*** Please note: If you are looking for Insomnia Club posts, I apologize but I’m taking a hiatus from the Club while I deal with my shit – sooo thank you for stopping and check back on that later. For more on my shit… read on…
Ever notice how, with some people, the more serious shit is, the less they know how to deal with it?
You know, the ones where, after you tell them some serious shit, they kind of pretend nothing was said? Maybe they make their best Oh I’m so sorry face, maybe offer a quick hug, but they hasten to move the conversation on to something else.
Or maybe they don’t make the face. Maybe they don’t respond at all to that e-mail you eventually sent out because you’d been MIA for four weeks. Maybe they don’t say anything… except, two weeks later, “PS sorry to hear about your sis” on an e-mail asking for help with grant writing. Or even avoid that PS altogether and just ask for a lunch recommendation. Whatever.
You know what? Grief and tragedy are tough things, man. I get it. Sometimes you don’t know what to say, so you pretend that terrible thing didn’t happen. And that’s ok. Really it is. But, for the love, don’t instead ask me for help or advice.
You know what I can’t handle and don’t understand? When people decide to go beyond ignoring the shit, and instead choose to trivialize someone else’s pain.
We do this with all kinds of life experiences, but as any good gossip knows, it’s the really shit things that get the best no-way! gasps. We do it with relationship drama, with divorce, with heartbreak… and also with tragedy and even death. Sometimes, we relish the gory details, not so we feel the pain in them, but so we can use it to shock our friends.
And…. make a tragedy thing also a societal stigma thing? Say… an AIDS thing, or a drug thing or a suicide thing? Well. That’s just added shock value.
Why do we do this? Why do we trivialize other people’s lives so we have something shocking to waggle our tongues about?
I am sure it has something to do with adding to our own social capital, as well as with distancing ourselves from something real and painful. But we should spend some time reviewing the impact of that choice, to use other people’s life experiences as your own personal trove of social shock and awe. And, whether we realize it or not, behaving that way does have an impact on our own lives, in how we treat people, what we value, the relationships we end up fostering, and what they are built on.
I’m actually not talking about how people are treating me, here. I feel truly blessed by the people waiting for me… I’m actually talking about my sister.
It’s interesting the e-mails I get, from some of her friends, but certainly not all, and how the language is often “I heard from so-and-so about…” When, you know, I haven’t heard from so-and-so. Don’t even know how they found out.
In addition, the information people who actually do contact me or my family have is sometimes complete bullshit. Because that’s another thing we like to do, right? If it’s not juicy enough, we can always embellish. And speculation can always take the place of fact when you need more details.
But all of that is, when I get right down to it, on someone else. Not me. Or my sister. To behave that way regarding other people’s lives is not my choice. And I can’t force someone else not to make it.
Sure, they add another awesome-sauce layer to this. It’s hard not to be bothered by it. But. For me, when I get right down to it, it’s not about the people who prefer to trivialize another person’s pain or tragedy or heartbreak. It’s not about the bullshit rumors and the inability of people to actually reach out or inquire about the person they have no problem discussing. I have been overly concerned about people like this in the past… and eventually you have to let go of that. There is nothing you can do, aside from not join them.
Right now, it’s about my concern over the people who are waiting for my sister, and those that chose instead to make her life their gossip. This is going to be a very long road, and when and if she comes out the other side, she’s going to need all the genuine support she can get… but those people that wait will have to for some time.
It’s about wondering, because gossip and social stigma and shock value can somehow become more important than love and compassion and caring, how many will be waiting, and how many will move on when better gossip happens to someone else?