“Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative.” ~William S. Burroughs
Life is completely relative. Yeah, I have it tough, two severely disabled kids, zippo communication, epilepsy, evil school nurses, no spouse, blah, blah. You know. Others have it so much easier. Let’s see … Claire, an older mature normal kid, her disabled kid has some communication, she has a spouse to help, and is into coffee erotica and generic food porn. Elizabeth, two great boys, her disabled kid can walk and has some communication, husband with a mistress (her code word for his job), and bakes wonderful treats. Ken, his kid is actually reacting positively to him with words and actions, another normal son, a wife who, well, somehow loves him 😉 ! And of course Erika, with her loving husband, and since she has promised to supply me with all the names and emails of her friends back home to meet on my business trip to Eastern Europe, I’ll just say I read her blog for the pictures. And all the rest of you in blog land, and there are many. You all have it better than me.
I do not believe that. What I do believe is that it is all relative. We deal with the stuff we have, we each have our own hell … and our own heaven. My level, my limits, are different than yours. My dreams and my nightmares are different.
Now go see what Rachael is thinking.
I don’t think everything is relative at all. In fact, as I near the ripe old age of fifty, I think it would behoove EVERYONE to remember that there is always, always someone “worse off” and “better off” than they might be. I also think that by the time you’re forty years old, it’s your responsibility as a human being to not talk about the teething nightmares of your baby when you’re speaking to a mother of a child with severe disabilities. 🙂
Indeed. For example, I hit my low today when my son put his head through a window in a fit of rage. He walks, he laughs and says he loves me. He is also a hell of a lot of work.
Me being somewhat sluggish in the brain department in the AM I don’t fully understand what the relative thing means exactly, except when it pertains to cousins and stuff. I think it is fair to say that you don’t have to make the choice to live your life in comparison to others, good or bad, to exist with yourself emotionally.
It’s hard to ignore or push back, that much I know, and even as I say that I know that often I feel guilt over some of the things I discuss knowing that SD, Elizabeth, Claire, Erika (of Hummingbird and the Other Lion)…it could be argued all have kids who have it worse than mine, and yet I write an equal or greater share of bitching in the Blogoverse.
It seems that often I get a pass though(or do I?)…and I wonder why? Was it because I was beaten up as a kid, or is it because I can’t find a job, or is it because my house is falling down? Is it because my Mom got sick? Or because I have a bleeding butt?
Bennett is delayed, likely will be his whole life, but he isn’t nearly as bad off as all of your kids. But why is it OK for me to bitch? Where is the cut-off line if it is NOT relative? What if Bennett started to make some real improvements? Would I be cast out of our group? I’m not trying to cause an issue here in my BFF’s blog…I am simply trying to understand the reasons why two people I respect in HUGE ways do not consider it relative when, to me, it seems to me to be very clearly so.
Please clarify. If not here, then in your own spaces.
Maybe I’m in a morning fog, too, Ken. Elizabeth, doesn’t some being worse or better define a relative situation? Beyond semantics, my first thought was – Welcome to Group Therapy Online. Hoping that term does not bother anyone but just coming together and comparing provides a certain measure of (possibly) therapeutic effect (and which I’ve seen acknowledged by other parents in blogs). The sharing helps each blogger own their own (child’s) unique issues and at the same time feel related to those who have issues similar to their own.
SD, you have provided another absolutely astute post. Thank you.
And thank you for directing us to Rachael’s recent post.
Let me put it this way …
My hell to is to me as bad as your hell is to you. For instance, I do not think I could instantaneously switch places with Erika of Hummingbird (Phil’s not my type). Now, if I had the same situation since my child’s birth, sure, I would rise to the occasion, but her difficult periods would really try me. I believe she thinks the same about life here, with Pearlsky. There are times where you, Ken, are really pushed to your limits with your son. Why would your reaching that hell with Bennett be any different than my reaching our hell with Pearlsky or Erika reaching hers with the Bean? Just like we cannot compare the children to each other (a virtual tie in “cuteness,” btw) we cannot compare what brings us to our own wit’s end.
A good deal of “our” blogs are about our kids and the day to day ca-ca. But they are also about us, how we deal, and I think we take away advice, solace, camaraderie, and the occasional voyeurism and schadenfreude.
Yours is an important voice and I am sure your readership would stay even if (when) Bennett greatly improves. Hell, most of us have shrines to Jen … 🙂
SD: You put into words what I assumed most people would generally think (except you left out the part about me being insanely funny and good-looking). But I was confused by the part about it not being relative, and so I began to then question my own understanding of the term itself, therefore assuming that I do not really understand the term the way I think I should, etc.
You know me. When in doubt? BLAME SELF. Weeeeee!!!!!!
Oh and I failed to mention she has several very cute single cousins. For some reason, the ugly stick just missed her family when it got swung through this nation. I’ll have to send you pics. It’s nutty.
I typed my original comment off pretty quickly — what I’d add is that over the years of coping and dealing with my daughter’s disability and it’s effects — both redemptive and corrosive — on myself, my marriage, my family and my friends, I’ve sort of moved beyond the simplicity of comparing my “plight” to others’ and thinking more of the Buddhist sense that life is suffering and that there’s equanimity to accepting that and not judging either oneself or others. That being said, my own unique temperament demands that I “suffer” and I am often judgmental, impatient and demanding. These ARE constructs of my mind. I am reminded of childbirth and it’s great “pain” and “agony” — how some ride it in waves, observant, and others fight it with wild abandonment and still others numb it and ignore it. Is the pain of childbirth just a relative thing? I believe that above all, the response to suffering, a human condition, shhould be compassion, and that imperative is above our inclination to judge, compare and be irritated by others (as I often do and am!)
Thanks for the forum, Single Dad!
Ken, the funny thing about our particular trench, meaning the IS one, is when somebody gets out of the trench, they don’t really look back for fear of getting any on them, for whatever the reason. When they get out, they still have trenches to hit the deck in, but it’s a different trench. No less mud filled, no less flooded, no fewer shells, but it’s easy to get out of one trench and not look back at a different one.
You stayed in the trench to help out, even knowing full well you really belonged in another trench. I don’t get angry at escapees. I don’t get angry at people with normal kids. You don’t either. Everybody has their own personal hell, and everybody suffers to some extent.
It’s just rude to assume somebody is suffering more or less. They’re all trenches, and they all suck.
I’m not so good at quick quips either, and I might not be any better in the waning hours of the day than I was this morning, but here goes.
Great expansion on concepts, SD. Thanks for feigning misunderstanding, Ken. The relationship between assigning a relative position on a scale and judgment is important to note, Elizabeth. Very helpful explanation. On pain, I view the differences as a matter of subjectivity. Pain is entirely subjective from a clinician’s point of view and agreed, should be responded to with compassion, and by believing the person’s pain.
Also agreeing in gratitude to you, SD, for hosting this conversation.
I thought I was being semi-translucent. Sometimes that’s hard to convey especially since they make no emoticon for that. 😛
Well put. As James Thurber said, “The claw of the sea-puss gets us all in the end.” And of course, Bill Burroughs was a wise man with a phenomenal grasp of the human condition.
TY for adding TSIM ‘s blog to your links. She’s amazing and I love her writing.