As predicted by the path of past experiences, it is the ol’ familiar take-backs time for my brain in a no take-backs reality.
After 9-11 I remember sitting on the commuter bus going to work downtown and looking at the bright blue sky dotted with puffy fluffs of white clouds. In a big city there are always airplanes making their way here and there across the big sky. On this day, there weren’t any airplanes. The sky was so empty of airplanes that is was starkly noticeable by everyone that something on this day was dramatically different. It was in that moment that the shock ripped through my body of how everyone on that commuter bus knew the tragedy and death of 9-11. Everyone knew it. That knowledge of pain and horror was just sitting there like a solid lead apron on all of us. All of us knowing people burned, people were crushed, people knew they were going to die, some had to hold little children while they died, some had to fall hundreds of feet in terror, some people had to choke to death, some people did not know they were going to die. All of us on this bus had this knowing of horror. I wanted to grab all of the knowledge and take the pain away from everyone. I wanted to scream with that knowledge and run it far away from anyone so that they would not feel this unbearable pain. There weren’t any take-backs.
In April 2014 I sat hunched over, clutching my sweater as close to my body as I could just in case it could swallow me up out of the freezing nightmare, in an oversized winged-backed chair, in a fancy office, across a large desk from a seriously hard-core put together not a hair out of place attorney. I could see her looking at me very intensely. I could hear she was talking to me, but I could not unscramble the words she was saying so that I could understand them. Then I heard something. She said, “You are here to hire me to get you divorced. Correct? You want a divorce. Correct?” My response, “Is that what I am supposed to do now?” In that moment I knew that she knew what was going on. Which meant that other people I had spoken to knew as well. The police knew. My family knew. A few friends knew. This knowing of others knowing cut through me like the hottest coldest quickest jaggedy edge blade. There weren’t any take-backs.
Similar experiences with my first malignant cancer diagnosis (I’m a-okay!), Frump as a ballot candidate, onset of COVID, and every single freaking damned school shooting. And each time the worst part is that there are NO TAKE-BACKS.
Those kids, those children, those teachers, those lives are gone. The lives of their families, friends, communities are forever marked by these events. There are no take-backs. There are no amends to be made. No mea culpa. As a nation we have venerated and voted for radicalized fascism under the guise of pseudo-christianesqueness for at least the past 40 years.
COVID has forced us to somewhat face what and who we are as a nation. I am so relieved, honestly, to see many of us rising to speak openly and take actions from a place of love for humanity rather than sinking into the fear and zero-sum-game tropes. The information is out about us and cannot be pushed back into irrelevancy because there are also no take-backs for verified accurate information dissemination. There are also no take-backs for the march of time. Rising generations of activists and voters are now outnumbering the groups of culturally indoctrinated zero-summers. Those interested in promoting inhumane policies, laws, and governance, will always exist, of course. But they will become more and more outnumbered by the rest of us who know that unregulated civilian access to rapid fire automatic or whatever weapons of those ilk, are not humane. They will become more outnumbered by the rest of us who know that equitable access to healthcare (including mental, dental too!), education/training, food sources, affordable housing, and community are critical for a productive functioning healthy nation.
Those children that we are all okay with exposing to COVID will be voting in 13-18 years. In 13-18 years, almost 22% of our population will be between 71-95 years old. I wonder how those full of teen angsty- idealism voters are going to feel about a large portion of those 71-95 year olds, plus pockets of following generations, having decided their health and lives were worth risking over their abject refusal to wear a small covering over their noses and mouths while inside, and take free vaccines. I wonder how they're going to feel knowing that those 71-95 year olds consistently voted against taking care of our planet while voting for more destruction of our planet. I wonder how they're going to feel about those 71-95 year olds denying their country equitable access to health care, despite having proven data through their entire adult lives that it was cheaper and more beneficial for everyone to have equitable access to health care. I wonder how they are going to feel about how it was more important to us that they may be murdered at school than we demand better gun safety regulations and school staff/community support. AND that we specifically voted for elected officials who would accept monies from those profiting off of children being murdered in schools and develop legislation in favor of more guns being more available to more people without any oversight or acknowledgement of responsibility to the communities (much less humanity) they were elected to represent and serve (communities include ALL humans - even birth-five year olds). I wonder how they are going to feel about continued veneration of systemic racism and inhumane discriminatory policies.
There are no take-backs for many of these things. Only moving forward by addressing them head-on with humane, thoughtful, truth-centered, meaningful conversations followed by humane, thoughtful, truth-centered, meaningful actions. I mean in the best ways we can as individuals. I am not the door-to-door knocking, yelling demonstrator, or logo-ed t-shirt person. I am quite bad at all of those things. Writing a letter, speaking to groups, putting things in bags to send out – those things I can do.
I wish there were take-backs. I want to take all of the most horrific of the horrors away and wipe the deepest awful pains clean. We are flawed. Lives are hard. We can only control our reactions.
In my house last night SonHerisme shared with MotherHerisme that one of his favorite teachers was leaving for a long vacation with his family. They are going to stay near where SonHerisme’s father, MrexH, lives. MotherHerisme responded to SonHerisme, “Is he going to see your father while he’s there?” SonHerisme responded, “Why would he do that? You don’t make any sense, Granny.” Afterward, SonHerisme’s demeanor changed rapidly, as it does when his trauma surrounding his father is triggered. It is almost as if mentally and physically his insides are on fire. We left the house for evening tennis and SonHerisme was very quiet for the entire car ride. On the return home, I opened up the conversation to help SonHerisme work through his anger and to have a plan of how to further move with and understand his emotions. At one point SonHerisme looked over at me, saying, “You know what momma? Next time Granny goes to the hospital, I’m going to tell her that I really hope she sees her dad there!” Because he is dead – but you already have guessed that, I imagine.
Entering the angers. Acknowledging the angers. Sitting with the angers. Moving with the angers. Holding space for the angers.
I spoke to MotherHerisme today while SonHerisme was at school. Her response, predictably, was to break down into a puddle of toddler-worthy dramatic tears. “I didn’t mean anything. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings!” She does not know what she does not want to know. She only knows what has been drilled into her which is that if you are doing well as judged by the judging people, and a white lady, then you are morality personified and should always demonstrate that by being happy, insisting those around you must be happy, and it is your duty to shame and punish those who are not happy or doing well, as those are indicators that they are morally inept or unworthy. When flaws are pointed out = epic meltdowns. She thrives on the idea of her divine right to take-backs no matter what. This is her cornerstone of her trauma-response sanity.
I will continue to walk this path in different supportive ways with SonHerisme as he changes and grows through his life path. He is my most and best and favorite. No take backs ever.
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo