Facades – we all have them, don’t we? We have the faces we show to the world, the brave faces, the smiling faces, the faces that say “it’s all okay, it’s all just fine”. But are these always our real faces, or are they illusions? Do we really know each other at all?
The song sung so beautifully by Joni Mitchell back – when? 80s? used clouds as its symbol, but I believe it was really about knowing one another. About the illusions we sometimes present to the world. About how sometimes we think we know someone, and then we find we don’t. Not really. And that’s okay. Sometimes illusions are good. Sometimes we don’t want to share everything there is about ourselves with the world. Sometimes we share only with very close friends, and maybe some things are never shared at all.
But sometimes we hide things that we should not. Recent news items, primarily concerning football players, have made me think about the horrid things people do to one another. Have made me wonder what makes someone think it’s okay to knock out someone we say we love, to drag them down a hall. But it also makes me wonder what makes the person who has been so badly treated accept that treatment and subsequently marry the person who abused (and probably continues to abuse) her. Why?
And then there’s the football player who abused his child – whipping that child with a stick, it is reported – leaving abrasions and major bruises. The case that created a maelstrom of discussion about spanking and its validity. But wait! I say – this was not “spanking”. This was beating. This was child abuse. There is a difference, in my mind. Sometimes a swat with an open hand gets the attention of the child, makes them really think about what they have done that caused this action from their parent. But whipping? Using a stick? No! Not spanking! That’s abuse.
And we keep quiet about being treated this way. We keep silent. Maintaining our facade, our illusion. So that no one really knows us at all. These actions are not tolerable, and should not be tolerated. They are dangerous. They are life-threatening. I have never been in this situation, and I do not understand why the victims keep silent – not really understand. I get that for many women it is financial security. It could be a fear of being able to support themselves and their children without the income of the abuser. It could be a misplaced passion or love for the abuser. It could be the abused has been brainwashed by the abuser, or even those who raised her as a child, to believe it is her fault. To believe if she changes, the situation will change. That she can make it all okay. I’ve been there – not with physical abuse, but with a man who was hell-bent on destroying anything good in his life, any relationship that might make him feel he was unworthy of having. It took me a very long time to learn that I could not change myself to make it okay. I could not make it okay. But I could leave, and I did. Finally. And I survived.
The answer? I have no idea! I do not know how you get to people in this situation. I do not know how you break a learned manner of dealing with frustration or anger that results in violence. I think our world has a problem – not just this country, but many countries. We resort to violence, we declare war, we shout, we strike. We do not communicate. We do not listen. We do not hear the cries for help, the pleas for understanding.
We look at leaves and clouds and people from both sides, from up and down, but it’s the illusions we see. We do not really know many people at all. It is a sad situation.