Sunday, May 5, 2013

Our beautiful neighbors.

When you were scared and alone that time, I bet no one saved you. Maybe someone came later, someone kind who told you they would save you, build you a rocket ship and fly you to the moon. But then they left. And you were alone and scared again.

This lingers. These childhood feelings of isolation, abandonment and threat, they stick. They sink in, pool and stain. We stay scared. We keep feeling alone and helpless. Especially when we confront scary people today.

We're at the mall with a frenemy who bosses us around, feeling our dead abuser's hands tighten around our neck, and we snap at the slow cashier. We present before our grouchy boss while our mental loudspeaker crackles out the daily rollback on our worth, and our addiction itches. 

We're trying to grow up into big, strong people who can push back and detach from scary others without hurting us or them. But we aren't there yet. Today, our "voices of truth" are stuttered grunts or scream-cries blurted out in half-fragments followed by inarticulate heaves. We lash out in preemptive emotional nuke strikes or we run away, curl into hidden balls behind chairs, hoping some big white knight will save us. But no white knight trots in.

Except for Mr. Rogers.

What? Well, he is white after all. And he does have a castle. Just watch this video....

If only he were our parents. Sigh.

Mr Rogers made this video when America recovered from 9/11. This bespectacled angel of heaven wanted to soothe our nerves and help us believe we could still look forward with hope, rather than just look back in fear, after the worst national tragedy. His message matters. Still. Today, for everyone.

Especially for we've who've suffered the worst personal tragedies.

This message matters because, first, it reminds us there are Mr. Rogers in the world. Not everyone is that grandmother who locked us in the back room for crying after being hit, nor that guy who punched us in the gut, or did worse, in the shadows of the high school bleachers.

There are plaid-tie-wearing, fake-piano-playing, walking founts of adorably safe-huggable love everywhere. Sometimes even in the people we fear.

Second, it reminds us that all these beatific Fred McFeelys (I heart you Mr. Rogers, I heart you so hard), they believe in us. They think we're good. They're proud of us, even when it seems to us that all our attempted bravery, maturity and grace end up as pretty much awkward failblog trampoline jumps into the shrubbery. They support us when we can't.

And last it matters because he's talking right to you, the little kid shrouded in a fumbly, shrieking adult body,  petrified beyond-all-get-out of the harm-sharks about to bite. And scared even more of your own helpless capacity to fail. He's speaking truth.

The past's tragedies don't define you. You have grown up (at least partly). You will "do all you can" to protect your kids (especially, ahemhem, you). You'll learn to voice truth with graceful health. And you are no longer alone.

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