And I'm not using the term "triggered" in the modern new-agey snowflakey buttercuppy kind of sense – as someone who has spent the last several decades learning to live with her complex post-traumatic stress injuries, I am fully aware of the difference between being psychologically triggered and merely a little annoyed, thank you very much.
It started when I saw the (sadly, unsurprising) news that last week's massacre in Nova Scotia had started as domestic violence. Which the media twisted into being a rampage that had been sparked by "a domestic dispute".
A domestic dispute is arguing over which way the toilet paper roll gets hung, or how best to allocate the family budget. It does NOT include one of the parties having to run away from said domicile to hide in the woods until 7am.
The latter is ASSAULT, or DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (although the addition of "domestic" has always bothered me, as it often seems to be used to make the violence seem not as bad as if some stranger hauled off and punched you in the street).
Then, I was masochistic enough to read some of the comments (I know, I know...), which included such gems as accusing the woman who had to hide in the woods until 7am of being a part of the murderer's plot, or at least somehow responsible for it; another who was happy that the December 6 massacre was no longer Canada's worst (so we wouldn't have to hear from all those yammering feminists again); not to mention all these armchair pundits coming out of the woodwork to declare this to have been a random, unpredictable "snap" by someone with obvious mental health issues.
Okay, I'm going to go into further detail in a sec, but if you want to just skip to the punch line(s), here we go:
If you re-read paragraph #2, you will recall that I have spent the last several decades with some pretty damned serious mental health issues. And yet, I have not murdered a single human being. I haven't even hit one. And while I now have lots of tools and knowledge to help keep my C-PTS symptoms at a low murmur, even at my wildest, bat-shit crazy moments, neither murder or violence were ever, EVER even a remote possibility for me. There's a reason for that. (Oh, keep reading, you didn't think I'd give the ENTIRE punch line away this early, did ya?)
For the last couple months, women's shelters and other organizations have been warning us all that the current self-isolation guidelines, mixed with stress and uncertainty over the pandemic, were going to create a tremendous rise in domestic abuse and femicide. And we'd already seen those rates ramping up – at least, those of us who were paying attention. This wasn't a random act, it was predictable and predicted. Not because men would, in their boredom, suddenly decide to become abusive during isolation, but because those who were already abusive would, in a time of stress and uncertainty, escalate their behaviour, and the only target available would be the woman forced to stay in isolation with them, with no workplace or friend's place to safely and excusably escape to, even for an hour.
Using the term "mental illness" as an excuse for misogyny and toxic masculinity is just plain wrong, and perpetuates the damned problem. It's about bloody time we call it what it is, so we can start to prevent these very predictable occurrences from occurring.
As those who have followed my musings already know, September always feels more like a new year to me than January – even though I've not been a student for [cough cough] decades, and haven't even been a part of the school system since the early part of this century, this time of year always feels like a new beginning. The nights start to cool down at the end of August, and I still remember the feeling of National Music Camp, as we tucked our clothes into our sleeping bags at night, so we could get changed without subjecting ourselves to the crisp morning air. Knowing that once camp was over, it would be time to gather the school supplies, and face the new school year. It's still the time of year when I dream up new projects and adventures, get back into some semblance of a routine, start fresh.
This year is similar, in that I'm excited for change. But oh, so different in what that change is gonna be.
I have a daily creative practice, which includes a 20-minute free-write, inspired by a line (or two) from the "poem of the day" at Poems.com. The writing isn't meant for public consumption, just to get the juices flowing, before I get started on the "real" stuff. But today... I kind of like what I came up with, so I'm going to break my own rules and share it (with the caveat that the other rules include no editing, no polishing, so please don't come back at me with fixes, because THAT AIN'T THE POINT).
Today's jump off point was from Two Poems by Julie Bowsma – the first poem began with "Dear ghosts, how can we stop the sunlight spinning the story from our hands?" and ended with "All I know is this: even before I was born I breathed a loss not my own." (So you just know I relished it!)
Here's where that took me:
Trauma has tentacles. Backward and forwards. Like the stone chip on the windshield, left unattended, as it spider-webs across the flat clarity, until all is unstable. Until the soft bounce of a feather sends it into oblivion.
Am I the feather? I was afraid I was, for the longest time. Now I feel like the fist. Don't you see this is broken? Don't you want it replaced? Here, let me speed up the process, before somebody loses an eye.