Monday, December 17, 2012

I turned it off

I've done what I need to do, which is turn off the coverage of the horrendous tragedy that occurred on Friday.  I can't watch anymore.  I feel myself sinking into a place I know I wouldn't be able to easily get out of, a place that's unproductive and too sad to cope with my daily life.  I've tried instead getting all worked up over idiotic posts people make about "hey, if only we could pray in schools, all would be well" or the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mantra the NRA likes so much that are floating around on Facebook.  The only thing that has resonated with me, instead, is a post that makes me sink deeper into sadness, that of the mom struggling with her son's runaway mental illness and the lack of options available to her.

This over-connection to sadness is something I've always had with horrific occurrences turned media events.  I found I had to turn off coverage of 9/11, university shootings, and I was nearly beside myself knowing Hubbster's aunt was down the road teaching at Columbine's elementary school, watching the ambulances roll by for catastrophic that event.  I've had to think what I would do if a gunman came into my classroom, and hey, I know intellectually my university is FAR less safe than any elementary school.  I know I've dealt with students who were, if I'm being 100% honest with myself, off their very serious big time meds and exhibiting behavior I was afraid of.  My colleagues have had stalkers and protective orders.  I've had people screaming at me in my little office with no one else around about the unfairness of a grade.  In the days before ubiquitous cell phones, students once called security (state police) over another student, male, aggressive, getting into my face, attempting to physically intimidate me.  The risk is there.  It's there every day.  But that's the risk for ME.  I take the risk because what I do is important, worthwhile, and necessary.

For my children?  I cannot let risk, let alone the assessment of possible risk into my consciousness.  I cannot assume they won't be coming through the door at the end of the day.  The thought alone is enough to send me to my bed, weeping and unable to cope.  That's why I cannot watch mothers and fathers on television emotions flayed, wailing their sorrow to God.  The risk assessment starts then, in my head.  If I even think it could happen to MY babies, I will be paralyzed with fear, and that will mean I'll paralyze my children with fear too.  That's not a life I want them to remember.

So in the months to come, I may argue the necessity of increased mental health services and need for gun control with others.  But for now?  I feed them breakfast, remind my kids to take their lunches, button their coats, tell them I love them and to learn something fabulous.  I send them out the door, expecting them to be home later, just like I do every single day.  It's the only way I can continue putting one foot in front of the other.

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