Blame Game

Blame.   I just want someone to blame, sometimes.  And the older I get, the more I realize that often there is no one to blame, nothing to do, no choices to be made.

So what do I do then?  I blame myself.

The latest round of blame game in my head comes home to roost in a familiar place.  My son’s non existent biological father.  Sure, I’ve beat myself up for the last 24 years about how I must have done something to keep him away all of this time.  It’s one thing to have it going on in my head, alone, with only me to witness my own personal level of crazy self talk.

It’s quite another when I see the pain evident in my son, as well.  That brings a whole new round of it.

My son’s fiancee talked with me a few weeks ago about Z’s biological father’s family and their wedding.  It was a conversation I’d had with him a few months ago, when he expressed the fact that he really wanted a representative of that family there.  He hasn’t mentioned it since.  I had advised him to do a lot of self examination before deciding whether or not to invite the one member of the family he has contact with.  I told him he needed to be OK with any of the possibilities of her responses, and to be honest with himself about the whole idea being a longshot.

What I didn’t put on his shoulders was how awful and awkward her presence would be for me, and for everyone else who has been a loving and supportive person in my son’s life throughout his life.  It isn’t his burden to bear, and frankly, I know that we would all swallow any amount of bile in our throats to give him what he wants on this one.  He wants a connection.  He wants to know that part of who he is.  The parts that aren’t me and can’t be explained any other way.  It hurts me greatly, even though I know it’s not his fault and not intentional in anyway, so I button that up and move on.  Or try to.

So he spoke to his fiancee about the whole situation to get her thoughts.  And she was so disturbed by how upset he was, that she came to me.  She asked me what I thought could be done, should be done.  How could we make his biological father choose to be a part of Z’s life.  Because it is making him doubt that important part of who he wants to be:  a father.  How can he be a good father if he knows it is in his DNA to walk away and never look back.

He’s 23 of course.  When I was 23, I still believed such things to be true.  I didn’t realize that a lifetime alongside a person can change who you are, make you different than maybe other circumstances might have formed you.  And, being 23 of course, he still believes in things like miracles and happy endings and neat, simple closures to messy situations by the end of the movie.  He doesn’t have the years of the world showing you different tucked neatly under his belt like I do at age 42.  Hell, at 42 I still don’t believe that his father has stayed away all of this time.  I still wonder if a hangup call is him trying to connect with us.  Even after all of this time, I hope that he’ll make things right.  And if I feel that way, I certainly can’t blame my kid for feeling that way.

Even though, as I told this young girl who will be my daughter in law soon, I know that he has already chosen.  Z’s father has chosen every single day of his life.  He has stayed away.  Even though I lived for the first ten years of Z’s life in the same place that Joe knew.  Even though when I did move away, there was the Internet, and with my work online I was always easily found.   Even though I made a point of attending my 20th high school reunion with the hopes of finding him there.   Even though now his own aunt maintains an email correspondence with Zach.  If Joe really wanted to know his son, be a part of his life, he would.  He has chosen, very clearly.  We just don’t like what he chose.

I’ve been in a funk the last little while about this, mulling over what, if anything, I should do here.   Because I could, if I really wanted to, pick up a phone right now and speak to Z’s biological father.  In a fit of obsessive Googling and sheer dumb luck, I found some contact information a few years back that I believe may be credible.   Should I reach out to him?  Appeal to his conscience?   Absolve him of his 24 absent years?  Talk of what a credit this amazing kid is would be to him?

I think back to all of the things I wish I’d done differently back when I discovered I was pregnant and the ensuing difficult months where we ended up splitting up.  All of the lost chances to make this right, to be the bigger person, to think of my son before myself.  So many mistakes I made.  Could this be the chance I have to fix all of that?

Or is it just simply time for me to grow up and realize that I did the best I could, under difficult circumstances?  That my self blame doesn’t take away the fact that at the end of the day, Joe left his pregnant girlfriend to raise his son alone.  Without any financial or emotional help.   That sometimes people just are really awful, and that they only have themselves to blame.

I just don’t know.  I just don’t know what to do here.   I don’t know who to blame.  I don’t know who to be mad at.  I don’t know how to make this better or right or make sense.



What Mattered Before

The MRI.  Remember that?  Yeah, I’d forgotten too, even though it was so horrible at the time.  Funny how the world puts things in perspective for you sometimes.

My son had reported to me that he wasn’t “seeing out of both eyes” about a month and a half ago.  I took him into the eye doctor, thinking it was about time for him to join in the family tradition of wearing glasses.  Except the eye doctor didn’t find appreciable differences between his two eyes in terms of vision, and worried maybe it could be a sign of a larger problem.  With my son being on the autism spectrum, there was truly no way of knowing if this was a recent occurrence or if this had been happening for years and he just hadn’t been able to express it clearly to us.

Yeah.  So I spent the interim time between the eye doctor visit and the scheduled MRI scan freaking the $#@# out

The scan was done on December 12.  Because my son is on the spectrum, the scan was done in the hospital, under anesthesia.  Hospitals aren’t exactly warm fuzzy places.  And despite every one doing everything they could to be super incredibly nice to my son (even putting a hospital bracelet on his stuffed bear, who was allowed to stay with him the whole time), it was a really unpleasant experience.

My little guy held it together pretty well until we made it into the room where the MRI machine was.  He was still awake then, and they had a mask for him to breathe into to put him asleep.  They were going to wait to put the IV in until he was asleep (smart move).  But the mask and the huge machine and the four people it took to man it all not surprisingly made him very nervous.  I held his hand until he got drowsy enough to let it slip out of my hand, and then they led me to the waiting room.

The scan took an hour.  They scanned his head and neck.   Once they were done, I followed his gurney with him still asleep to the same day surgery recovery area.  Thankfully it was mostly empty and quiet, because when my little guy woke up, he was scared out of his mind.  He cried, he thrashed, he really freaked out when he saw the IV in his arm that wasn’t there when he went to sleep.  He felt nauseous, he was disoriented, and he just couldn’t hold it together.

It felt so, so very hard at the time.  I remember thinking how terrible it was, how awful it was, what a terrible day it was.  How I couldn’t wait to get home and let him snuggle on the sofa while I poured myself a glass (or three) of wine.  I worried what the scans would show us, how awful the news could potentially be, and how I should enjoy these blissful few days of not knowing.  Because life could be about to change.

Two days later, of course, the world did change.  I didn’t have the news yet about the MRI.  But obviously, I didn’t mind.  I knew that whatever the news was going to be for us, it wasn’t going to be as bad as what had happened to those families in Newtown.  Even if it was the worst news, I would have time to prepare my child and my family and myself for the worst, a gift those families didn’t have.

Finally, a few days later, I got the word that the results of the scans were normal. It was a relief, a pin prick of good news in the numbness of that week following Newtown, a week of funerals and sadness and fear.  My little boy will be fine.  My little boy doesn’t have the worst thing that can happen happening to him, and neither do we.  We were lucky.  Again.



It has been three years since I started this blog.  Three years!  I can hardly believe it.  According to my WordPress dashboard, that’s 567 posts about my life, past and current, that I’ve written in this space.

And hardly anyone in my day to day life knows about it.

My anonymous blog.  Why is it that still, after three years, I cringe at the thought of people from my Real Life reading my innermost thoughts, when I put them out there for total strangers to read.  Why is that?  Why do I hide my thoughts?

This situation came to a head this week.  My previous post here, Open Letter to Those Who Would Doubt Sandy Hook, was featured on BlogHer this week.  And I’m not just talking featured in the Interesting Posts down at the bottom.  Here’s where my post is on their site:

That's my post way up there near the top, OMG!

That’s my post way up there near the top, OMG!

The news came to me via an email from one of their editors.  In the email she asked that I go onto my Facebook, my Twitter, all of my social media and shout loud and proud about my content being featured on their site.  Which was superawesome and why wouldn’t I do that, right?


Except the post on BlogHer links back to my supersecret blog.  The blog I don’t talk about.  The blog that hardly anyone I know in real life talks about.

So I hesitated to share it.  I certainly couldn’t share it on Twitter, which would have been awesome, but where my husband routinely follows my posts and comments on them to me.  On Facebook, I could share it with a custom privacy setup, where I could block certain people from seeing it.  The people I worry the most about seeing my writing here (my husband and my mother in law, although I don’t write about her in anything but glowing terms).  And then what do you know, eighteen friends of mine shared the BlogHer, using my name, which I am pretty sure everyone can see.   What happens if people I know actually read my blog?  What will they think?

MizFitOnline posed this very question in her blog post this morning.  She comes to the conclusion that it’s OK to be transparent and let the real people in your life see the real you in your thoughts posted online.

Me?  I’m still not sure.  But I’m edging ever more closer to actually not sweating it if any of my friends click that link below my post today on BlogHer.  I thought about removing the link, honestly, from the post on BlogHer.  But I don’t want to.  I have several more Newtown related posts on this blog that deserve readership.   That I’d actually like people to read.  Maybe even people I know.

Maybe the fourth year will be the charm.  The year I take My Current Life in the blogosphere and let those who actually live in it in on the secret.


An Open Letter to Those Who Doubt Sandy Hook

There is a hard underbelly in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown that I’ve been wanting to address for a while now, but have scarcely wanted to acknowledge it for fear of perpetuating it. But my disgust and anger is so full and complete these days that I can hardly contain it.

At first, in the days after the tragedy, I found in some corners of the internet an outrage against the outrage.  That is, there was a small but vocal contingent indignant at the amount of emotion that was evoked by the Newtown tragedy.  How could one be so upset about these 26 (27?) lives being lost when lives are lost every day in Syria, the Congo, even the South Side of Chicago?  Why were these lives so much more worthy of people’s angst and attention than those lives?

Since the situation is so close to me, I figured that it was just me who found those arguments ridiculous.  Of course all senseless violence and loss of life is terrible.  These lives are indeed no more or less valuable than the other lives that may be lost in a similar way.  That doesn’t make it any less senseless or terrible.  It’s a false argument to me.  Just because other terrible things happen doesn’t make this terrible thing less terrible.  I brushed it off.

Then in the days that followed, new arguments came.  These were more judgmental, more spiteful:  that this type of thing would have never happened in a more conservative state, where folks routinely walk around with concealed weapons.  That frankly, we’re reaping what we’ve sown here with our more liberal leaning society up here in Connecticut.  There were even some crazy extrapolations of that, stating that this was simply God’s judgement call on a state that is full of wealthy folks, approves of gay marriage and continually sends more progressive type representatives to Washington.

Shocked at the callousness of such statements, the disregard of the real human pain and suffering that I was witnessing all around me, I fumed.  I saw these postings on Facebook, heard them whispered on news outlets in the comments sections, but couldn’t muster myself to respond to them.  These were surely intended to inflame, these types of statements.  Better to ignore and not draw attention to these types of outlandish comments; to acknowledge them would give them validity, I thought.

Instead, I tried to counteract the dark side (is there a light one?) of this tragedy by doing good works myself:  working as a volunteer to help at the school where the Sandy Hook children would later attend, and the warehouse where they myriad of donations were being sent; spreading word of the various things locals could do to help; donating money to the groups set up to handle such things.  I prayed, a lot, to my God, asking Him to help these angry people find peace in their hearts.  I tried to be kinder, gentler to my children, family and those around me.

But still, the darkness seems to be continuing to spread.

A friend clued me in via an email that there seems to be a small but growing contingent of people in our country who are questioning whether the tragedy at Sandy Hook even happened.  They are calling it a “Sandy Hoax”.  Their arguments ranged from the inaccuracies of initial news reports to the lack of tears shed by victims’ families to the dearth of updated information regarding the shootings to the lack of visual images publicly available of the bodies of victims.  The reason for the “hoax” as stated by those who are perpetuating this fallacy is that the whole scenario was elaborately planned and executed, with the help of a left leaning media, to force a conversation and action on gun control in our country.

I am astounded and absolutely disgusted by such arguments and the people who would make them.

In my way of thinking, you’d have to be one cold hearted bastard (I was going to type in “human being” but couldn’t bring myself to use the phrase here) to even imagine such a scenario.  Let me tell you, I am sure these 26 (27?) families that were directly impacted by the loss of life from this tragedy would love nothing better than to wake up today and find this all a dream, a story, a made up reality television show.

Let me be clear, because I live here.   I have spoken with people who saw the bodies at the funerals.  Because I’ve spoken with the grandfather of one of the victims.  Because I got caught in the traffic at one of the wakes.  Because my own children were put on lockdown for hours that day and came home shaken and scared.  Because there are still, to this day, policemen patrolling the schools in my town of Monroe, CT. Because while I didn’t know any of the victims personally, I know so many people who do, too many to even count.  And believe me, those children aren’t hiding somewhere and their parents aren’t helping perpetuate some vast conspiracy game.  Those kids and teacher sare dead.  They’re gone.  The loss is real and raw and  palpable. Just because they’re not showing that grief on camera doesn’t mean it isn’t.

The events of December 14th were, and continue to be  horrific, tragic and unspeakable.  What happened that day is still trying to be unraveled so that those affected can find some way to move forward.

What happened at Sandy Hook isn’t about gun control, or mental health, or some national agenda, or inner city vs. bucolic suburb.  It is about these victims who lost their lives in a senseless act that can’t possibly be explained or understood.   It is about those who loved them.  It is about the many, many who are trying to help everyone affected by these terrible events put some of the pieces back together in a puzzle that will always be missing 26 (27?) of its pieces.  It isn’t about you, or liberals and conservatives, red states versus blue ones, or God’s punishment.  It isn’t about who deserves media attention and who doesn’t, it isn’t about fighting over who gets to sit where at the table of healing, and it certainly isn’t about politics.

So stop.  I say to all of you perpetuating the type of hate that started all of this in the first place, just stop.  Stop claiming it didn’t happen, because it did.  Stop rationalizing your own agendas and trying to fit them into the puzzle of Sandy Hook.  Take a step back, pull yourself away from your anger and your vitriol.  Your time and energy would far better spent trying to be a part of a solution that helps prevent future such tragedies rather than contributing to them with anger and fear.

**Regarding my use of the numbers of victims.  Many talk of the 26 victims of violence that day at Sandy Hook.  I am not sure why the mother of the gunman is not always counted in the victim tally, and perhaps there is a reason that I am unaware of.  Hence my use of 26? 27? in questioning the true number of innocents who perished that day.



A Strange Day

Yesterday was a strange, strange day here in my little corner of the world.  It has been very raw here since the events of 12.14.12.  I’ve written about some of it.  But we knew yesterday was going to be the day that instead of being neighbors to the events everyone was looking at on the news, we were going to be the event on the news.

The Sandy Hook school children were starting school here yesterday.

I knew the building of course, from having lived here.  My children never attended school at Chalk Hill, because it closed before my kids were of age to go there.  But they attended summer programs there, and I’ve been involved with this or that project there from time to time with my volunteering within the school system.  It was amazing to see the tired old structure, which had been the topic of many harsh discussions in  our town, become a jewel transformed from the rough state it had been in.  Watching the moving trucks bring in the students’ belongings and furniture, seeing the dozens of people working to clean and refurbish the building has been moving, exciting, amazing.  And just a few days before the school was set to open its arms for these kids, these survivors, a new sign was put in front of the school, proclaiming it theirs.  Giving them ownership.  A place to belong.  A new place.

The news trucks started showing up the night before.  They were supposed to be located at the park at the end of my street, rather than anywhere near the school.  And there they were, as I drove my daughter to piano lessons on Wednesday evening.  Six or seven satellite trucks.  By the morning, there were at least twenty.  My daughter snapped a photo of the trucks from the bus on the way to school.  She doesn’t attend the middle school that sits next door to the new Sandy Hook; she attends the STEM academy a few miles away, at our high school.  But the two schools share buses, and so she drives onto the campus every day after school.  It’s given her an insight to this tragedy and our response to it that few have.  She’s seen it all, first hand.

After I packed the kids on the bus, and watched the media descend, I went over to the warehouse in Newtown where the donations are being kept.  An email had arrived two days before Christmas with instructions on how to sign up to volunteer, and I signed up for as many slots as I could.  I drove past the new Sandy Hook on my way; there were police on every side street leading up to the school and blocking the entrance.  There were hand made signs, balloons and ribbons on the road that the buses would drive in on.  It was hopeful, welcoming.

Then I crossed into Newtown.

There were more reminders here, but they were sad, somber memorials.  26 wooden angels on sticks on the side of the road.  A heartshaped sign with one simple word:  Peace.  A gas station with “God Bless” below their pricing.  A big green and white ribbon with 26 stars around it.

With that in my head, I pulled into the warehouse.

The warehouse was huge, and bustling.  There were dozens of people working.  Donations from all over the world lined tables, piled on the floors.  There were school supplies, toys, blankets, food.  But most of all, stuffed animals.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of them.  Heartbreaking, some with notes attached.   From Iowa, Georgia, Arizona, Florida.  All over.  My job for the entire shift was to sort through them.  Teddy bears separated out from generic stuffed animals (dogs, cats, penguins, even snakes!, you name it).  Small, medium, large.  Sorted and counted and boxed, over and over and over.  A whole room of us doing this.  There had to have been ten thousand of them sorted, boxed and loaded onto pallets while I was there yesterday.

The people working were a mix of locals like me, disaster relief employees, senior citizens and a church group from Florida who had driven up with a trailer full of donations and then stayed to volunteer.  All of us focused on the task in front of us.  Very few of us spoke about the unspeakable thing that brought us all there to do the work we were doing.  We were young and old, all walks of life, united in tragedy.

I drove away from my shift with tears in my eyes and lead in my chest.  On the way home, more news trucks down the street from me.  I actually drove into the park to get a closer look, I couldn’t believe it.  My tiny little town, our small corner of the world.  Forever changed, forever different, forever on the map of grief of our country.

It was a strange, strange day.  I can’t imagine what it was like for those families.  As much as I am having a hard time processing this grief, I know it is a gift that any of those families wish they had.  My ephemeral sadness as opposed to their gut wrenching loss.

So I’ll keep doing what I can, volunteering at the warehouse, taking any chance we have to help the families here locally, working with our PTOs to support theirs.  And I’ll keep on living, because that’s what we have to do.  Even if sometimes it is with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes.

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