On Suicide and Selfishness

Friday, July 31, 2015
Today marks the second anniversary of my daughter's death.

It's been two years since she chose to end her life, and I'm two years into my grief journey.

It's been a long two years. It's now easier for me to talk about. Sometimes I can even do so without crying. I can share memories of Moe with those who love her, and take pleasure in the sharing. I believe I've come to some level of understanding about her suffering, and why she felt she had to choose the path she did. I'm far enough along that I feel ready to write about it, while recognizing that I'm not done, not by a long shot.

Based on my reading and conversation with other suicide survivors, I understand that many people become very angry when a loved one chooses to end their life. Survivors consider the victim to be "selfish," and curse them for inflicting such horrible pain.

I've never felt that way.

The thing that eats at my heart and brings me to tears is imagining the depth of Moe's suffering. How bad must her inner life have been that she would take such a drastic measure?  How lacking in hope, how intense her pain that she would remove herself from the world, knowing the pain it would cause to those who love her? It breaks my heart to think she was hurting this much, and also knowing that her depression lied to her about the availability of help and of hope. I would have cashed in my life savings, sold our home and lived on the streets to pay for her treatment, if that's what it took. I suspect she knew this, and didn't think she was worth it. Which breaks my heart all over again.

But I'm not angry, nor do I think she was selfish. She knew how this decision would affect those who loved her. She had been thinking about this for months, and held on as long as she could because she knew that taking her life would "make Momma and Poppa and Linda cry." She held on as long as she could, not for her own benefit, but for ours. 

In my mind, my own insistence that she continue to suffer in this horrific fashion to benefit my own happiness would be the act of selfishness. Who damns their own child to a life of suffering and pain so that they don't have to hurt?


Would I have rather she received the treatment she needed so she could have come out of the darkness and into the light? I can't even tell you how much I wish this. Every day, I grieve for her lost potential, for her light that has been extinguished in the world. Every day, I grieve for that lost outcome, and curse myself for not seeing the depth of her suffering. But I know she couldn't see the truth of the matter. In her mind, she was going to feel that way forever, with no reprieve or hope of recovery.

And because I know she felt that way, I cannot be angry with her, or consider her selfish. She wanted to end her suffering. I can now acknowledge and understand that fundamental truth of her life. And so when I think about my lost Moe, I feel sadness, and regret, and love, and loneliness. But not anger.

Eventually, I hope to reach a point where I'm emotionally strong enough to participate in suicide prevention activism. Not today. Probably not this year. But someday. 


Link Me Up, Scotty - Fierce Women Edition

Monday, July 27, 2015
The Tree Lobsters provide a dishearteningly realistic view into approximately 90% of all engineering meetings held on Planet Earth.
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Brother David once again provides funny, thoughtful political analysis, this time on The Donald and how the Republicans have painted themselves right into a Trump-sized corner.
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There's no need to wonder why our roads are in such terrible shape. There's no money. This is what comes from a "all taxes are BAD" mentality. Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. They're a necessary evil. Because roads (or your choice of infrastructure projects) are necessary.
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From the "women are fierce" file. A sex worker in Charleston, VA, shoots and kills a client in self-defense. The man is now being investigated for a series of sex worker homicides in two states.

H/T Brother Seth
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How dogs react to stress depends on their temperament. I find this utterly unsurprising. There's a reason why successful dog/horse/cat whisperers are typically very calm people. It also explains why Miss Jackson Pi loves me best, but minds The Smart Man more.
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I love this story about a woman who started a business making hearing aid covers for kids' hearing aids. Since my own hearing is starting to go, I'll probably get several - one for every mood. Wonder Woman, The Minions, Dug.

H/T Brother Juan
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Dogs play for free at Sunningdale Gold Club. If there was a course around here that allowed dogs, I might even take up golf again.
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Turns out that the whole "Hillary used her personal e:mail to communicate classified information and is now being criminally investigated by the Justice Department" story is a manufactured scandal, fabricated and misreported by the media, specifically The New York Times. Whether you like Hillary or not, the truth matters. Being manipulated by partisan writers pretending to be journalists is not a road I want to go down, regardless of which side of the aisle is doing the manufacturing.

H/T Brother Jim
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So a dude organizes a "Straight Pride" parade in Seattle, and his turn out was, shall we say, less than stellar. Dude then blames gay people, because reasons? I find this HI-LARIOUS.
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Video of the week: Cancer patient and sexual and domestic abuse survivor Lena used her Make-a-Wish to make a video about surviving and thriving in the aftermath of abuse. Brava, Lena. You're an amazing person, with a bright future.

H/T Brother Seth


Nutrition "Experts"

Saturday, July 25, 2015
How to determine the scientific rigor and veracity of a self-styled nutrition "expert:"

1. Are they a certified Dietitian? Remember, "Dietitian" is a legally protected term. Any mouth breathing dolt with a web page and a 4th grade education can claim to be a "nutritionist." Just sayin'.

2. Are they trying to get you to try the latest Fad Diet? If so run away.

3. Do they receive commercial gain unrelated to their primary practice for recommending a product? "RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!"

4. Google their name and "GMO." Their stance on this scientifically settled issue will tell you all you need to know.

This has been a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men.

Admitting my ABCs

Friday, July 24, 2015
Ah, another Facebook meme, moved to blog-space because I'm verbose. 
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A- Age: 50. Can you believe that shit? There were so many years where I was always the youngest person in the room on a professional basis, and now that's most assuredly not the case. Also? My shoulder has started to hurt for no apparent reason. Lovely.
 
B- Biggest Fear: Dementia. As I've gotten older, my memory has started to go, and I'm terrified I'm doomed to a later life of fear and dementia. Scary. 

 
C- Current Time: 7:27 a.m. I have a non-participatory call every Friday at 7:00 a.m., so I'm listening while answering.

 
D- Drink you last had: Caramel Vanilla Coffee. Hm....coffee. 


E- Easiest Person To Talk to: This is a tough one. There are three people in my life with whom I can share anything: 

  • The Smart Man, because he's my partner in this life, and I love him to pieces. And he's my friend, too, which is extra-special bonus material. It's dreadfully important for me to have a partner I like, and who likes me in return. I've done it the other way, and it blows.
  • The Mechanicky Gal and Sister Stacey, because they're my sisters, and I love them. They've seen me at the absolute lowest points in my life (and in the case of The Mechanicky Gal, more than once), and have helped pull me back into the light. It's not an exaggeration to say their friendship is one of the most precious things in my life. 
I once heard a piece of marriage advice that was basically, "Nurture your friendships with other women." Just so. It's inappropriate to ask a single person, even if they're your spouse, to be ALL THINGS to you.

F- Favorite Song: At the moment it's The Parting Glass, performed by Peter Hollens.


G- Grossest Memory: Being initiated to Chief Petty Officer while serving on the USS JASON. Yuck.


H- Hometown: Wheat Ridge, Colorado

I- In love with: The Smart Man. <3>


J- Jealous Of: I'm not really jealous of anyone. But I am envious of parents who have never lost a child. 
 
 K- Killed Someone? No

L- Longest Relationship: 17 years


M- Middle Name: Janiece


N- Number of Siblings: None that aren't dead to me. But I have Sister Stacey and the Mechanicky Gal, so I consider that an outcome that's well to my advantage.

 
O- One Wish: To have been able to save my daughter. 

 
P- Person who you last called: Mom. I really, really don't like to talk on the phone, but make an exception for (as Moe used to call it) "The Parentals."


Q- Question you're always asked: "Would you mind taking this on?"

R- Reason to smile: Miss Jackson Pi

S- Song you last sang: Wreck of the Day, recorded by Anna Nalick


T- Time you woke up: 5:58 a.m. Thank you, Miss Jackson Pi.
 
U- Underwear Color: Peach paisley

 
V- Vacation Destination: New York, NY (with Sister Stacey and the Superlative J.R.! Squee!)


W- Worst Habit: Being self-righteous. I've been struggling with this for YEARS, and some days I'm more successful in keeping it under control than others. 

X- Xrays you've had: Both feet, wrist, knee
 
Y- Your favorite food: The edible kind.

 
Z- Zodiac Sign: Who cares?

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You can thank longtime reader Anissa_Roy for this one.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Clown Cars and Klingon Edition

Monday, July 20, 2015
It seems that Texas is being sued because they refuse to issue birth certificates to American citizens. This blatant violation of the 14th Amendment is taking place because - wait for it - the parents of the babies in question are in this country illegally. So even though the children are by definition American citizens, the Office of Vital Statistics is trying to use obscure regulations to deny them their birthright. Because I guess the Constitution doesn't apply to brown people? Or to the babies of brown people? "Real Americans" my pasty white ass. Hypocrisy, thy name is Texas government. Jerkwads.
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The Welsh government decided to respond to a report of a UFO at Cardiff Airport in Klingon. There's nothing not to love here.
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Professional historian, Smart Man and Platonic Boyfriend David weighs in on marriage equality from an historical perspective. My favorite part:
Justice Scalia’s main point – at least as far as I got into his opinion, since after the first few pages it began to get more than a little tiresome – is that “a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court” has somehow dared to determine what the Constitution actually means and how it applies to the law, and Justice Scalia finds this unacceptable.  I’m not sure how a sitting Supreme Court Justice can be so bone-ignorant about the proper role and function of the American judiciary and still draw a paycheck, but there it is.  Further, the fact that this complaint was repeatedly echoed in Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent is profoundly disturbing.  To be honest, Scalia’s opinion made me question his basic fitness for the job.  It’s pretty clear that he has abandoned all pretense of judicial professionalism and is simply there to present an extreme partisan viewpoint. 

Nowhere in his dissenting opinion, for example, does Scalia explain how the majority of the nine lawyers on the Court is illegitimate in this particular case, where Scalia is notably in the minority, and yet perfectly legitimate in other cases where Scalia is in a similarly narrow majority.  Just off the top of my head, I would inquire as how he would apply this dubious reasoning in such cases as DC v. Heller (which overturned centuries of legal precedent and the express intent of the Founding Fathers in order to declare gun ownership an individual rather than collective right), or the single most grotesque parody of a judicial decision of the last half century, Bush v. Gore (which appointed to the presidency a Republican with half a million fewer popular votes than his Democratic opponent, without even so much as an investigation into the widespread and substantial allegations of electoral fraud that gave that Republican his semblance of victory in the Electoral College).  But those cases furthered Scalia’s partisan agenda, and were thus somehow acceptably decided by that newfound terror in the legal system, “a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
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A woman live-Tweets her account of a most horrendous first date taking place at the next table in a coffee shop. The money quote:
Responses to my bad date live-tweet Men: you're so mean and I bet you made this up anyway Women: I have been on this exact date.
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An article providing a different point of view on Why Israel, Saudi Arabia and Neocons Hate the Iran Deal. The money quote:
"What Netanyahu and King Salman want Obama to do is to wage war against Iran—or, more to the point, to fight their wars against Iran for them. That is why they so virulently oppose U.S. diplomacy with Iran—because the more we talk with Iran’s leaders, the less likely we are to go to war with them."
Hm, yes. Just so. While I recognize and appreciate Israel's position in terms of considering Iran an existential threat (a prudent point of view, given the history and the rhetoric), I think we should all just be honest about the situation, at least with one another. Invading Iran would mean spending America's blood and treasure, and as a country, we need to make that decision based on what is best for the United States, not what is best for Israel. For the most part, every country makes decisions regarding the implementation of foreign policy based on their own self-interest - this is not a radical suggestion. While I want Israel and the United States to remain allies, that should not mean becoming Israel's beck-and-call-girl every time they snap their fingers. It's not seemly, and it's not in our best interests.

H/T Brother Eric
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A Texas Librarian and the Library Advisory Board voted to retain two LGBT children's books when bigots wanted them banned.  See, THIS is why choosing Library Board members carefully is important. Proud of my fellow Library Board members!
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Disabled veterans sign up to be photographed for a pin-up calendar by photographer Michael Stokes. Rowr.

H/T Brother Larry
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I've never been asked any of these questions during a job interview, but I understand it's far more common that I thought. 

Backing Up

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
I wrote a really long blog post for today. It touched on a variety of issues, including faith-based bigotry, cafeteria Christians, following my moral compass, and being intellectually honest about people I care about without being ungenerous.

And then I deleted it.

The reasons for that decision will remain unpublished, but I will say this: I am deliriously happy about SCOTUS's Obergefell v. Hodges decision. I don't think any reason for discrimination is a good reason. I'm making strides in accepting the people I care about, warts and all. And I still have a lot of internal work to do in regards to recognizing my unearned privilege and spending energy on this work rather than being self-righteous about others' sins.

This concludes my vague-blogging for the day.

Link Me Up, Scotty - MOOCs, Marriage and Gaslighting

Monday, June 29, 2015
Turns out that MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) aren't filling the need for which they're designed. Instead, they're filling a different need, one that will still have positive educational effects for students. Life long learning for the win!
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A fascinating article about Gaslighting and how to recognize if you're a victim. Having been victimized by this exact form of emotional abuse by someone I trusted, I can affirm that it is a form of mental abuse, and a particularly nasty one, at that.
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White people avoid taking responsibility for institutional racism. I especially like the phrase "white fragility." Like most white Americans, I have a long way to go in this area.
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A fabulous comic about how rape culture has skewed society's view of "consent."
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The Big Picture provides photos of celebrations of marriage equality on Friday. THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY EYE.
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My friend and shippie Jim Wright makes a pragmatic and sensible suggestion on legislation designed to reduce gun violence as a matter of culture in the U.S.  I spent too long in the Armed Forces not to support the 2nd Amendment, but I am TOTALLY DOWN with the level of accountability Jim proposes. Put your money where your mouth is, gun enthusiasts, or shut the hell up about gun control.
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Because what could be cooler than Vladamir Putin as every member of the Village People? Nothing. That's what.
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Brother Seth provides thoughtful commentary on the Obergefell v Hodges decision. Having friends with a wide variety of expertise makes me furiously happy.
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Video of the Day: Roxane Gay talks about being a "bad feminist" with humor and grace.