There are times upon hearing bad news, I think: Good, as in, Good, I am glad for your misfortune. Am I embarrassed by my malicious meanderings? Yes, of course, and I truly wish they would disappear into left-sock heaven since I don’t enjoy the prescription for being naughty nor like being an estuary of ill feelings.
What I presume is causing my visceral reaction is “Hurt people, hurt people,” as a friend of mine likes to say. A Bill Clinton clone with his, “I feel your pain,” followed by an I empathize may be all it takes for a cure, and I, in turn, would be happy to return the gift.
Not quite as bad are my silly imaginings. Sometimes I wonder what it felt like to have been a slave in the eighteen hundreds, considered less than human. More recently, a picture of a five-year old girl from Afghanistan, her hands cracked and filthy, kneeling before a fire in an attempt to keep from freezing to death is on my mind. Conversely, I’d like to know—briefly, that is–what it was like to have been the “slave master” or perhaps Marie Antoinette, before she lost her head, and to relish in the glow of power and unlimited material wealth. Do the latter ugly curiosities make me evil? I wonder.
My sister, who has never been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, has said that if given a choice, she would have preferred to have never been born. This is due to our violent childhood. It’s fortunate that I have someone who can affirm that, “Yes,” things were as bad as I remember. Maybe growing up in that environment plays a part in my ominous thought propensities, but I believe it’s more likely due to my present grief, my inability to accept my son’s mental illness as I’ve written about many times. If only others could understand the loss, I say to myself, if only they could momentarily experience the rip in my heart then maybe I wouldn’t feel like a wretched human blot with a wagonload of disgraceful fancies.