Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Cry

My tears may flow freely at times, yet I do not give them away for free.  You must earn them from me.  You must touch me deeply in order for my tears to stream down my face for you.  There are many types of touch both physical and emotional, both good and bad.  Just as there are many types of tears.

I have cried tears of joy through smiles and bright shining eyes, and I have cried tears of anguish through gut wrenching sobs.  Some who have known me have said that I cry too much, or that I cry for no reason at all, but I have come to believe that is not true.  I have come to believe that those people just found my tears to be disconcerting and uncomfortable and just because they couldn't explain my tears, or even that I couldn't at the time, doesn't mean they were without reason.

I have cried tears on some the happiest days of my life and that of my friends and family just as I have cried tears on some of the darkest days.  I cry tears of sympathy for those who can't, for even they touch me in ways you may never understand.  In fact, I am crying right now just thinking about them.

I cry for children I don't know who are abused and murdered, and I cry for helpless animals who meet the same fate.  You see, I feel their pain too and yes they touch me as well.  I cry when I read a sad story, and I cry when I read a story that is uplifting and full of triumph because they have found a place in me that connects and touches me.

I also cry for the pain I have endured over the years, both physical and emotional.  I cry for all the ways people have touched me in ways I never deserved.  I cry because sometimes that pain wells up so much inside me I have no choice but to release it and the tears run down my face and the sobbing wracks my body as I shake uncontrollably.  I cry because they touched me.

I cry.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thoughts on Discipline

I know I am probably going to raise a lot of eyebrows here, but I think it's something that needs to be addressed, disciplining children.  Every parent has their own philosophies and ways that they feel is the best way for their child, and as long as they aren't raising some tyrant that won't listen or flat out beating the kid I am all for different parenting techniques.  The problem becomes everybody thinks their way is the best and the only way, and if you aren't doing it their way then you must be a "bad parent".  The truth is parenting styles have to be different because kids are all different and parents are different.

Not every kid/parent combo is going to make every parenting style work for them.  Sometimes time outs work well, and sometimes you have a slippery little bugger who's just not going to sit still in that chair for five minutes.  You've got to figure out what works for you, and it doesn't have to be set in stone.  In fact I think it works best if both the parent and the child are willing to adapt and try new things, especially as the child grows and reaches new boundaries.  Sticking their nose against the wall tends to lose something when they hit the teen years after all.  Then again, the threat of it in a public place is just enough humility to straighten up a nasty attitude ;).

This brings us to the dreaded topic of corporal punishment, and the whole reason I started this post.  Lately in the news certain professional football players have been making headlines and not for their abilities on the field.  The one player has been accused of using a switch to punish his 4-year old and drawing blood.  I think we can all agree that is going way too far.  Another one has now admitted to using "harsh" punishment on his 1-year old.  Again this is a bit much.  But what about other forms of physical discipline?  Do they have a place in your parenting style?  There seems to be a lot of heated debate over this with a very firm line drawn in the sand.  Personally, with younger children and as a last resort, I see no issue with a few quick pops on the behind.  Always with an open hand only.  It should never be done with any implement and it should never be done out of anger.  There should always be a warning to the child so that they know if the behavior is done again this is what is coming and there is a set number of spankings coming.  They should never be full force, but just enough to get their attention.  I rarely had to use these with my girls, and they were effective.

As for the argument that it only teaches kids to hit, I can promise you kids learn to hit anyway.  My girls were never excessively violent with each other or anyone else.  And now they know that you should use words to solve conflicts with your peers and adults.  They understand spankings happen from parent to child only.  Kids are amazingly intelligent that way.  I respect those parents that choose not to spank for their personal reasons, just as I respect their different parenting styles.  I think as long as the child is not being abused, and yes there is a big difference.  We all need to respect each other as parents and realize we are all trying to do the what we think is best for our children.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Death Does Not Become Me

Death is my nemesis.  I despise death, I loathe death.  And yes, I fear death.  I get it, it's part of the circle of life, we all have to die sometime, we can't live forever, it's part of the natural progression of things, blah blah blahtity fucking blah.  I don't care.  Death and I are not friends.  We never really have been.

I remember my first real experience with death, I was 5.  My mom and I flew from our home in Southern Illinois to San Diego, CA.  It was exciting for me as a kid.  My first airplane ride, the first real big trip, that I remember.  But the reason sucked.  My great-great grandmother had passed away and we were going to her funeral.  I was going to see family that hadn't seen me since I was really little, so for me it was like meeting them for the first time, and for some they were meeting me for the first time.  I kind of remember mom trying to explain death to me, and I kind of remember sort of understanding it, but not really.  Then we went to the actual funeral.  Everyone was dressed in really nice clothes, but they were almost all in black.  And everyone looked so sad.  I remember a lot of talking, and music, and crying.  And then everyone got in a line to walk by this big fancy box at the front.  Being so small I couldn't really see into it from where I was.  I remember mom saying I didn't have to go up to see her if I didn't want to, but again me not totally understanding what was going on thought I was going to be meeting another relative.  So I went up.  That's when I saw her, laying there, dead.  I started crying inconsolably.  That's when I first comprehended what death really was.  The body was still there, but the person was gone.  It was a terrifying experience.  I remember having dreams about great-great grandma's face for a long while after that.

It was only a couple of years later that I experienced my next loss, this time it was my beloved dog, Andy, quickly followed by our pet snake, Thora.  Both animals had been in my life since birth, and both were a big blow to me.  And while I never saw the bodies of my cherished friends the mention of their deaths brought back the image of great-great grandma lying lifeless in her casket.  Since then through the years I have experienced losses of varying degrees, from a classmate who was struck by a car in the 5th grade to my aunt on my dad's side who died on cancer and then was closely followed by my granddad.  My mom's brother also died, and that one was rough too.  And to be honest I've never really recovered from one death before another one strikes.  That rang true more than ever a few years ago.

In the course of a year my family lost 4 people that were very close to us, including my step dad, Ron, who I lovingly call Pops.  Pops has been the hardest death of them all.  Because I was there.  I was there in the cold sterile hospital when he took his last breath and his heart stopped beating.  Granted, he was surrounded by family and friends, but it was a horrible experience.  The doctors said he was medicated enough that he was comfortable and felt no pain, but watching him struggle to breathe those last few breaths was so painful for me.  I felt helpless to do anything but stand there and hold his hand and cry.  And to this day all I can do is cry.  I almost wish I hadn't been there because I hate that I remember him like that.  I don't want those images in my head.  I want to remember him smiling and laughing, but I can't.  I can't make those images of him gasping for air go away.  I can't make the images of us watching the monitors as his heart stopped beating go away.  And I hate it, I hate death for taking him away like that.  I hate people who say death is peaceful.  It's not, I have seen it.  There was nothing peaceful about it. 

And I despise it when people tell me I am weak for not being able to grieve faster.  I will grieve at my own damn pace thank you very much and you can just live with it or go away.  There is nothing wrong with me, I am who I am.  Just because I process death differently doesn't make me wrong or weak or broken.  Everyone is different, and everyone grieves differently.  How would you like it if I said that you grieve too fast so you must be a cold hearted bastard with no feelings at all?  Sorry, slight off topic rant.

So, with all of that being said one would think I would stay as far away from death as I could right?  You want to take a wild guess at what I do for a living?  Just one little guess?  I work in death fucking benefits!  Yep that's right I work in death benefits for a pension program.  I deal with families every day that have just lost a loved one.  I talk to their spouses, their kids, their parents.  I listen to them cry and yes, even scream.  And then people wonder why I am always so close to a freaking mental breakdown.  Yeah...