Thursday, October 21, 2010

W for Words Are Powerful

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

Or something like that. We’re all familiar with this quote, or some variation of it, but have you ever stopped to consider its meaning? It’s not true. Not at all. As a former victim of emotional abuse, which is a story for another day, I speak from experience when I say that sometimes words can hurt more than sticks and stones (or punches and kicks for that matter). Bumps and bruises eventually heal, but the power of hateful, hurtful words can leave a lasting impact that’s sometimes imperceptible to everyone but the person to whom the words were said.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to downplay physical abuse. Having lost a sister to domestic violence, I know all too well how damaging it can be. I think most people are aware of that, because it's harder to deny the hard evidence left behind by physical abuse. Fewer people seem to know and understand the damage and long term impacts of verbal/emotional abuse.

One need only look at recent news headlines to see how much words truly can hurt. There seems to be an epidemic of gay teens, and some straight teens accused of being gay, committing suicide. Words obviously hurt them. So badly, in fact, that they saw death as the only escape from their pain. They were bullied—no harassed—to death. Day in and day out, these victims suffered in silence as they were tormented by the words of others; others who’d singled them out simply because they were different. It’s disgusting and disturbing and it makes me physically ill—my stomach and heart ache as I write this.

What has the world come to? Where are the parents of these bullies? How is this being allowed to happen? How has being accused of being gay, even if you’re not, become such a horrible thing that one would end his/her life over it? I just don’t get it. Why do people care so much about the sexual preferences of others?! It shouldn’t matter! Live and let live, for crying out loud! I seriously don’t get how or why people fear and loathe homosexuals so much. I know religion plays a role, and I don’t even want to get started down that path at the risk of offending the six or so regular readers I have out there. We are all human beings. Why can’t we treat each other as such?

We, as a society, need to fix this. We can start by teaching our children that words do hurt and it’s not okay to insult, humiliate, taunt, or demean anyone. Ever. We can stand up and show support for victims, and should intervene when we witness such harassment. As adults, we need to model good behavior for children. We need to show them that it’s important to treat others with respect, to be kind, and to not fear what we don’t understand, but rather to seek out knowledge to gain better understanding.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, parents need to step up and parent. You need to know what’s going on with your kids! I don’t care whether your kid is the victim or the bully; you have a responsibility as a parent to step in. You must protect your child; you cannot rely on the school or anyone else to do it for you. If you find out your kid is a bully, it’s your responsibility to teach your child that this terrible behavior will not be tolerated and cannot continue. Sometimes you just have to step up and be the authority figure instead of the friend!

Lest anyone think I’m leaving anyone out, let me assure you that I understand that straight kids are bullied too. I get that. I’ve witnessed it, and I was a victim myself. But the reality is that gay kids and teens are more likely to commit suicide as a result of the constant harassment and torture over their sexuality, because unlike the straight kids, they cannot change the thing that makes them different.

Yep. I said it. Homosexuality is not a choice. Homosexuals are born, not made. And until people understand and accept that fact, I fear this horror will not end. How many more lives need to be cut tragically short before people get it? I don’t care what you think your bible says, and I don’t care what your political party tells its sheeple to believe. You mustn't give in to the fear mongering. People are dying. This has to stop.

I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I did, but I don’t. All I know is that life is hard enough as it is. There is no good reason that any one individual should need to try to make the lives of others any harder. I'd like to believe that we're all more evolved than that, but maybe I'm naïve and too idealistic. Let’s all try to honor the simplicity of the golden rule, shall we? Treat others as you’d like to be treated. I think it really can be that simple.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

U for Update

Hello, lovely reader. Since I haven’t posted in a while, I thought I give you all a quick update of what’s going on in Elle’s world:
School is going pretty well. Busy, as usual. I’m surprised at how quickly I’m catching on to a lot of the algebra concepts. I’ve somehow managed to maintain an “A” so far, but things get harder and harder every week, so we’ll see how it all plays out. This class is super accelerated, because it’s two classes—beginning algebra and intermediate algebra—jammed into one semester. We have lectures Monday and Wednesday evenings with the test(s) for the chapter(s) we’ve learned that week due Sunday at midnight (chapter tests are done online). It’s pretty intense.

The final for beginning algebra is next Wednesday, so I’ve got to find some time to study and practice problems from the first six chapters we’ve covered so far. Even though I’ve done really well on the weekly tests and the midterm, I still want to make sure that I’m comfortable enough with all of the material to do well on the final. In order to move on to intermediate algebra, one must get at least a “C” in beginning algebra, and judging by how far behind some of my classmates currently are, I think there are going to be very few of us (like maybe a dozen) moving on.

Psychology has been interesting so far, but I don’t like taking a Saturday class at all. Class meets from 1-4:30 Saturday afternoon, which seems entirely too long most of the time. The instructor spends the whole time lecturing on the chapter(s) we were assigned to read the previous week and possibly showing a video or two related to the material. Weekly homework is usually a chapter or two of reading, an online tutorial or two related to the material we’ve read (with a worksheet to fill out and hand in), and a video to watch and summarize (one typed paragraph). Overall, the class hasn’t been too tough.

I won’t take another Saturday class again unless I absolutely have to. I hate that half of my weekend is spent on homework and being in class. I typically spend Friday evening finishing up whatever assigned Psychology reading I haven’t finished yet and completing the online tutorials and video summaries. Then, I spend half of Saturday sitting in class listening to a lecture that’s just regurgitation of the material I’ve already read. It feels like a big waste of time.

MusicMan’s sister and her husband were visiting from Hawaii recently, so we went over to his mom’s house for an obligatory family dinner. I wish I could be closer with my sister-in-law (SIL), but it’s hard when she lives so far away and her husband is a giant douchebag. Just to put it in perspective for you, the last time I saw sister-in-law’s husband (Dbag) was a couple years ago. They spent the Christmas after my sister was murdered here in Minnesota. In fact, the night they flew into town and we all met at my mother-in-law’s for family dinner, to meet in person for the first time ever, was the night my sister was killed.

At first, this bonded us all together quite quickly. I was surprised at the support sister-in-law and her Dbag gave me and the sadness they showed over the loss of my sister, whom they’d never met. But, a few days after Christmas and less than a week after I’d lost my sister, we had SIL and Dbag come to our house for the evening to have some drinks and hang out so that we could all get to know each other a little better.

During their visit, SIL’s husband (we refuse to call him brother-in-law because he’s such a giant douche), Dbag, spent part of the evening lecturing me about how we all had a responsibility now to make sure that Li’l D grows up to be a better person than his father (obviously!) and his mother (WTF?!)! He’s lucky I was still exhausted and in shock, because the conversation wouldn’t have gone as calmly as it did had I not been. In fact, thinking of it now makes me want to throat punch him, followed by a swift kick to the groin, while explaining to him what a great person my sister was and telling him that, if her son grows up to even be the slightest bit like her, he’ll be an amazing person, unlike Dbag.

During this recent visit, Dbag barely even spoke to MusicMan or me; except to tell us that one of our dogs, Lucy, is “out of control.” His reasoning was that she “attacked” his dog. First of all, his dog isn’t socialized to other dogs; unlike Lucy, who has regular daycare visits and overnight stays, resulting in her being a well socialized dog. As a result, SIL’s dog doesn’t really know how to behave around other dogs. Second of all, Lucy didn’t attack his dog. She tried to play with his dog, his dog snapped at her, and she responded in kind. A little tussle ensued, which MusicMan and I have learned to just let go for a bit to see if the dogs will work it out because usually they work it out themselves and everything’s fine.

Apparently, Dbag was unaware that dogs should be allowed to work it out (as long as no one was being hurt, which no one was), and he picked Lucy up by her harness and tossed her off of his dog. I was appalled, but held my tongue, keeping Lucy with me the rest of the evening. A few days later, Lucy started to squeal if she was touched the wrong way and she refused to jump up onto the couch or the bed. We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know what. A vet visit and $75 later, we found out that she had a pinched nerve in her shoulder, likely a result of someone picking her up by her harness as though it were a handle. Thankfully, after a week of rest and medication to reduce pain and swelling, she was back to her old self again.

Needless to say, I was livid. I wanted MusicMan to march over to his mother’s house with the vet bill and a few harsh words to Dbag or I was going to do it. Instead, we decided it best to inform his mom as to what had happened, and MusicMan left Lucy at home when we went to dinner a week later to say goodbye to his sister and Dbag (lucky for him, I had class that night and couldn’t attend dinner at mother-in-law’s). Mother-in-law, who excels at passive-aggression, made a few digs at Dbag here and there during dinner, according to MusicMan, but I’m still not happy that no one (including myself) said anything directly to him about the fact that he had injured our dog and he is a giant douchebag.

I don’t typically hold grudges, but I’m so done with Dbag. Though I love and respect my mother-in-law, I will no longer run to her house for obligatory family dinners simply because sister-in-law and Dbag are in town, granting us simpletons the honor of basking in the glow of their presence. No thanks. Despite what they seem to think, and how other family members seem to act about their visits, they are not special. Since they can’t even manage to thank us for switching our schedules around to take the time to visit with them while they’re here, nor can they seem to manage to even fake enjoyment over seeing us, I see no reason to make a big deal out of their visits. The limited free time I have can be spent on much, much better things and with much, much better people.

I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block lately, which is why I haven’t been posting as much. My carpal tunnel seems to be flaring up quite a bit lately too, which sends shooting pains up my right arm and the back of my hand and has my fingers constantly cramping and aching too. No good!

MusicMan has finally uploaded all of the Lake Tahoe photos, so I’m going to pick some of my favorites to post soon. I hope all is well in your world, lovely reader!

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