Thursday, June 9, 2011

Empty Smiles

A wrong committed is a wrong once done.

A wrong never corrected is a wrong twice done.

It is that time of year again.  We meet again for a retreat with our organization.  We pack up and drive there.  Our kids excited, although honestly, it is really mostly our team's kids there.  Our kids have grown together since they wore diapers and function as a group of cousins.  They are excited about the chance to spend a weekend playing together with no chores.

I go along again, growing more and more silent as we near the place.  Smiles and hugs await me.  Excited exclamations on how good it is to see us and have we lost weight and did you get a new hair cut.  Talk and laughter as if we were friends.

I get an impression of a woman with bleach dyed hair, dark tanned skin, a face lift, and heavy make up.  Is there anything real in there?  Or is it all show?

I don't believe them.  I don't believe their smiles.  I don't believe their concern.  I don't believe their lives.  I watch them from a distance.  Automatically smile and nod when people say things.  I find my hardest puzzles and sit in a chair and appear deep in thought.  (I like Suduku, but have recently found Sumuko which is much more challenging and keeps me busy.)  If people ask, I say I am attempting to ward off Alzheimer's by keeping my mind active.  It is easier than saying I don't want to engage in superficial conversation with you and try to ignore the pain.

I walk when given the chance.  I walk alone.  I sleep as much as possible.  Sleep is an analgesic, and my body thankfully responds to the pain by putting me instantly into a very deep sleep with comforting dreams.

I function.  I look fine.  I lead groups.  I listen.  But the irony of listening to people share how they got through a difficult thing by the support and listening and prayers and encouragement of each other... these same people who never called when I was hurting nor checked in to see if we were recovering.  Actually, not a word from any of them during the whole thing.  One man, who was not with them, called once.  They never did.   Not in the crisis of last year.  Not in the struggles of years ago.  Not even when I asked for help.
I don't believe their smiles and hugs.

At least four were there to witness the "debrief" session last year that ended in a violent verbal attack on us.  They saw.  They heard.  They did nothing.

I expected after a short time for things to cool and settle that this would be brought up.  Corrected.  This is wrong.  We don't do this, and we need to make it right.  It never was.  Nothing was ever done.

I walk in among them wounded and uncared for.  Hurting among people who cover their eyes so they will not have to see.

I grew up with this group.  I was raised with them.  I thought they were the best.  (I still reserve the possibility that in other countries, this group is good, but here, in this place, they are what they are.)  I was loyal to them.  This was my family.

And they did nothing when I was hurting.

I survived the retreat.  One more year, I survived.... without going crazy and banging my head repetitively against the wall.  That I count as a victory.

I'm thinking of not going next year.  I'm thinking of letting my kids and husband go, but there has to be something that I am needed at besides that.  I don't know that I have to keep enduring this.

I just don't do fake well.

I need some time to recover from the retreat.  Days to walk, to cry, to bang my head against the wall, to pull weeds from my garden and watch life growing.  Days to watch small children running and giggling in the warm summer days.  Days to organize my freezer and do my ironing.  Days to be silent and try to get the strength up again to go on.

I want to go yell at someone.  To scream that this is not right and it is doubly not right to leave it unrighted.

It is just pointless to yell when no one is listening.

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