Tuesday, December 18, 2012
So, when I was nine my 12 year old sister died. My mother had a small nervous breakdown and I got angry. I was angry all the time. My mother did her best but she did not have the emotional fortitude to properly parent me. My father left when I was three months old and I had been raised by her alone for my entire life.
Now, my mother was a loved woman and had many friends who chipped in to help her with life and particularly with me. But I was smart enough to give them what they wanted. I presented sadness and distance but did not show my rage. These well meaning women (they were almost all women) were fooled by my clever use of social sense.
I went back to school a month after my sister died. Life went on. I saw a therapist on a weekly basis and he was great. But I was smarter than him and knew what he wanted. I gave him the answers that he wanted. At nine I was more than smart enough to know that giving people what they want is easier and they then leave you alone.
The kids were different. They, for the most part, did not know of my recent loss. I had more trouble acting normal than I did showing the kind of grief that the adults wanted. Normal was rough because I was so very angry.
Our shared class was on the third floor. At the top of the stairs there was a large open area. For milling about, I assume. He made a comment. I don't even know what it was. It was some kid insult but not a very vicious one. Not really mean, I don't think. A little harsh but kinda playful.
I grabbed him. I shook him. I hit him. I hit him more. I slammed him against the railing looking over the stairwell. He got loose and began to run away and I kicked him. Right over the railing.
I remember regaining composure as I saw him fall out of sight. I was filled with sorrow, fear, and rage for his getting too hurt. I was actually partly mad at him for succumbing to gravity. I had such anger toward the world that I was directing my sadness and fear back at the object of my rage as more rage. The teachers grabbed me. Others ran to Dan. He was okay. Few broken ribs and a lot of bruises.
My mother came and got me. I was out for two days. Then they said I could go back to school. They made me sit with Dan in the hospital but they let me back in. No charges against me. Barely a mark on my "permanent record". I did have to go to therapy and anger therapy twice a week. At anger therapy you hit things with padded baseball bats until you are exhausted. Works well.
Apparently, what the principal did was call Dan's parents and just talked to them. Told them what was happening. Dan had insurance and that paid for his injuries. His family did the unthinkable and forgave.
I was not punished. That wouldn't have curbed my behavior. It would have probably made it worse. I was forgiven and the school worked with me and my mother and my therapist and I was rehabilitated. I was brought back from rage and pain and despair.
You may ask "What does this have to do with anything?"
This little bit of my childhood is something I think about whenever there is an act of violence and terror committed by a young man who thought he had no other options. When some poor sad pathetic being has lost such touch with reality that they decide it is a good idea to go out in a blaze of terror I wonder if that could have been me. I wonder how these rage filled people might have been rehabilitated before they took the step that could not be undone.
Yes, I blame granddad's arsenal, I blame the ability and capacity to fire 120 rounds a minute, I blame the American desire to own the most lethal killing machines a human can carry. But the guns are only part of it.
I blame the lack of treatment and the lack of rehabilitative care. Our need to punish as opposed to rehabilitate can make the vulnerable minds among us jaded, ostracized, and angry about it. People who have a hard time with reality and our shared position on reality don't need to be pushed out of it. These are the people who need to be brought in and exposed to the collective nature of people and the group.
There is a time for each and his own and there is a time for the group to care for their weakest. Were I a praying man, I would pray for the wisdom to know the difference.