Dear Planet: Get Your Shit Together

Everybody on this planet needs to get their shit together and stop acting like immoral assholes and stop murdering other people.

That’s a real sentence and it’s the most ridiculous sentence that no one should ever write but it’s 100% true.

I do my very best to not write about topical, controversial topics, although they have a giant affect on me and I always have lots to say. Just because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean you should. I’m not always right.

But, lately.

Lately, I’ve been (stupidly) reading the Josh Duggar news and reading all the asinine comments of people supporting a cheating, hypocritical, child-molesting guy who pranced around condemning gay people and preaching his righteousness “in the name of the Lord.” And it’s kept me pretty pissed off. I don’t know why I keep reading about it, but I do. I never really thought to write about it because, what’s the point? Blind religious fanatics are just that – blind.

But then, today.

Today on the way to work I witnessed a driver attempt to get out of his truck while yelling at another driver because of road rage. He was in a full fit of anger, flailing his arms about – a total loss of control. Over traffic. Just traffic. I could hear him screaming from two cars back. Luckily, the other driver drove away.

The fiance and I see this type of driving on a daily basis. We usually turn to each other and say, “Well, there goes the most important person in the world.”

Then, I read this news article.

I swear I felt completely wrecked and completely infuriated all at once.

To simplify the story, a guy got his feelings hurt by his co-workers so he just stepped on outside while they were reporting and shot them. Dead. Killed them both. When confronted by police, as cowards do, he attempted to kill himself, but he failed.

I had so many things rolling around in my head about the disturbing and sad reality of the world we live in that it just started leaking out into this blog post.

Let me say some things that I’ve wanted to say lately. Just in case you were wondering. Let me clear it up.

  • You are not the most important person on the planet.
  • You are not better than anybody.
  • The universe doesn’t care if your feelings are hurt. Learn to deal with it or check yourself into a mental facility. Period.
  • It is not okay to kill someone because they follow a different religion, are of a different race, or are just different.
  • If you hold a position of authority, you still aren’t better than anyone else and the laws still apply to you.
  • Your religion is not the religion that everyone should follow.
  • Your religion has no place in my government.
  • Nobody owes you anything. You deserve nothing.

I don’t give two fucks if you are a woman or a man, or if you are white, black, gay, straight, mixed, Christian, Muslim, confused, or any other arbitrary label that people are murdering other people over – stop this nonsense.

I don’t know who raised these self-righteous men and women parading around on the planet today, but shame on you. And shame on everyone who thinks their way is the only way, and who thinks they can act in whatever manner they desire because someone disagreed with them, or because someone is black, or because someone is a woman, or because someone said something mean to them.

Before you dismiss everything I said, because it sounds like I’m telling you that your views aren’t the most important, but mine are, I’ll clear that up for you, too.

Once upon a time, I was a close-minded 18 year old who knew everything about the world. I went to college. Everything changed. Other people had different opinions and were religious and had different backgrounds and – here’s the thing – I didn’t point a gun at them or drop a bomb on them because we differed in thought.

I changed, and I constantly change, and I keep learning and reading and accepting other people. Again, I’m not perfect.

But I most certainly am disgusted at the news that’s popping up on a daily basis. If ever I have kids, I will teach them all the points listed above.

Everyone else, though: Get your shit together.

MKB

So, Let’s Talk (Some More) About Depression

Robin Williams would have turned 64 today.

Perhaps our society tends to glamorize the deaths of celebrities, but it’s because we feel like we somehow know them, right?

I still recall the class I was in when the sister sent me a text message that Heath Ledger had overdosed. I remember feeling sick over it and thinking, why? Why, why, why? So unnecessary. So sad. Paul Walker’s car accident. Brittany Murphy’s pneumonia. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose. The list is long, and it’s terrible, and it’s sad.

Robin William’s suicide hit me a lot harder. It seems silly to say. Of course, I didn’t know Robin Williams and I wasn’t personally affected in my day to day life after his passing. But it hit me in the gut.

Because one thing our society does not glamorize is anxiety. And another thing is depression.

People, in my experience, do not want to discuss anxiety and depression or seek help if they are suffering because there is a terrible stigma attached to all mental illnesses in this country.

I, personally, battle depression and anxiety every single day of my life. I have been to counseling and I have been on medication before and I have triggers and I have good days and bad days. I have always been this way. Always.

I wish it wasn’t that way for me, or anyone. But that’s the hand I was dealt and thankfully I have a support system that acknowledges and respects that I suffer from depression and anxiety.

Everyone knows that that must check in with me, constantly, while traveling. Because what if the car or plane crashes and they all die?

Everyone knows that I overreact to any type of medical issue. Because what if it’s serious?

Everyone knows that I hate ordering food for myself. Because what if I say something stupid?

These are small, little, tiny examples – basically small nothings –  in my tornado of depression and anxiety, but these are real small nothings that affect me every day.

(In my opinion, this article does the best job of explaining depression. I have touched on it a little bit here.)

In the spirit of honesty, I must admit that a while ago I started a post that detailed my every anxiety-driven thought and action, but I didn’t finish the post. Because I thought: it’s not like 1 million people read this blog, but can I deal with everyone that does knowing that’s what I think every day?

The answer was no, and that answer is a problem.

Robin William’s suicide was such a shock to his fans, to the people who grew up with him, because did anyone really know he was that depressed?

Guys, if you’ve got someone with depression and/or anxiety (or any other mental illness) in your circle, talk about it openly and honestly and check-in with them and straightforwardly ask about their mental illness. Are you feeling depressed today? How’s your anxiety? How was yesterday? Does any part of our weekend plans make you anxious? These are all totally acceptable questions.

And keep this in mind:

No one with a mental illness actually wants to suffer from a mental illness in the same way that no one with a stomach virus wants to have a stomach virus. The difference is that when you have a stomach virus, people will ask how you are feeling and they will excuse you from their, let’s say, dinner party, because you’re sick. They will ask where you got the virus, how long you’ve had the virus, what your symptoms are, and if you’re taking any medication. They will tell you when you should seek care from a doctor and bring you soup and crackers and support you until you feel better. They won’t become angry if you’re still throwing up and they won’t tell you to just think about something else to stop the vomiting.

When you suffer from anxiety and depression, in my experience, people become uncomfortable around you and they get shifty and don’t call and check on you and don’t make sure that you’re seeing a doctor and that you’re safe and they don’t understand that you’re too anxious to go to the bar with them.  They get frustrated that you can’t just get over it and they don’t acknowledge your symptoms and they won’t bring you soup and crackers. When you’re depressed, you feel alone. When people find out you’re depressed, some of them will want to just leave you alone. And that’s not okay.

Break the stigma and talk about depression and anxiety and any other mental illness you can think of. Talk about it openly and if people are uncomfortable, talk about it so much that you force them to be comfortable. It may save someone’s life. It may save your life.

I am no expert on mental illness, or the correct way to handle someone else’s mental illness (everyone’s struggle is different), and I’m still figuring out how to handle my own issues.

But Robin Williams should have turned 64 today. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s never forget.

MKB

post image from here.

Here’s to You, Shitty Dads

I’ve sent three “Happy Father’s Day!” text messages so far today, but none of them were to my dad.

This isn’t some sob story.

He chose to be uninvolved in my life.

My dad didn’t perish tragically when I was young. There’s no underlying, deep-seeded reason why my dad is not around. It’s simple, really.

No matter which version of the story (if any) you’ve heard, I lived it, and I can say this with utmost certainty and finality: My dad chose to take off.

So, thanks dad.

Thanks to you I have to remind myself that other people’s dads actually stick around for their kids and are good people. It’s strange. I thought most of the dads just decided to leave. They didn’t though.

When I first went to the fiance’s house, many years ago, I told him after the fact that I wasn’t sure how to communicate with his dad. The fiance’s dad said supportive and genuine and helpful things to me and I just stood there like an idiot. The fiance told me to just talk to his dad like normal. I had to explain – I didn’t know how to normally talk to a dad.

The fiance’s parents and my family recently had dinner together for the first time, and I was talking to the sister about what the fiance’s parents are like. I love the fiance’s parents. I had nothing negative to say, nothing to prep her for, except that I did say this: You will feel uncomfortable because the fiance’s dad will be there and the fiance’s dad will be really kind and you won’t know how to react.

We didn’t really discuss it any further. The sister knew what I meant.

Thanks, dad. Without you, I would never have to learn how to let go of incorrect assumptions about people. All dads are not created equal. Other dads deserve a chance.

Thanks, dad. Without you, I wouldn’t know just how strong women can be. I always knew growing up that we had something special in our mother – she is one-of-a-kind. She gives and loves and forgives and accepts and supports and she was always that way. But without you, I wouldn’t have known that women can be even stronger. If ever I am half as strong as my own mother, I will count myself incredibly fortunate.

Thanks, dad. Without you, I wouldn’t know how to check my own oil and transmission fluid and cut the grass and what a Phillips head screwdriver is. You didn’t teach me these things – the mom did, and the brother did, and the fiance did, and some things I learned on my own time, but without you I might have thought it acceptable to rely on someone else to help me.

Thanks, dad. Without you, I wouldn’t know that some people are just mean people and there’s nothing you can do about it. Knowing your dad makes jokes about your weight and intelligence and everything about you with his friends isn’t super fun. You don’t get warm and fuzzies from it, but you do overcome it, and you learn that most people have their opinions and most people’s opinions don’t matter.

Thanks, dad. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to end some of my relationships as quickly as I did, because I knew exactly what I would and would not stand for in a relationship. Even though I do believe your worst came out much later in your marriage, I was always on high-alert for any sign that someone might be condescending, or judgemental, or hypocritical, or emotionally abusive. If ever I saw the slightest indication of this, I cut them loose.

So here’s to you, shitty dads everywhere. Without you, none of us would be as strong as we are and as confident as we are. Having your dad choose to leave you and your family and your life behind and start new with someone else is tough. You almost feel like you won’t overcome it, but you do, and you’re stronger for it.

Wonderful dads are, I’m sure, much better than shitty dads. I wouldn’t know this from personal experience, but wonderful dads probably teach their kids all these things in the normal way. Those of us with shitty dads, though, we have a certain bond, and a certain hardness to us, and what else can we do but be grateful for it?

It’s Father’s Day today. If you know of any great dads, let them know they are great dads. If you suffer from the Shitty Dad Syndrome, then find the positive in all the negative, brush it off, and revel in all you’ve done despite him.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who’ve shown me that some dads do their best for their kids. Happy Father’s Day to the shitty dads, too. We’ve done amazing without you.

MKB

What the Josh Duggar Scandal Should Teach You

I try to stop myself from writing opinionated blog posts, because I am not an expert on any one subject (except Harry Potter) but I have found myself researching and reading and becoming increasingly more angry at the Josh Duggar molestation issues in the media.

For those of you that don’t know, although I would guess everyone does, Josh Duggar, of 19 Kids and Counting on TLC (now removed from syndication) was recently outed as having molested multiple girls as a teenager, some of those girls being his siblings.

Josh’s father, Jim Bob, became aware of Josh’s behavior and, after speaking with church elders, sent Josh to a “rehabilitation program” which was, in fact, not a legitimate rehabilitation program.

Are you wondering about the victims? As of now, there is no record of any of the victims receiving any treatment. Possibly because the teachings of the Duggar religion places the blame on the victims.

There are already numerous posts and articles discussing this and there’s really no need for me to type 5 pages about how disturbing this whole situation is (although — I could. I really could type 5 pages).

Let me just make some points here. Here’s what you need to take from this scandal.

1. Your Kids Aren’t Safe

I’m not being dramatic. Your kids are not safe in this world, from anyone. I worked for a year as an investigator at the Department of Social Services, and, let me tell you, I still have nightmares. I still feel sick and worried when I think about the things that I saw and the way kids were treated by parents, teachers, doctors, siblings… the list goes on.

You don’t need to be the most paranoid and anxious person on the planet, but you need to understand that you better be damn sure you trust whoever is around your kids.

You need to address safety with your kids. You must. You must teach them good touch vs. bad touch and stranger danger and to follow their instincts when something doesn’t feel right. Most importantly, you must make sure they are comfortable coming to you if something happens to them. And you must make sure you are available for them to talk to.

Do not don your rose-colored glasses and skip around like the world is a nice place. It’s not. It doesn’t matter if the conversations make you uncomfortable and your kids say, “I know, I know”, you keep telling them the right thing to do if they are in danger or if someone is hurting them.

Now, I don’t think you should traumatize your children. I understand the sanctity of a child’s innocence, and I firmly believe they should stay as innocent as possible as long as possible. But you must find a way to make sure they remain safe.

If this isn’t your TOP priority, then I question why you had kids.

2. Be Wary of Authority Figures

Josh’s parents should have alerted the proper authorities as soon as they learned what was happening to these girls. I’m sorry that it’s their son. I am truly sorry. I’ve had this talk with parents, where they scream and yell and tell you their child would NEVER do what has been proven they’ve done.

The church elders should have alerted the proper authorities. I’m sorry it was a member of their faith. I’m sorry they may be embarrased or ashamed or dodging bad publicity. Nothing trumps the safety of children.

The police officer who was eventually told should have done his job. He is now in jail for child pornography charges, but he should have done his job. A “stern talking to” is not acceptable. A slap on the wrist is not acceptable.

The cop was a mandated reporter. A report should have been filed IMMEDIATELY with social services.

With all the hullabaloo in the news these days about the serious, serious danger of the behavior of some bad-seed cops, I’m afraid people are likely to shrug off a little lapse in mandated reporting.

What if it was your daughter?

Be wary of authority figures. They are human, and some of them are bad, bad people, and they do NOT always do what is required of them.

3. Don’t Follow a Church / Religion / Book Blindly

Corrupt people exist in all walks of life. Pedophiles, spouse-abusers, kid-abusers, thieves, and morally corrupt folk walk past you on the street and you don’t even know it.

Please, please, please do not follow any one leader or religion or church to the point of no return. Everyone sitting next to you on Sunday isn’t perfect. Your preacher isn’t perfect.

Those church elders deserve to be punished for withholding information about child molestation. Look how many kids were in that house with Josh Duggar. Look how many kids were at risk of being victimized and molested by Josh Duggar.

Do not block out common sense and safety and your intuition just because you adhere to a certain religion.

If you need to believe in something, go ahead. But be aware that your religion, church, preacher, deacon, or whomever does not excuse any bad behavior of yours.

While we’re at it, you also cannot “grow closer to God” and have only His forgiveness for illegal actions. You should never be under the impression that your religion places you above the law.

4. NEVER Blame the Victim. EVER.

Most of y’all will never look a sexual assault victim in the face and ask them to recount their story. Be grateful for that.

Let me make one thing really, really clear here.

It is NEVER the victim’s fault. It is NEVER the child’s fault.

I don’t care if you have 28973 Bible verses or 20983 quotes from your preacher or 12987423 answered prayers from God himself telling you it’s the victim’s fault. It’s not.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who would ignore or dismiss this very basic concept should not be allowed to raise children or hold any position of authority. Ever.

——-

In my opinion, in a fair and safe world, no children should be left in that home with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. They displayed zero protective capacities in terms of their youngest and most vulnerable children. I can only rely on my investigative experiences, but as a caseworker there is a 0% chance that I would advocate that parents with no protective capacities, who allowed a molester to live in their home, be able to maintain custody of their children. I’m not speaking for any department specifically, just for myself and what I would feel was right to do as a former caseworker.

If you’re wondering why I feel the right to make such strong statements, and to proclaim them as fact and as sound advice, the answer is this: I’m using common sense. You don’t have to agree with everyone and everything all the time. But when it comes to the safety of children, the dangers of the world we live in, and the disturbing trend of blindly following any religion, I feel like I’m on point.

I’m not advocating for everyone to panic and walk around in a bullet-proof vest and never let their kids go outside. I’m saying that, if you take anything from this messed up situation, let it be that you can do better for your kids than the Duggars did for theirs.

I don’t know what else, if anything, will come from this Josh Duggar scandal. I would guess that TLC will pull the show. I hope they do. I know that the statute of limitations has run out for any type of legal action against Josh Duggar. That is sickening, but unfortunately true.

I can say that I hope that people learn from this scandal. I hope that the girls find their way out and find their own voice and find a way to receive treatment and counseling. And I hope that Josh and his parents lay awake at night burdened by the guilt of their actions.

MKB