Quick! Thursday! Update!
Proud supporter of the Anti-Infant-Growth Movement

Flopping on Dr. Internet's couch

Because of the stupid writers strike (I am a supporter! Just not happy about it!) Phillip and I have been watching the last season of The Sopranos. Phillip really likes this show and has dilligently powered through each episode over the last couple years. (I know. It would take me, like, a month. But Phillip has other things in his life besides television.)

I used to watch the first half with him and sleep through the second half, so I never really know what's going on. Since the writers strike, however, we've been watching them earlier in the evening, so I am awake for the whole episode, sometimes even two episodes. But last night, after the episode where [SPOILER!] Tony offs Christafuh, I told Phillip I was done. He could watch another one without me, but I was going to bed.

I went upstairs and folded all the clean diapers and put things away and just tried to get The Sopranos out of my system before I crawled into bed.

Having to get disturbing TV or books or local news out of my head is nothing new for me. I've always been the type to tear up during a particular emotionally-manipulative commercial, for example. I remember watching Schindler's List at home, with the remote, so I could fast forward through anything that was too much to bear. But only recently have I had to hurriedly change the channel so I wouldn't have to hear about the latest child abuse case or listen to 911 tapes or see pictures of local devastation.

This makes me feel really irresponsible. I like to think of myself as someone with a decent working knowledge of the world. I read magazines that don't have pictures of celebrities in them. (Although I certainly read those too!) I watch cable talking head shows religiously. Every once in a while my dad will talk about some book that details a section of History about which I am desperately ignorant, and I'll pick it up at the bookstore so we can discuss it later.

So when The War came out a few months ago, I was pretty excited to see it. I scheduled the entire series to record on TiFaux and I started watching it during Jack's nap. I quit watching it right around D-Day. It was magnificently done and captivating, but it was interfering with my ability to function in the Real World. I'd started having 'What if my baby goes to war?' thoughts randomly pop into my head. And then thoughts that only made sense on the most theoretical level: "What if they reinstitute the draft and Phillip goes to war and doesn't come home and then twenty years from now I have to watch my SON go to war and HE doesn't come home?" Can you say PSYCHO?

The part of me with seriously defective brain chemistry has a terribly difficult time letting go of those thoughts. I have been known to fixate on negative thoughts that aren't even possible, so thinking about losing my child to war some day is peanuts. I have had all of three truly anxious days this fall season, and those three days are due entirely to a couple of spectacularly wicked child abuse stories that cycled through the local news for a few weeks in October. I wanted to write about it, but I can't yet. I still think they have a grip on me.

In the last several months I've just attempted to make peace with it. I have a baby now, so the stakes for everything are higher. I've always walked around waiting for the other shoe to drop- wouldn't having a baby make that so much worse?

I've tried to limit my intake of Negativity. I watch the local news to catch the weather, then I turn it off until my politics show is on, and all those people talk about is the 2008 presidential race, which is my version of watching sports. I deleted The War off TiFaux so I would not be tempted to watch the rest. I don't go to war movies or nearly anything based on a true story. I have a whole shelf of books that I've had to stop reading, because I couldn't get through the parts about child abuse or torture, or even dependencies on prescription drugs and car accidents. I find myself wishing I could just block out all the scary Life stuff and live happily ever after in my house, which is decorated in nice happy colors, and where we play on the floor and eat dinner and snuggle on the couch. I never used to wish for that, and it makes me feel so guilty. There are people out there dealing with war and poverty and hunger and losses I can't even imagine- don't I owe it to them to at least KNOW about them?

I am so overwhelmed by these things right now. The woman who killed her family. The floods. The assassination of a very brave woman. The sick babies in the St. Jude Children's Hospital commercials. Teenage pregnancies and thirty-five-year-old women who can't get pregnant. (I saw Juno yesterday, despite my better judgment.) The neverending string of mistreated children on the local news. The histories and backgrounds of the kids in my mom's fifth grade class. And that's before I float off to husbands killed in action and concentration camps and genocide and... you get the picture.

There is so much right now I think it will flatten me.

I am pretty sure this has to do with dark days and early nights and my annual I Hate This Time Of Year Funkitude. I am not depressed. I am rarely depressed. I am not pessimistic. I am not wondering why bad things happen to good people. I am not mad at God. I am just constantly wondering how one person is supposed to hold all of these things and not collapse. And I wonder at my ability to get through anything hard, when it is so difficult simply to know about the hard things. What does God have to say about that? And if someone says "God doesn't give you more than you can handle," please don't be offended if I roll my eyes and switch on the Bravo channel.

Anyway. See how I save the morose stuff for the weekend? When no one is looking? Back to Irreverent Baby Fun on Monday!

Comments

Jen

I'm with you on this. There is too much horrible stuff going on. I feel that as long as I know it is out there, I don't have to know every detail about it. I am also really good at imagining horrible scenerios too. I have long been glad that even if there as a draft, they wouldn't take my husband. (Severe knee injuries just to start. Not that I am glad he is injured or anything. But, you know.)

Jennifer F.

Oh, man, I'm with you. I couldn't go back to sleep after getting up with the baby last night because I'd accidentally come across a picture of a late-term abortion the day before, and that set me off on a HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING WHEN STUFF LIKE THIS IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD?!?!?! tangent.

Anyway, if it helps at all, I recently came to one conclusion that I wrote about here. It's really the only thing that's helped me deal with stories of suffering.

Rosemary

Yes, I know where you're coming from. And yes, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" is trite and unhelpful. But having been one of those people whose family went through a horrible loss, I think it is true that God doesn't give you more than HE can handle. Or, better: "God doesn't permit anything to happen that he can't handle." That insight is hard won, though. Definitely. But it's true, and you can count on it. Through his crucifixion, Jesus went down to the very depths of hell. In going through it all, he made it possible for us to go through one fraction on "it" and survive, even thrive.

This is me talking after 6 years of healing, though.

Having said all that, I don't know how people without any faith cope with tragedy.

Christina

I can SO relate - there's just an astronomical number of tv shows and movies I can't watch because I can't have that stuff in my head. And I've been glued to that x-mas eve murder story because it happened in my neck of the woods. (I'm at that post office like every other day) - and the more I read the more upset I get and yet I can't stop, but I should.
And I *hate* this time of year because it is dark and wet and there is nothing fun to look forward to. Which is why we just booked a family trip to Disneyland in February. Nothing like the Happiest Place on Earth to make you forget all the sad, horrid hard stuff for a while.

Sarah

Don't beat yourself up over this. As someone who has lost a child, I would never want people to try and imagine what it's like to lose a child. I think most of the people going through these tragedies would not want others to have to experience them. I, too, have to be really careful about what I watch. I read a newspaper story the other day that I shouldn't have, and now it's stuck in my head. I could use a nice dose of sunshine (literally) right about now (and it's not even February - ugh!).

blog nerd

i have the kind of imagination that tortures like you describe. i can't watch kill bill because of the way horrible images stick in my head.

i regularly feel guilty about the abundance we experience and ask God why we've been blessed in so many ways that others have not.

but.

i think that there is a certain way that neurotic guilt about NOT going through terrible hardship is MORE painful than enduring hardship itself.

because there is redemption in actual non-neurotic suffering.

i don't think neurotic fear and guilt is redemptive that way.

though, perhaps, just perhaps, it serves a function in small quantities. it reminds us of our need for redemption and our blessed state.

Kate

Have you ever read The Giver, by Lois Lowery? Its about a utopia where there is no bad stuff, but one person in the world has to hold all of the bad memories: war, pain, suffering. There is much more to it, but your post reminded me of that book. Maybe it would be an interesting read? Its not too dark, its a teenager-book. I do understand where you're coming from, no solution here... or maybe as Oprah says, do what you can to help the world! (give away millions, bake cookies, shovel the old lady's driveway!)

manda

sheesh I probably shouldn't tell you that I got Photoshop too! Ah well,don't worry next Christmas no one will even know I exist! Hee.
p.s. I still read daily but I've been slacking in the comment department. Sorry. I was really excited about your new bedding, though! Let's see a pic sometime?

Katie

www.goodnewsnetwork.org

Every time I find myself falling into the news-driven anxiety trap, I surf over to that site. It fixes things for a little while.

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