What a strange follow up this morning’s post about the seemingly impossible things that are very real in my everyday…
Have you ever blog surfed? You know, jumped from one blog to the next via post links and blogrolls until you’ve stumbled upon something you never would have encountered otherwise?
After my musings about believing in (by seeing and experiencing) the impossible in my life, I went blog surfing. I stumbled onto a post that was chilling. I’ve never encountered this blog before, know nothing of the woman who pens it.
The post I’d stumbled upon was a suicide note, written in third person like a eulogy, complete with birth and death dates. The death date was yesterday. The post date was today.
We all know I am a sympathetic sucker for complete strangers, so there was the first wave of horror, one accompanied by thoughts of “Oh my god, I hope someone found her before she went through with it.” I was worried and distraught and genuinely concerned for this stranger’s well-being.
Then I was angry with her. Furious. Evidenced by the photos in the banner of her blog, this woman has children, three of them. They’re young, but not so young that they won’t remember this and be hugely and grossly affected by it. In her post, she wrote “[She] left behind three beautiful children, who were the lights of her life. She hopes that with her presence erased, they have a hope at growing up healthy and happy. She knew first hand how crippling it can be to be raised with the shadow of a unstable mother, so her last act of kindness was to break the cycle completely for them.”
As a mother, my initial response was this: What the fuck? What a totally selfish and skewed way of thinking. In no way will these children ever view their mother’s suicide as an “act of kindness,” and they’ll be very lucky if someone pushes them into the therapy they’ll need to come out on the other side of this “healthy and happy.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is my response because I just don’t understand how this woman can possibly think this way. How does her brain work such that she can come to this conclusion? Even more thought-provoking: how does my own brain work such that I can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my own conclusions are right and real?
The only time I pray is on airplanes, and it’s always exactly the same, right before the wheels leave the ground and right before they touch down again: “Please god, keep me safe. I have children who need me.” I rationally don’t believe in a god that answers such prayers. And yet, I say them because somewhere deep inside my consciousness or maybe even my subconsciousness, I harbor some grain of belief that something outside of myself has the power to give me what I want. And what I want more than anything is to be with my family, to be a part of my children’s lives.
This woman doesn’t think like that. She claims that her children are the lights of her life, and yet, she’s willing to walk away from them forever because she believes that they will be better without her.
And the difference boils down to this: I believe I am a good mom, that my children are better with me in their lives than they would be without me. This woman believes she is a bad mom, that her children are better without her in their lives that they would be with her. Those are our respective realities.
I don’t think this woman was a bad mom. She obviously struggled with motherhood, with marriage, with work, with life, with depression. But are bad moms capable of being so self-aware and so self-reflective that they are capable of looking in a mirror and saying “This behavior is bad for my children, so bad that they would be better without me.” I’m not sure. But this woman believed, believed with her whole being, that her children would have a better life, a happier life, without her. I don’t understand how the human brain works, and I don’t understand how faith and belief work. I cannot rationalize why I think about my children and my presence in their life one way and this woman thinks about it in a completely different way.
How do two creatures with the same biology and access to the same types of hormones and neurons that form our individuals psychologies arrive at two such very different places? How did two women, with only a week and a half difference in their ages, each with three children, each with a penchant for writing, come to a place in their respective lives in which their whole belief systems are based in the same core–“As a mother, I must do what is best for my children”–but are acted upon with such divergence that they are complete opposites? One can do nothing but beg the universe to let her stay with her children while the other wants to permanently separate herself from her children–and yet, both of us would claim that such action is in the best interest of our children.
Beliefs are real for the people who believe them. How does that happen? I believe, with every fiber of my being, that my children need me. And in a whole ‘nother question about morality and ethics and science and logic and faith–how do I know I’m right? How do I know she’s wrong? Sure, we can point to science and research, but aren’t they just extensions of a belief system? We research X, pattern A emerges, and therefore pattern A becomes what is “normal” or “right” and “true.” And then more science and research happens and pattern B emerges and pattern A is shot to hell. We believed A until B cropped up. Now do we believe B knowing that C might make an appearance at any given moment? We could just doubt everything, but that leads us into an ether of non-existence. So somehow, we establish beliefs. We grasp at the evidence and build something so concrete that we have no choice but to exist (or not exist) in our realities, with our beliefs, with our truths. (And for centuries a whole throng of people have published book after book full of existential musings trying to answer these questions with god or non-god.) For some, those individual truths lead to life, for others they lead to death. Whether those beliefs are right or wrong is left to be seen, but for the time being, those are our realities, our realness, our knowns, our truths.
I read later today, on one of the blogs that led me this chilling post in the first place, that this woman has been located and is safe. Mentally healthy–no. But physically safe–yes. I want to pass judgment on her, to claim her batshit crazy and hope her kids have something stable and sane in their lives, to call her on her bullshit and slap her in the face for even considering doing that to her children and claiming it a sympathetic move. But I can’t do that. Instead, I have to offer her positive, healing energy and a hope that she can believe in the impossibly good things that are real in her life (hopefully at least six before breakfast). And I have to do it that because of all that I–and science–don’t know about biology, about brain function, about psychology, about personality, about being. Dead or alive, I hope she and her family find peace.