I am listening to "A Mother's Reckoning - Living In the Aftermath of Tragedy" by Sue Klebold. The foreword is by Andrew Solomon.
It is not the book I thought it would be. It is a book of acceptance and one that challenges us all to consider just how much we know each other. How much do we hide from others and why even?
We only think we know someone; but most of us hide our deepest feelings and even experiences that are shameful. We typically only present the life we think others think we live.
She is a very brave writer.
And, an even braver mother.
She is willing to face more hatred and ridicule for doing what she calls her "moral duty" to share her failings to help another mother and child.
Many would rather believe that her son came from a terrible home in order to do such horrific things. But, what if he came from a loving home? This makes any one of us susceptible to this tragedy.
What happens if there were small signs that his parents didn't see.
What if a child is capable of hiding a whole other life?
What if anyone is equally able to only show you what you want to see and not what is truly going on?
How would we all feel if we were unable to discern the mental breakdown in someone?
Is it possible that someone can cover up their tracks of deep depression and we not know it?
Just as it is possible that a huge number of people cover up their abuse and their wounds; can we really really know someone?
Can we know what pain lies beneath the pretend life of normal?
What this book is mostly showing me is just how much the folks with mental illnesses, depression, abuse, bullying etc can hide. And, even more, how those of us who should see don't.
Who can look back with 20/20 vision and see what wasn't clear back then.
Even as she struggled with the reality of what her son did, her mind didn't allow it all in.
How much of our minds are really seeing what is and how much of our minds protect us from what we don't want to know, or are too afraid to know?
What I failed to appreciate was the great actors and actresses the wounded are. And, how inept we are at spotting changes, subtle changes that arise after abuse or bullying.
This is so multilayered, it fascinates me.
Just as in the abusive homes, there is someone hiding their real darkness and others not wanting to see the signs.
Who is more the actor?
What I know, is that showing your true colors and being real isn't the norm.
The norm is hiding your truths behind a pretend life.
It isn't any wonder that many can literally hide whole lives in plain view.
We all do.
It is just that some are volcanos waiting to explode.
I ordered the book, because there were so many things I would have loved to highlight while listening to her. Small phrases that capture the insanity of tragedy and its aftermath, the levels of suffering and how others treat you. And, how grief is compounded when it is a shameful event.
The proper protocol is set aside and you are left trying to find a way forward.
I love how she is willing to bare it all in order to help us all be spared her pain. And, even more important, for us to sit with the fact, that it just as easily could be me.
We all are creatures who tend to hide what hurts and to not see the small nuances of change...for we what we want most is for life to remain unchanged.
We don't want to know know that our children are in pain, or are suffering. In a letter that she received another child wrote about protecting her parents. For her parents thought only good things about her. She didn't want to disappoint them or bring shame into their nice world.
We are all guilty of this. Of setting the bar too high, that real life can't slip under.
That we are too afraid to share our darkness to ruin a good relationship.
I believe everyone should read this book, especially parents.
Just to remind us just how much we don't know about others.
I believe that the more we share, the more real we are, the less we hide ourselves, the more we give permission for others to do the same. Most don't even know that they hide themselves, that they are keeping a separate self. But, if you are not open, you are.
In my experience, many live two lives.
It is my goal after living in denial to only live one life.
One that all can see.