Anyway. I'm in one of those phases of work right now where there are multiple important time-sensitive things happening all at the same time. Consequently, I spend most of my work day in Crisis Mode just trying to juggle all the big balls and not be crushed under the weight of them as they fall down on my head.
Naturally, since I really need my technology tools to work for me at the top of their game, all day long I look at little blue spinning wheels of death and "Not Responding" messages. Gaaah!
During one moment of frustration, I did something I do a lot to help myself from picking up my hard drive and doing my damndest to throw it out the window: I made the enormous mistake of checking the news.
I then compounded that mistake by about a billion by clicking on a link about the Victoria Marten murder. If you don't know the case and you are really sensitive to child abuse situations, I encourage you to just offer up some prayers for Victoria and leave it at that.
I just...I can't stop agonizing about it. Right after my daughter was born there was a really bad case locally that was in the news for awhile. I'll just say that a terrible child abuse story + post-partum hormones made for many moments of abject depression on my part. Here I was in the first flush of motherhood experiencing those "I will kill ANYONE who harms a hair on this child's head" emotions for the first time and I just couldn't comprehend how it was even possible for a person to go from those intense protective feelings to a place where the notion of harming your own kid could even enter the realm of reality. Clearly, it's possible to harm your own child on purpose since it happens so damned often, but I couldn't then (and still can't now, really) grasp how that journey happens. All I can surmise is that those connected, protective feelings never arrive in the first place.
So that case that happened all those years ago has stuck with me all these years. (That little girl would be about 25 now, had she survived, and likely entering a phase of life where she'd either gone through years of counseling to find any self-worth and was just now on the verge of turning a corner to a fulfilling life, or she'd long since had given up any hope or thought of trying to live an average sort of life and was addicted to at least one substance to help her cope with it all. Life trajectories really seem to narrow down to a small handful of options for children who have suffered so severely.) Anyway. I've known that, obviously, there will continue to be awful people and therefore other kids are suffering every single day from similar (or worse) situations. But I've learned that I'm one of those people who takes on all of the weight of all of the horrible things I hear about and can't figure out how to get rid of a single ounce of it. Therefore, the best bet for my sanity is to try to avoid hearing it in the first place. I really admire those people who can be effective in life's worst situations and find a way to release the valve and let go of some of the terrible, gut-wrenching things they've seen. I'm not one of them. Sometimes things sneak in; sometimes my horrible curiosity about awful things brings them on board. Generally, though, I try to learn just enough to be of some use in the event I encounter such badness in person, but not so much as to make me have to take myself out of the office for 30 minutes to cry, then walk around for another 60 minutes to try to stop thinking about it, and then spend another 30 minutes to try to write away some of the bad feeling (like is happening today).
I'm not quite sure yet if this case is going to be as profoundly disturbing to me personally in the way that the earlier one was, but I do know I won't be sleeping tonight.
As a related thought to all of this, I've been thinking for awhile that there is something like an epidemic in relation to the vast numbers of men who are sexually attracted to children. It seems to be a problem that has exploded exponentially as the internet became a true global phenomenon. (I won't go into my thoughts and assumptions about why that's happened as I'm sure there's actual science out there that could reveal the why with concrete facts). My point is that it seems like there is a male sexual impulse towards pedophilia that is engrained in a far bigger percentage of the population than I realized. As someone who knows this brand of awful exists, but has to avoid reality as much as possible just to be able to function, I'm wondering how much society has, and is willing to, examine this. It's hard to think about, I know. It's hard to be rational about, I know. But we have to, no question. What is happening or can happen to effectively address the males who find children sexually attractive? Though a punitive approach is certainly satisfying to think about, I don't think it will help solve the problem. But what will?
It seems like this is the kind of thing where an educated and engaged society can make a difference, e.g. how to recognize signs of abuse or abusers, what to do if you have suspicions, how to be sure something is being done once you report it, how our tax rates do or don't affect the chronically not-enough-money-for-more-staff protective services departments, how can males who recognize the impulse in themselves get non-judgmental help so as to never act on them, etc. Sadly, I can't think of a single person I've talked to who has had either suspicions or proof of abuse of some kind who felt like their concerns were adequately addressed by law enforcement. It's heartbreaking to think about: literally EVERYONE I know who has attempted to do something for a child has been made to work damn hard to be heard if they weren't rebuffed altogether. When multiplied by all of the people who have tried and all of the other people who don't keep pushing because they have to work so damned hard, it becomes a bit less amazing to realize why the sheer number of abused kids is staggering while even the full reality of the numbers is unknown.
Well. I can't think of a single positive or uplifting thing to end this post, so I'm just going to stop here. It helped me a teeny-tiny bit to blather. I'm still crying for Victoria Marten and the utter torment she suffered, but at least now I might be able to try to care a little about someone's business question. Someone I work with used to have a life or death kind of job and his perspective on the business world helps me sometimes when I'm super stressed and overloaded with work. His attitude is that he had the life or death job and 1) it puts a lot of things in perspective when you've had that experience and 2) it makes it easier to not allow your stress emotions to fully engage for phases like I'm experiencing now when you realize what we do isn't life or death. So maybe I do have one small positive thing I can take from clicking that fateful link today: yes, work is a real challenge right now, but this kind of challenge is infinitely preferable to me than the life or death kinds so I'll resolve to be thankful that my typical day at work doesn't involve crying for 30 minutes, walking for 60 more, and writing for another 30 (then starting to cry all over again).