Thursday, April 18, 2013

When bad things happen

This bad news week seems to not be letting up.  I am a news watcher.  I admit that I want to be "informed" but a part of me also wants to see what shenanigans have occurred and how the vultures of the news media work so hard and often inappropriately to eek every tidbit out of a story.  It's as if I am watching a train wreck, not wanting to see but seemingly not able to tear my eyes away as the carrion birds circle over head. 

And basically I am left feeling.....not much.  I have become jaded to the killings, the explosions, the fires, the wounded, the dead children, the messed up and incompetent legislators.  I have news burnout.  Or maybe I am simply accepting that ultimate truism in Al-Anon--I am powerless over just about everything, except me and those beloved animals that depend on me to feed them and take care of them.  So I've made a choice for silence on news for a few days.  I'm not watching anymore grieving parents, people without legs, burning buildings and flabby chinned geezers who proclaim that they know what the American people want.  

My powerlessness was a realization early in life.  I was powerless over my father's attitude and drinking; powerless over my mother's depression; powerless over the animals that got run over in the road; powerless over love and rejection.  But even though I might have known that I was powerless at some deep level, I still suffered in my heart and head from what I couldn't control.  I kept thinking that I could somehow make things right, do things over, and force others to see how wrong they were.  If that didn't work, I could be passive aggressive, self-pitying, and ceaselessly ask "Why?".  Acceptance wasn't in my nature.  

I still have an issue with injustice.  I want to see things set right. I want to see people care about each other, see their goodness come out.  

I'm not about seeing the bad people suffer.  Somehow, I think that they already are suffering, not liking themselves much if the truth were known.  And for those who can't see that they do wrong, and are all caught up in hate, well....those are the ones that will not get it no matter what I do or don't do.  

The injustices of this week will fade a bit with time for most of us.  And there will be a respite in which we move on to something else.  Even the small "hurts" that happen every day can be viewed as an injustice.  What I need to think about is what my part was in what happened.  Sometimes the answer is nothing.  But most times, if I search deep within, I realize I played a role, at least a small one. Admitting that takes away the power of judging and self-pity and  teaches me how not to do it again. Blaming everyone else makes me the victim, and that isn't where I want to be. 

I've made a lot of amends for the hurt I caused others.  I have wounded quite a few people, both intentionally and without my knowing it at the time. In my life, I haven't looked for ways to dull the pain through alcohol or drugs.  I took a lot of it on the chin and in the heart.  I was wounded but not fatally so.  I got patched up and moved on.  And when bad things happen today,  I still feel the pain but somehow the hurt is less than it used to be.  I am not stuck for weeks on end with resentment and righteous indignation. I don't want to strike out to wound anyone else. 

Maybe I have learned that if I am hurting less when the bad things happen, I am able to laugh a bit more when something is funny and appreciate the good times, good people, good books, and good love when they come along.  At least that is my hope. 


  1. I think some of us do not have the nerve-insulation we should. We feel everything too much and it takes a conscious, good effort to let the things go we cannot control. That can be a life-saver, can't it?

  2. Having often used chemicals to deaden the pain,in the past, I'm grateful to be completely aware of it all, now. It doesn't mean I'm grateful for the pain, but that I am (human) capable of feeling them. Same as you (human) and the rest of the (functioning) world. Thanks for the post. I always get so much from your thoughts.

  3. Okay, Syd! I have read through your blog today twice, and cannot find one thing to disagree with - - - and the feelings that you have described are as accurate for me as they have been for you. It is a choice - for me - to leave yesterday's news alone, and to not expect much out of tomorrow's news either. Today can be painful enough - given all the news that is happening, to add to my own memories of the anguish that brought me to Al-Anon (at the suggestion of a Psychologist/counselor).

    The bag that I opened up this morning - as 'today' -was nearly ruined when I harked back to yesterday and a few days prior. But, by using my own personal 'set-the-tone-of-the-day' discipline that I learned and practice from Al-Anon, I was able to distract my sad pitying thoughts into recitation of Steps 1, 2, and 3 by giving these as well as 'all' of me over to the care of a Higher Power, which was very very helpful. I could have kept all the pain in my bag of burdens, but instead I gave it away - knowing that it would be best carried better by one more powerful than myself.

    I just needed to re-acknowledge the first three acceptance steps - that help to maintain my sanity and serenity today. Thank you for allowing this vent.

    Anonymous #1

  4. Your rigorous insight and honesty is what has me returning to this blog again and again. That, and the fact I resonate deeply with what you write. You're a good man, Syd.

  5. News seems to mean something very different from what it used to be. No detail is too small not to repeat over and over again. Let us remember what it is at its core - a money making venture. There is little dignity given to the bad news, and good news is rarely featured. This is not reflective of the real world. Turning it off is a perfectly reasonable reaction.

  6. you have a profoundly logical and soothing way of thinking. so many things you say, echo in my heart. and i know them to be true. now to teach my teen that the 'blame game' is NOT the way to live. but yet, he's still so young, and weren't we all playing that game at that age? i'm almost certain we did...

    i'm glad i read your post today, you're such a stable force in this blogshere, and like you, i'll concentrate on keeping my pups and myself happy, and aim to bring some of these points home to those i love, yet leave it to them to decide whether they'd like to accept them too.

    happy weekend Syd!

  7. The news today, especially for those who live in Massachusetts and Connecticut is really upsetting. I am trying to detach, but I find myself angry instead. It is a hard day.

    On Monday and Tuesday a lot of people, especially those with children, were tossing around a quote from Mister Rogers "...look for the helpers..." maybe, but it doesn't make it better.

    As I posted in my own blog I am trying to detach and accept and turn it over, but I am still caught up in it and sick to my stomach. Literally.

    Be well.

  8. Did my comment vanish? I am having a hard time detaching today. The news is not good, and god knows everyone has something to say. A lot of people were trying to quote Mister Rogers on Monday and Tuesday "...look for the helpers...." but today everyone just wants the suspects dead, at whatever cost. It is a sad day.

  9. You've expressed in beautiful prose what I've felt all week ... and, indeed, for a long time. I keep having to bring it back to what I've learned in AA ... to keep my side of the street clean and to hope that I can be of comfort to at least a few others.

  10. This has been the absolutely worst weekend to feel sick and be stuck indoors. I signed up for Netflix again, just so I could watch some movies instead of the news. I am a news freak, but enough is enough!

  11. Yes, this week, for my husband was what the news of the Monsanto rider bill was for me over Holy Week at the end of March. He was glued to every news bit, in the same way as I was excavating and learning on the internet. Somehow, the stuff on the news is easier for me to detach from. Especially when I know I am powerless. During 9-11, I only had radio access. And for that, I was truly grateful. I guess I got "jaded" or "real" about the news crews following the "breaking" news, when they were chasing OJ down the freeways in Southern California. I am powerless over other people' antics, and try only to engage in observing the pain they inflict, when the victims are my own people, or I am learning something I need to know, that will help me make lasting change.

    I guess I relate to another commenter, who shared that some of us may not have a lot of nerve (or compassion) insulation. I don't have a lot of that kind of insulation, never did, likely I never will. I don't think I am lacking per se. But I respect my sensitivity, and so I try not to follow the news too closely, unless it strikes me as something I can handle and or if I feel it is my responsibility as a citizen to be aware of in order to make life better for others.

    That is my two cents worth. Syd, you were amazing in talking about things political without mentioning details. Boston means a lot to me, as I was born in that area. I guess I had to listen, to understand my people and their resiliency. I also, sadly, could relate only too well to the story of immigrants who don';t adapt to life in these United States.

    My mom still has problems with being a foreigner, and so does a good friend of mine, who is a naturalized citizen. Changing cultures, without feeling alienated, is not a cake walk!

    In the love and peace of my imperfect program, Smitty

  12. After 58 years in this city, I am definitely jaded. I watch the news separate the shit from the bullshit and move on Syd. Because I know what happened today will some way or another be repeated tomorrow.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.