These days I’m finding that, for me at least, Facebook is becoming a negative black hole and I should stay away. On the rare occasion that I’m on it, though, I always stumble upon something that leaves me horribly sad. On this particular day, I saw one of those Someecards floating around my news feed… those things can be hilarious, but this one made me angry.
“With all of these taxes I’m paying, I should at least be sent a photo of the ghetto family I’m supporting.”
And there I sat, with my jaw on the floor. I wanted to reach through my computer screen and slap the people who posted that in the face. How dare they. First of all, ghetto? Really? That in itself is an assumption, but mostly it’s just offensive and hurtful. The comments left underneath the photo were just as bad. Apparently, everyone on welfare/food stamps/government assistance are all moochers, low class, lazy, scum of the earth, abusers of the system who don’t strive to move forward in life. At this point, I’m practically yelling at my computer, and I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went through the roof. But most of all, my heart broke.
I am SO sick and tired of people who make these giant assumptions. Sick. And. Tired. It’s so ignorant. Insensitive. Mean-spirited. And downright shitty. Not to mention - completely inaccurate. ARE there people who abuse the system? Absolutely. And it’s wrong and we need to find a way to stop that. But that is only a percentage… there are many, many people in this country who fight and struggle everyday to survive and to provide for themselves and their loved ones, and as hard as they try, they still need help. We don’t know everyone’s situation. So just assuming like that? It’s really, really wrong.
I know this woman, a single mom. The father of her children abandoned them. She doesn’t have family who can help. She works tirelessly to provide for her three precious children, but sadly, it’s not enough. She needs a little extra help. And through government assistance she’s getting that help. What kills me is the shame put on her because of it - making her believe that she is worthless as a mother, that she is less than, that she’s not good enough. When really, she is incredible. She is acting as both a mother and a father. She is fighting for her children. Everyday. Fighting so they don’t have to go to bed hungry, or without shelter, or shoes on their feet. Fighting so they can have a chance. She’s a fighter, who needs a little help sometimes. I don’t see any shame in that. She is not “lazy”, or “low class”. She’s a strong woman and a hardworking mom. A hero to her children.
This is who I stand up for, who I get defensive for, and who I cry for when I see Facebook posts like the one above. My question to the people who posted that is - what are you doing to make this issue in our country better? How are you lending a helping hand to bring people out of these situations? Are you fighting for these people? Are you fighting for better wages? Are you fighting for equal pay for women? Women like the one I mentioned - mothers who are giving up everything for their babies? What are you doing other than complaining and making awful assumptions? Your ignorance, your arrogance, and your negative attitude - what are you accomplishing by acting this way? Nothing will change if you don’t do something. Something kind, something progressive, something productive, something helpful, something from your heart. If you surrounded these people who need us, lifted them up and helped them fight - we could move forward. More and more people could provide for themselves, for their families, all on their own. Think about that.
Most of all… be grateful. Grateful for the life that you live. A life in which things like welfare don’t exist. That doesn’t have to be an option for you, you aren’t faced with that choice. But what if one day you were faced with it - how would you want to be treated? With compassion, right? Remember that the next time you make a mean “joke”. Be grateful for what you have now. You are blessed, you have so much. Sit with that for a moment, and thank the heavens that this life is yours, because there are people out there who would give anything to be in your shoes.
I fell in love with Bradley Cooper once.
Ok, not the real Bradley Cooper (although I did meet him randomly a few years ago while buying records and he was very sweet), but someone who reminded me of him. A lot. So much so, that when the relationship was over, I couldn’t see a photo of Bradley Cooper or watch a film trailer with him in it, without getting tears in my eyes and a sharp pain in my stomach. He always brings me back to that person that had my heart for so long. It’s crazy, the way we attach a relationship to a certain song, or movie, or in my case, an actor. After a long, long time of avoiding any film with him in it, I decided to watch Silver Linings Playbook. And what happened to me during the film was an emotional, heartbreaking, yet oddly healing discovery.
In the film, Bradley Cooper plays a man who is bipolar, and watching his character deal with this illness made me realize so much about the relationship I was in. It was like I was, in many ways, watching the person I once loved. Maybe not as extreme, but it somehow felt… familiar. (The fact that Cooper looks so much like this person made it all the more familiar) And at first, that was scary. And I found myself reliving moments that I would rather forget. (But also really needed to deal with and process and let go) I sat through the entire two hours with tears in my eyes.
This relationship. It was a messy, emotional, rollercoaster ride… but there was love. And there were times when it was really good, and my heart was happy, and those are the moments I try to remember because in all honesty, I have never loved someone so much. And that’s what I try to keep in my heart. The good times. Sadly, it was also all over the place. This person - his highs were… euphoric. Blissful. Positive. Joyful. And his lows… were the lowest. Sadness, depression, isolation, silence. It was heartbreaking to watch someone feel so down. “Oh I’m fine, it’s just stress - sometimes it depresses me and I feel sad but it’s really nothing,” was what he would say. “Well, maybe you should talk to someone about it, it might make you feel a lot better” “I’m not crazy, is that what you’re saying? I’m totally fine, it’s nothing!” So I didn’t push it, and I ignored that feeling in my gut that something just wasn’t right. I think deep down I thought it was me, which is something I never thought I would do - blame myself for someone else’s problems that had nothing to do with me. Long story short, things got worse. I became more confused. His highs were shorter, but more… manic? And his lows stuck around longer, with more silence than ever before. Sometimes we wouldn’t speak for days, weeks. The more I gently confronted the more upset he became. The more he withdrew. I felt like he resented me, like I was the face of truth and he couldn’t handle it. And before I knew it… it was over. And he disappeared. And I felt completely lost and broken. For the longest time, I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t want to. Mostly because I just couldn’t understand… what was wrong? What happened? What was going on in his mind? Is he going to be ok? I had a sneaking suspicion in my heart for a while as to why he acted the way he did, but I never really talked to anyone about it and I ended up pushing it to the back of my mind. Watching this film was like one big confirmation. (That sounds silly, but it’s the truth) So much made sense. The mood swings. The depression and emotional breakdowns one minute, the hyper fast-talking the next. The sleepless nights, the dramatic stories that sometimes didn’t make complete sense. I watched this film unfold and my heart hurt. I cried. And I felt unbelievable sadness. But there was also a small part of me that felt relief. This was not my fault. I didn’t do anything to cause this to happen to him, and it was probably something he’d been dealing with for a long time. Do I know for sure that this guy, that I loved so much, has this illness? No. But it was something like this. I know that now. And watching this film helped me process a lot of things that I had kept buried. And in the end, I now have more compassion and empathy for him… I can’t imagine the struggle, the pain, and the confusion that must occur in his heart & mind on a daily basis.
While I wish, so badly, that I could have helped him during the time we knew each other - while I wish he would have let me help… I am holding him in my heart and saying a prayer that wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, that something inside him will nudge him in the right direction. That the people in his life will surround him and give him what he needs. That he’ll do it for himself and for his future. And that through it all, he’ll find true joy and peace.
It’s okay to get help. It’s okay.
Ryan Adams & Laura Marling - Oh My Sweet Carolina