The pain of recognition
I wasn’t planning on writing a post until after Christmas. Also, I usually make the posts about resources, not about what I’m thinking (believe me, it’s better that way). But the horrible, horrible headline from Connecticut, all those people, all those children, dead … so much for my intentions.
Whenever I hear such news, I look at it in a slightly different light than most: This young man, this gunman, could be my son.
The family of the gunman in Newtown, and of the man at the mall in Oregon, and the man at the movie theatre in Colorado, and in Tucson, and so on – we are all Cinder Cone families. We suspect we know, we really know, the personality profile of the young man before we learn about it from the news reports. We are right.
“Why?” the general public asks. “Why didn’t somebody realize beforehand? What were the parents doing – keeping their heads in the sand?”
You and I can put ourselves in the parents’ shoes more easily.
Before starting this post I looked on the Internet to see what’s being said about the shooting in Connecticut. I didn’t have to go far; the following link came up almost immediately.
And there’s probably lots more relevant articles and posts out there. I thought this one was very eloquent and moving. The writer made many of the points that I’d thought of. Her heartbreak comes through in every paragraph.
Some of our acquaintances over the years have thought I was making too much of Nathan’s situation. And yes, he has not been as extreme as “Michael”, in the link above. And he is more stable now than he was in past years. But we’ve had those years in which we were advised to hide all the sharp knives in the house. One time Nathan’s special ed teacher, who broke up fights every day in his class of emotionally disturbed students, told us to keep Nathan home for a whole week (before Christmas break) because he was too volatile to control. I’ve listened as Nathan has talked about all the types of people who seriously deserve to die (it’s a long list) and his frustration that no one else agrees. And we’ve had at least two of Nathan’s mental health care providers advise us to shield him from news of shootings.
After the Virginia Tech shooting Nathan did hear a report about the gunman’s personality. Then Nathan, whom I love, who has so many good qualities, commented, “He sounds like me.”
I shared that with our family counselor, wno said, “Well, he’s right. Nathan is like that gunman.”
Acquaintances, you try on these shoes.
Parents on the Cinder Cone, we did not sign up for this. (Maybe there are a few foster or adoptive parents who knowingly welcomed teens with mental health challenges to their families. Blessings on you, ten thousand times over!) We are doing the best we can. We want to do better, but the services are few, hard to find, and not always available. That’s the whole point of the blog, to share what little I have found with those who are looking.
EVERYONE – our kids, our families, our society – will be better off when we can get effective help for these young people. Because none of us wants there to be a next horrible, horrible headline.