Dodging Bullets

I’ve been drawn to looking at houses online and fantasizing about them. My and everyone’s world is more confined due to the pandemic. I have gradually chosen to stay closer and closer to home on my walks because people aren’t socially distancing or wearing masks. I also feel uneasy because I’m Asian and people may be wary and fearful of me, or possibly go on the attack. Also because I’m wearing a mask some have jeered with ridicule and even sneezed and coughed exaggeratedly as I’ve passed.

Because there are more people at home all the time in the complex it’s been noisier with increased activity. More dogs on their balconies and porches with barking, more loud music, etc.

It has me craving our own space. I know it’s a luxury, but I’d love to have a small house with a patch of land to roam around in peace. I plan on visiting Deer Creek Canyon Park one day this week to see if it’s a less crowded walk than around here.

I’m extremely thankful for having a roof over our heads in a beautiful, safe place. I watched a movie City of God today which had me feeling even more appreciative of the first world life I’ve been graced with, not everyone is so fortunate. What a stark, brutal, frenetic movie. I felt like I’d been tossed around and tumbled through a vivid, drug-fueled, violent, predatory, carnal, nightmarish world that couldn’t possibly be real, but it was based on a true story.

My day wasn’t the same after watching the movie. It didn’t help that it’s a chilly, dreary, grey, rainy day which is highly unusual for here. Most days have lots of sun even in the winter. The movie triggered some memories of clients who’ve been traumatized and of some family members who have died by suicide and friends who’ve had family members die by suicide or drug addiction.

I began ruminating over if we can really save people. I mean we can try, but sometimes it seems that once a path is set, it’s really hard to set it back straight again. The characters in the movie were like that, doomed from the get-go. The ones that escaped happened to make a few choices at the right times that helped save them. So try as we might, we can’t save everyone. And if we want to try to save people, how much are we willing to sacrifice in order to save them. What if we end up dooming ourselves too in the process, so both lives are ill-fated. It’s hard to draw the line sometimes, but I’ve had to choose to save myself first and then help within reason.

I often made choices with the children in mind, to protect them.

I’ve had to walk away from situations because from experience I knew it was beyond my scope to change the situation enough to even make a dent. The people involved were not open enough to change, I couldn’t get through to them, so I removed myself from the chaos. I saved myself. Did I feel sad, wishing it could be different? Yes. It’s something you have to live with, the grief arises periodically and you move through it again and again, but eventually it becomes fainter and lighter over time. It hurts less and less. In hindsight and with distance you can clearly see that you made the correct choice. In fact you dodged a bullet.

We can’t always control what happens though. We can be unpredictably traumatized. That’s something we’ll be carrying with us for the rest of our lives. The trauma can cause unexpected responses from within us at random times. It’s not our fault, yet society expects us to be robots and if we are too human we are viewed as a liability.

We’re not allowed to have any hint of vulnerability especially in our working life. I’ve heard, “Leave your problems at home.” But you take yourself wherever you go and trauma often hides. We’re not always able to know when its effects will pop up.

That’s why I’ve chosen to remove myself from situations so I could avoid trauma. I could see it coming, it was inevitable and I wanted no part of it. I’d already had enough. I was fortunate to escape. I was one of the lucky ones.

In City of God no one was unscathed. It’s astounding how extremely diverse the human experience can be on this earth. I try not to dwell on it too much because it’s a heavy weight when you consider it all. I can’t save everyone, though I’d love to.

So for everyone who is not a robot, it’s okay to have a heart, to be vulnerable, to be human, to grieve, to have problems that indeed follow you to work, you are allowed to be a gorgeous loving spirit who has feelings and passion. It’s what makes you compassionate and because you’ve been through some shit you know what it’s like and you can help others who are going through shit too.

When you say we’re all in this together, you really know what that means, what it feels like, because you are being it, because you have a heart wide open with love streaming out because it’s been broken and you survived and know that love’s the only way through it all. You love yourself enough to choose wisely because you’ve grown strong through it all, you get to decide and you own that power of choice.

Even in City of God where your fate was almost certain, there were still choices that could be made to change your trajectory.

It’s comforting to know that we always have choices. We get to decide more than we realize.

Michelle Miyagi
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