even with grief. There was a grieving period, which even if ambitiously short, at least acknowledged loss and didn't expect normal behavior or appearances at social functions instantly. If I am honest, I wish I could wear all black and send a silent signal to handle with a little care when I am having a bad day. However, we live in a microwave society- if the oven is slow, slap it in the white box; if you are sad you must not be going to the right therapist. Manners or conventions just get in the way with this direct new world order. It is as if we have railed so much against the injustices of the past that we have thrown away what was right with it as well.

I think the grieving get lost in this microwave society. Perhaps you can not always avoid hurting someone who has been mauled emotionally, but maybe we are hurt a lot more than we should be. And we aren't doing it wrong. We are simply surviving the unimaginable the best way that we are capable of.

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