An Uncomfortable Week-Part 1

I try to avoid politics as much as I can on this blog. I like people and I want my followers to be comfortable reading of my adventures out in the big wide world. I like that people can read my posts and laugh, cry, and be moved or bored. Today I am stepping out of my and maybe your comfort zone.

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. I have felt sad, horrified, and angry. I have also noted moments of reflection about the times I have been to the United States Capitol in Washington DC.

Like most people, seeing the Capitol building assaulted by a group of people who were out for blood and “revolution” broke my heart. Who are these people? What gives them the right to desecrate this incredibly gorgeous building? They said this was their home and they were taking it back. Well if it is their home it is mine too and I am not happy with how these groups treated my home. I am not happy with how they treated the nation. I am not happy at all.

Who are these people? I read an article that said they urinated in the halls, spread feces on the walls, and destroyed for the sake of destroying. Who does this? Who thinks this is a good idea? I cannot support a revolution where people think this is OK. Who taught them that this kind of action is OK?

I felt such pain for that building. Have you ever been there? If not you should go, well not now. The historic buildings in Washington DC are incredible works of art. They are not buildings, they stand for so much more. After several architects, the Capitol building was completed in 1836. It had already witnessed an attempt at its own destruction during the War of 1812 when the British tried to burn it to the ground. It didn’t work and it remains a symbol of a now floundering democracy today.

Capitol Rotunda.

I read that some of the rioters after breaking into the rotunda dropped their mouths when they looked up at the rotunda. They started to take photos. Who can blame them, it is a beautiful space. This is what they wanted to destroy. Some said that this is a symbol of what is wrong with this country. I disagree, this is a symbol of what is right in our country. This is a symbol of freedom. Freedom from the oppression of the British. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. Freedom to become better. I don’t believe it is the freedom to destroy.

After the grounds were finally secured, the cleaning up began. Who cleaned this mess left by mostly white supremacists? It was black people whose job is to take care of our house. I read an article about these people and I know it may sound a bit romantic but, here is the final quote in the article. “With each stroke of the broom, they were slowly helping to piece this democracy back together. It’s what Black people have always done, no matter the circumstances, no matter the burden placed upon their back.” I couldn’t agree more although I believe I would add many people of color and caucasian as well.

There was one other person helping to pick up the mess that these groups left behind. New Jersey Representative Andy Kim was helping the other workers.

“When he finally did walk around the rotunda — his favorite and arguably the most storied room of the building — the disarray left him speechless. Water bottles, broken furniture, tattered Trump flags and pieces of body armor and clothing were strewn on the marble floor as if it were an abandoned parking lot.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Kim, 38, told NBC Asian America. “It’s a room that I love so much — it’s the heart of the Capitol, literally the heart of this country. It pained me so much to see it in this kind of condition.”

So for the next hour and a half, he crouched down and filled a half dozen trash bags with debris. When he finished cleaning up the rotunda, he began working on the adjacent rooms, including the National Statuary Hall and the Capitol crypt downstairs.

Then he returned to the House floor to debate Pennsylvania’s vote count, a session that lasted until 3 a.m. By Thursday evening, he’d been awake for more than 36 hours.

On a day in which video of mayhem and bloodshed inundated social media, a widely shared photograph of Kim, alone on his knees, picking up the final pieces of garbage in a nearly empty rotunda, was a radical break from — and rejection of — the violent impulses that drove the country to the brink of collapse. Many people labeled him a “true patriot.” While Kim said he didn’t dwell much on the symbolic heft of his actions, the term was on his mind.”          Asian American News

Today I am proud of Andy Kim. He represents what is right in this country. He represents what is right in our government. He and others like him project hope for the future.

I have biked and kayaked and walked my way through the end of the week. I seek nature when my head and heart can handle it no more. I feel sad for this country at the moment. Our leadership has created such divisiveness and I am not sure that it will be easily corrected. As this country has done before I believe we will persevere and move forward hopefully in a more gentle direction.

Meanwhile, I will breathe. My niece, who is a youth minister in the Presbyterian Church shared a meditation when this was happening on Wednesday. Brittany, I changed the words a little. I will breathe in peace and I will breathe out peace to others. Breathing is sometimes all one can do.

I may send some love to my amazing and steadfast home in DC as well.

This is a part 1 in a series of at least 2. If you don’t want to read it, you don’t have to.

PTSD and Life Experiences

In mid-December I had my annual checkup with my surgeon and oncologist.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My initial reaction to this news was anger, furious anger. I was mad about having my life interrupted by a tiny, small lump in my breast. I believe that the anger masked the fear that this diagnosis instantly creates in most people who receive this diagnosis.

The good news is, that I am now eight years out and going well and strong. Some things changed due to this diagnosis. I watch what I eat, I am not perfect but I manage to pay a bit more attention to my diet. I exercise regularly. And each day I am thankful for one more day on this planet.

Then Jim got diagnosed with cancer. It was different this time. I was not angry. I was strong. Yet when he got diagnosed with the metastasis from the original cancer, I had a different reaction. Even when he was well, I found I was enacting, in my head, how to live without him. It was at this point, feeling guilty for creating this alternate life, that I decided to go into therapy. I still see my counselor for a check up a few times a year. It is good to check in.

When I had my appointment with my surgeon in December, I told him that there are just some months I cannot do my self breast exam. It is fear that stops me. What if I find something? What do I do? How can I do this again? He was the first person to mention that I had a little bit of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). He also informed me that most people, after any major life altering situations, have a bit of PTSD. Wow, I had never heard this before. It makes sense. He told me that it is OK to miss months. It is OK.

It is OK to acknowledge that I am human. It is OK to have PTSD. Giving this unknown stress a name has been helpful for me. Ah, here comes my ally, “fear”. Now I understand a bit more about my ally. The more that I can learn about fear the less of hold it has on me. I refuse to allow fear to take over. I don’t have time for it. As I learn more about fear,  the less it surfaces in my life. Maybe this knowledge will let me be kinder to myself. Hopefully,  I can let go of the guilt when I miss that important exam. Now there is one less hold fear has on me.

I really like my team of doctors. That is important. I love that my surgeon comes in the exam room, sits down and talks with me as if we are old friends. We catch up. We share pictures and stories. He is professional and kind. My oncologist is also a delight. She is smart and wise and she understands that fear. Why? She has had cancer. All my visits end with a hug and I find myself relax and feel like I am being loved and supported. I am ready to face another year.

PTSD is a diagnosis. I have often thought we all are walking wounded. We are wounded from life experiences. It is normal, it is life. We have good wounds and bad wounds. I think the good ones way outnumber the bad ones. Hopefully this knowledge will help me be kinder to myself, and to others, a little more patient and forgiving.

 

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