accepting the impotence

This week is awful, overall.

Sunday started with the general unease I usually feel when my husband is flying across world, which is compounded by the tremendous uncertainty we feel about our next geographical move in the next unknown number of months, exacerbated by an only slightly irrational worry about the threatened actions by North Korea (my husband’s flying home through South Korea tonight).

At times like these I turn into quite a mope, and then I rally, and feel ashamed of myself for my self-pity, and I get on with life. It usually takes a couple hours to get through this little process (and it is generally accompanied by vigorous housecleaning. Our house is really clean.).

But then there was Monday afternoon. I found out about the Boston Marathon bombings from a fellow mom at a park. The kids and I got home, and I glued my face to my computer monitor. I called or contacted everybody I knew in the New England area, including my mother-in-law, who was en route from California and rarely hears from me by cell phone (“Hi Mom, just calling to see how you are… couldn’t remember if you’re flying into Boston… Safe and good travels!” ??? She called back and I explained my weirdness. She’s a kind soul.)

And then there was Tuesday, learning about an 8-year-old boy, and a 29-year-old woman, and a graduate student, and reading about emergency room doctors and orthopedic surgeons and first responders.

And then Wednesday, watching a major news organization implode upon itself. Seeing our Senate fail, utterly fail, the nation. Most Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats, to be exact. And then watching an explosion in Texas (now treated as a crime scene), via a cell phone video of a man with his child. Hearing that child’s reaction.

What am I doing to myself? A more sensible person might tune out a bit, or compartmentalize more, just to be able to get to sleep. But right now, I am drowning in these feelings of… despair? dismay? disgust?

Then I read this:

Processing The Pain « The Dish.

In writing about the Boston Marathon bombings, the Dish reader says:

Your recent post on vengeance prompted this email. My Facebook wall has been telling me that I should “fight darkness with light” (and I agree); that I should use this attack to extend my circle of empathy to overseas massacres occurring against people who are unlike me (I also agree); that I should focus on the people who helped instead of the person who committed the massacre (and I remain in agreement). And yet I don’t just feel “sadness,” I actually feel hate.

That’s it. That’s it exactly. That’s the feeling.

I hate the person(s) responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings. I hate the Senators who blocked simple, wildly supported gun safety assurances (including those who purposefully and stupidly support them for the sake of money or some warped sense of “rights.”). I hate whoever was responsible, through malice or negligence, for the West, TX, fire and subsequent explosion.

And it’s ugly. And far worse, “impotent,” as the writer above notes.

Or maybe not quite.

There are these ugly sides of ourselves, there are feelings in each of us that are tapped under certain mixes of circumstances. They can make you shake with rage, seethe, clench your jaw, cry, and sit in a stupor on your couch as you watch the endless news coverage.

Exhausting you.

I tried this new workout routine yesterday. One part included doing push-ups, military style, to “the point of failure.” I’d never really tried that before; I’ve only recently managed to do as many as Jillian Michaels does in her circuit training workouts… about 15 at a time?… and my chest has never been terribly close to the ground. But I did it yesterday, in as manly a fashion as I could. I stopped counting after 22 because I thought my shoulders would fall out of their sockets. I “failed,”  and then just lay there on my mat. Exhausted. Weakened? But then I got up and finished the rest of the workout.

This week will be over soon. And all the ugliness and impotence of hate will give way to a renewed level of purpose and strength.

It always does, for most of us. For me.


I finished the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in October, 2001, just a few weeks after September 11.

My now-husband had proposed to me a week before the marathon. I remember looking at my ring as we ran past the damaged Pentagon. We needed to run past it twice.

I remember crossing that finish line, greeted by a young Marine who handed me a finisher’s medal who said, “Congratulations Ma’am.” And I burst into tears. 

And I’m trying not to burst right now. I called family in the Boston area and they’re all safe and accounted for. I connected with others I know there, I think they’re okay. 

But nobody’s actually “okay.”

Except for two people, for sure, right now, that I know of: They’re out on the back deck, eating their pasta and garlic bread and sugar snap peas, with their wet little swimsuits hanging off their perfect frames.

I’m so freaking angry at myself that I don’t have any cookies or chocolate cake or ice cream in the house. I want to give them a treat. I need to give them a treat.