Sunday, March 5, 2017

Thinking Aloud...


Seamus Heaney found this word a suitable opener for his (incredible) translation of the epic Beowulf. If Seamus Heaney (SEAMUS HEANEY, GUYS!) found it a suitable opening, well then!

In his words:

"Conventional renderings of hwaet, the first word of the poem, tend towards the archaic literary, with 'lo' and 'hark' and 'behold' and 'attend' and—more colloquially—'listen' being some of the solutions offered previously. But in Hiberno-English Scullionspeak, the particle 'so' came naturally to the rescue, because in that idiom 'so' operates as an expression which obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention. So, 'so' it was..."

I don’t pretend my musings are as important or impressive as Beowulf. Rather, I loved the idea of such a small word "obliterat[ing] all previous discourse and narrative" and "calling for immediate attention." That’s where my head is today. I want to articulate some thoughts that’ve been slithering around in my brain for some months now. Many of those thoughts call for a reconsideration/reframing of my previously-held beliefs (huzzah for paradigm shifts!). Therefore, "so" it is.


Recently, I've been reading a lot. Here's a sample of what's been on my bedside table over the past months (most of these I've read; three I'm in the process of reading; one is next on my list):

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America 
Colin Woodard

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business 
Neil Postman 

Brave New World 
Aldous Huxley 

Breakfast of Champions 
Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle 
Kurt Vonnegut

Daring Greatly 
Brené Brown

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation 
Joseph J. Ellis

Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think 
George Lakoff 

Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map 
Thomas Wirthlin McConkie

Patrick Q. Mason

The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations 
Jonathan Sacks 

The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin 
Charlotte Cho

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion 
Jonathan Haidt

Things Fall Apart
            Chinua Achebe

Noticing anything?

YES! I now have soft, dewy, radiant skin. (Seriously, though, y’all should try the 10 step Korean skin care rituals. My skin is the best it’s ever been! I make people feel my face, so watch out.)

In addition to my improved complexion, I’ve been chewing on some big ideas that frame public discourse. I’ve had a lot of questions about WHY we are the way that we are in our public spaces right now (specifically those spaces that house our political ideologies and moral convictions) and what I can do differently to effect some change in the current reality of engagement.

See, I believe in the redeemability of the human condition. I subscribe to a world view that understands people as inherently good yet deeply flawed, and ultimately worthy of redemption. I believe that people do hurtful, even hateful things out of a place of fear or insecurity (at least initially). MOST human beings don't go around trying to be assess just for the sake of being contrary. Are there some people like that? Sure. (Are they still redeemable? Yes. But, those folks are a special set that I'm not going to address in my musings today.) I'm looking at the run-of-the-mill, everyday sort of folk who are just doing the best that they can with what they have. I'm one of those people, and therein lay my interest.

After that preamble, let's settle in to the meat of my thoughts, shall we? 

What are they again?

Yes, the human condition and public discourse. 

More and more, I am struck by the vital role of civil discourse in preserving society (specifically, OUR society). 

First things first, what is civil discourse? Well, according to Wikipedia (which actually has a wonderfully robust definition, y'all):

Civil discourse is engagement in discourse intended to enhance understanding.”

Isn’t that lovely? Civil discourse has as its aim understanding. One who engages in it does so with the intent of listening to understanding rather listening to respond. When I approach conversations with the desire to get behind others' views (a desire born of a humility devoid of smug certainty), I find those conversations to be fruitful and humanizing. I always come away with a deeper appreciation of the individual in front of me and the group(s) that person may represent. I hope my partners come away just as enriched. (Though, I can't control that, NOR SHOULD I TRY. Once that becomes my sole focus, I'm back in the realm of smug certainty and nothing comes of the intercourse save for further entrenchment.)

This leads me to ideas I've bumped into about first principles. As an educator, I've learned the importance of defining my intended outcomes for my lessons (in eduspeak: objectives). When I have a clear idea of what I want my students to be able to do, know, or love by the end of a lesson, I'm better prepared to make decisions about how to get them there than I would otherwise be. Because education is, at heart, conversation between students and teachers, I can't pretend to control all the outcomes. That's just silly. I'm not that powerful. Rather, I do what I can to intentionally set the conditions which will increase the probability that certain outcomes will result. With an idea of where I want to go with my students, I can frame our activities, my questions, and my responses to students in a way that will point us toward my intentions. It's all about framing intentions.

The same intention-framing comes into play as I engage in public discourse (especially on divisive topics). If my aim in engaging others is to persuade, I make certain decisions along the course of the conversation. If my aim in engaging others is to understand and humanize, well, I make different decisions along the course of the conversation. Additionally, I'm finding it more and more important for me to articulate my own beliefs about and desires for the communities of which I'm a part. That's the purpose of taking to my keyboard today—to give shape and form to my beliefs and, eventually my desires, so that I may better engage with the world.

What do I believe?

1.      Human beings are worthy of redemption.
2.      The worth of a human soul is not contingent on circumstance or choice.
3.      The vast majority of people want good things for the whole of their communities.
4.      Human beings are complex and function both as individuals and members of groups.
5.      Engaging the individual as an individual (rather than a representative of a group) is the best way to lead out in productive conversations.
6.      Vulnerable engagement on my part creates safe spaces for connection.
7.      Human endeavors are fraught with unintended consequences, and therefore, should be treated as difficulties to navigate rather than problems to be solved.
8.      Human flourishing is the ultimate good and with an eye toward that, other goods fall into place.
9.      Deep truths about what it is to be human are nuanced, complex, and sometimes seem at odds with one another. Morality, therefore, is a nuanced and complex issue. (The principle of complementarity in physics may be a good analogy.) 
10. We need each other. Those around me have important roles to play in the conversations taking place. So do I.

What do I desire?

Well, lots of things. But, for now, I’m going to watch a movie with the best man I know.  Besides, this post is getting a little long.

More to come…

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Gratia...

Times, they are a changin'.

It's been awhile.

I've wanted to write.

The blank page seems to beg for profundity that I have little energy to provide.

So, today is a note of gratitude.

May I never take for granted that I am loved.

Being loved is a gift.

From the oldest bestie I watched run away from home in first grade (little did we know where we'd end up. Seriously, how'd we get here!?)...

To the bosom bestie I met at age 14 (oh, how our lives have paralleled one another in strange, strange ways and oh, what a comfort that has been to me)...

To the roommie besties who helped me Live it UP! that one summer (I wish I still had the t-shirt--at least I remember the inside jokes)...

To the post-college besties who shaped my world views (it's amazing how the themes we explored almost ten years ago are still pertinent)...

To the Phoenix besties who so quickly became my pillars (I just had a feeling we'd be friends, y'all)...

To the newest bestie who so easily fitted into my life and will so profoundly change its course (you're sure about this, aren't you?)...

Being loved is the ultimate gift.

May I never take for granted that I have always been loved.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Better Part...

A particular scripture passage has been on my heart lately. Tonight I went to an event sponsored by a local GSA which prompted me to actually start writing.

Perhaps a brief look at the scripture itself is worthwhile. Let's journey back to Mary and Martha's home when Jesus of Nazareth visited. I'm in Luke 10, you should go there, too. I'll make it easy.

Ponder on that passage for a moment--Martha was about her business. And it was a very important business, too. Semitic tradition required ultimate hospitality (there are all sorts of beautiful stories about Abraham one can find which illustrate this point) and Martha was fulfilling that duty. Jesus, as I see it, very lovingly acknowledged her and, also very lovingly, showed her that, at this one specific moment, there was a different good to choose. That second good was the part which "would not be taken away."

Life is full of "good parts" which present us with choices. Maybe your experiences have been different, but mine have shown that those "good parts" are never "perfect parts" or "perfectly-clear parts." In fact, my experience has been that I'm often faced with choosing between two things that are messy (oh, how I love that word!). My job is to determine which part is the "good" or, perhaps, "better" one. Circumstance often influences the outcome of that choice.

What are those parts that will not be taken away? I believe they all come down to one principle--Charity. Charity is the "pure love of Christ." I see that as a three-fold love: the love we receive from Christ, the love we have for Christ, and the love we express that is like that of Christ. I believe my life's purpose is to carve and stretch  my heart to be a large and ready receptacle for such love. This requires conscious actions on my part. 

I also firmly believe that I am here to experientially learn what that good (or, better) part is. This means I will be faced with some tough, tough choices which will do more than test my obedience; they will allow me to determine what I stand for. There's a difference. We can talk nuances sometime if you're interested...

One of those nuances can be found in Mormons' view of the Judeo-Christian creation myth. We maintain that Eve made a conscious choice and that Adam, when faced with keeping all God's commandments, realized such was impossible--at least in the context within which he found himself. In order to follow the command to "multiply and replenish the earth," Adam had to choose to partake of the forbidden fruit. Who forbade such an act? The very God who issued the command for man and woman to cleave to one another. Adam and Eve determined for themselves which was the "good part." The Book of Mormon affirms "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." Messiness was introduced in the opening act.

All of us have been or will be presented with such heart-wrenching, faith-shaking choices in our lives. For some, it is the choice between acceptance of a loved one and strict adherence to deeply-held religious beliefs. For others, it is the choice between acceptance of self and full participation in their larger community. In all of these choices, sacrifice is an integral part. We have the privilege and challenge of determining which sacrifices to make. We get to choose the "good part" which will not be taken away. 

We get to work with God in forming our souls for eternity...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Power Plays...

"Rape is a criminal act whatever the circumstance.  A woman riding the subway nude may be guilty of indecency, but she may not be raped.  If she invites or even sells sex at 10:00 and refuses it at 10:45, the partner who disregards her refusal and forces sex is guilty of rape." ~ Toni Morrison

Jane Doe of Steubenville has been on my mind today.  I ran into her via a blog I read on a weekly basis and so I decided to do a little digging to understand the situation a little more.  I was confronted with an unarticulated discomfort with our rape culture. I am taking this opportunity to give form and space to that discomfort.

Rape is not about sex.  It is about power.  Rapists are those who use a variety of means to take power from others.  Sex is the means to an end, not an end in and of itself.

Conditions in our society breed rape culture. Survivors of rape are often blamed (especially women) because of clothing, flirting, alcohol--the list goes on.  We tacitly and, sometimes, even vocally place the burden of guilt on the wrong entity.  Rape is the fault of the rapist.  Period.

Women and men are socialized to view the female body as worthy of exploitation, degradation, and even enslavement.  Religious teachings, at times, contribute to this problem.  Do not misunderstand me.  I am a religious person.  I do not blame religion for failings in human nature.  But I do believe the culture that sneaks into doctrinal teachings perpetuate the second-class status of women--especially in matters of sexuality.  In the profane media, women are objectified.  In the sacred halls of worship, women are charged as the sole protectors and mediators of virtue.  It is up to the woman to dress modestly so as not to arouse the men around her.  It's up to the woman to keep her head and call the shots on how far expressions of physical affection go.  Both these statements were made to adolescent me by men AND women in church settings.  Both these statements downplay the power men have over themselves.  Men can have self-control, you know.  By placing the onus solely on the shoulders of the female, we discount and even dishonor half the population of the world.  Men are no more slaves to their sex drives than women are. Sex is a powerful driving force in human behavior.  That's a given.  Human reason and empathy can be even more powerful when fostered and nurtured.

Let me illustrate...

I work in a very conservative environment.  We, collectively, hold ourselves to the pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness (those exact words are found on the crest of every school in the network).  One day, not too long ago, a woman came to a faculty meeting to give updated information about some event or other (I don't remember nor care).  She was beautiful and had a beautiful female form.  Her female qualities were prominently on display.  Yes, many of us judged her (I fully admit to it myself--I am an enabler of toxicity, too). One thing I found interesting, however, is that the men in the room avoided looking at her.  I find that, in many ways, refreshing.  They probably wanted to look (heck, I did, but out of self-righteousness more than attraction), but instead they looked at their wedding rings.  No one would blame them for being attracted to well-formed female-ness.  They, however, found a way to keep their systems in check.  My point is, I don't care HOW a woman is dressed, a real man will find the decency to NOT take advantage.  We CANNOT use immodesty as an excuse for assault or dehumaninzation.  That doesn't do justice to women OR to men.  It reduces men to victims of their sexuality rather than able masters of it.

I've had brushes with this destructive need to usurp power in my own dating life.  I am ever so grateful that I have never been physically assaulted.  However, I'm beginning to see that my experiences, though different, are most certainly related.  Psychological manipulation is damaging, too.  Isn't that really the most traumatic part of rape?  Again, though rape is the lust for power expressed through sex acts, it is not fundamentally about sex.

I don't have the emotional energy or time to give a lot of details of my own painful experiences (again, they are not of a physical nature).  Perhaps in a future post?  I will say, however, one of the most hurtful things was, when confiding my pain to a girlfriend, I was told that it was probably just something "about the relationship itself."  The man who manipulated my feelings and thoughts was given a way out.  I wasn't.  The man who pushed boundaries as far as he "technically" could and then shamed me for coming along with him got away without a guilty conscience.  I didn't.  The man who knew my vulnerability (because I wanted so much to trust him, so I shared it with him) and pressed his advantage was able to walk away with a shrug and a callous "I told you I never wanted anything serious."  Knowing a person wants something, telling her she can't have it, but holding it in front of her anyway, is manipulation.  It's wrong.  A decent human being does not do things like that.  Decent human beings seek the comfort and well-being of the other and stop when something is hurtful.  Yes, it is the unhealthy human being who responds to bait given, but that doesn't make it ok.  In fact, it makes it even more heinous.  Yes, I was unhealthy (and am still working on it), but heck, I got myself into therapy!  My weakness does not brand me as deserving of abuse.  We, unwittingly sometimes, perpetuate this view...

Let me get back to my comment about how teachings in religious settings can perpetuate hurtful views of womanhood.  I distinctly remember one lesson from the last few chapters of the Book of Mormon.  As high school students sitting in a release time religious study class, we read the grisly details of the fall of Nephite society.  Husbands and fathers were slaughtered on the battlefield.  Women and children were slaughtered in the villages.  The teacher tearfully and emphatically testified that the most heinous part of the attack on the women was not that their bodies were tortured and killed or even posthumously eaten, but that they were deprived of their virtue.  He then continued by telling us young ladies that our virtue is the most important thing about us and that we should guard it with our lives.  The undertones of his preaching fixed in the minds of us young women that if it came to being a victim of rape, we should allow ourselves to be killed first.  Death was more honorable.  Being a victim meant that we didn't fight hard enough.  That is insidious.  Such views tell me that my "virtue" (used in this sense as meaning my sexual purity) is my defining characteristic.  Where do I go from there?  What if (and it's possible) there was a young sister who WAS the victim of rape sitting in that classroom that day?  What was SHE thinking?  What was SHE feeling?  Suddenly, not only did she have the trauma and guilt about the treacherous act on her conscience, but the collective shame of all womanhood on her.  Her worth was gone.  Her "virtue" was her sexual purity and she did not do enough to defend it.  She was defiled.  She would be better off dead.  Somehow, I don't think God's view of my worth is contingent on my virginity.  Nor is His love for me.

Perhaps we can reflect a little more about the way our views about rape and power have been formed and how they are manifesting.

And, who they are really protecting...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Modern Caste...

It wasn't a surprise, actually.  
But, I still died a little.

I'll probably be fine.
I hope it's not a reflection of me.

But, when will I be REALLY seen?

That's what hurts the most--
--it's not an isolated event.

I just don't have a place.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Starting the Conversation...

Let's talk pragmatics. You ain't changing my mind and I ain't changing yours.  How 'bout we find some common ground?

We're both invested in bettering our society, we just use different words to describe our goals.  You speak of protection, duty, and security.  I speak of empathy, compassion, and social awareness.  

Really, we're saying the same thing.

And that's a place to start...

(stay tuned)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Narrative Guide to Communication...

I have a student I’ll call Susan. Recently, I had some great success communicating effectively with her.  She is on the autistic spectrum and is, therefore, challenged by social norms.  Let me get this straight from the get go, Susan does NOT have diminished mental capacities!  She is one of the sharpest tacks in the box.  Nor is she completely in left field when it comes to social situations.  Susan doesn’t run around covering her ears nor does she exhibit extreme stemming behaviors. Her self-medicating tendencies are more subtle, though they can be a little strange.

She often feels certain complex emotions or reactions and doesn’t have the language the rest of us do to express them.  When she is really excited, she reacts physically by flapping her hands together or running.  Sometimes she’ll even get aggressive toward other students and it seems like she is angry.  She will also hyper-focus on topics that either interest her or are bothering her and will not move on until she has somehow expressed her focus.  Susan also lies.  She doesn’t connect her words to the idea of dishonesty because they are simply a way to couch her feelings in terms she can deal with.

Here’s an example: one day during class, Susan was very lethargic and kept putting her head on her desk.  After repeated reminders to sit up straight (sometimes when she is feeling grumpy or unmotivated, she’ll put her head down and I have to be firm with her—just as I am with all my students), I realized that we would get nowhere with that course of action that particular day.  So, when I had a moment to devote to her individually, I pulled her out into the hallway to speak to her in private. 

“Susan, what’s up? You seem like you are having a bad day. Did something happen today to make you feel this way?”
“I saw a rattlesnake yesterday and I have an extreme phobia of rattlesnakes.”
“I’m sorry that happened to you.  However, there are no rattlesnakes here right now and that was yesterday.”

We continued down a fruitless path because I was not reading her signals.  She was not upset about a rattlesnake the day before, in fact, she LOVES snakes and was in the midst of writing a report about rattlesnakes for our science class.  I was confused and frustrated by such “excuses.”  I thought she was just grumpy because someone made her mad or she didn’t feel like participating (both are occurrences I’ve dealt with before and not just with Susan!).  It wasn’t until the next day that I found out the full story.

Susan went home that day not feeling well.  She had a fever and other complications related to being sick (probably a virus—we are a happy little community of disease vectors in fifth grade).  I received an email from her mom the following morning telling me that Susan would not be in school because she was sick.  I was annoyed that she didn’t just tell me she was sick!  I was also a little frustrated that she spent so much time and energy concocting a story about rattlesnakes.

Weeks pased (just a couple) and another lying incident with Susan helped me to see things more clearly.  She receives speech services and either physical therapy or occupational therapy services at school (I think it is the latter because they seem to be working on fine motor skills and not gross).  One day, the specialist who was working with her (I think it was the OT, not the speech specialist—I’m still getting to know everyone at the school, don’t judge), approached me before she picked up Susan from the specialist class (either art, music, or gym) for the weekly OT services.  She introduced herself and let me know she was a semi-permanent sub (or something—too many particulars).  I told her that Susan was having an unusually unfocused day at school (she is often unfocused, but we’ve learned some routines that help her refocus.  That day, she would have none of it) and I wondered if she (the OT) could do some objective probing and questioning.  She agreed.

After the OT session, the woman came to my room (I was eating lunch) to report her findings.  With a little questioning, Susan opened up and told a long story about how her mom was pregnant and going to have a baby in a week.  Susan said she felt nervous because she would not be the only kid anymore and she wouldn’t get all the attention she likes.  After the OT finished, I looked at her and said, “Oh dear.  That’s all a lie.  I JUST talked to her mom in person two days ago and she is, I can assure you, NOT pregnant.”  We sat and chatted for a little bit and came to an interesting conclusion: Susan creates these elaborate stories because she doesn’t have the language to express what is REALLY going on.

After lunch, while my TA was teaching, I pulled Susan aside and said, “I spoke to the OT today and she told me an interesting story.”  Susan immediately ducked her head and smiled.  I continued, “Why did you tell her that story?”  She responded by telling me she felt upset and if she told a story then it made her feel better; it gave her a reason to feel upset. 

How insightful is that?  Susan is not a bald-face liar (though she does exaggerate like any other fifth-grader who tries to one-up his/her friends), but she does invent these elaborate explanations for what others may see as common-place feelings (physical sickness, feeling left-out), which are actually pretty complicated. Once I had a glimpse of this coping strategy, it helped me to more effectively communicate with Susan.  I have to listen with my eyes and intuition as well as my ears. I also have to frame the questions in an attainable manner.

One last example…
We had a fire drill at school recently.  When this happens, all students are hyped up by it, but Susan has an especially difficult time dealing with the excitement and change of routine.  Again, ALL students are affected, but they have more subtle ways of coping.  Not Susan.  She responded by kicking someone (not out of anger, but out of a need to express her excitement).  Both kids got detention from a neighboring teacher (I didn’t see how the whole incident played out, but apparently the other student retaliated in an inappropriate manner).  I targeted Susan for my questioning (as she was the instigator—once I found out the situation, I gave the other kid a stern look and a reminder that retaliation with physical violence of any kind is inappropriate on school grounds.  I kinda wish he wouldn’t have received detention from the other teacher and that we would be more willing to let natural consequences occur.  I mean, if Susan gets pushed back for kicking someone out of the blue, or perhaps if she even gets punched in the nose once or twice, she may be able to more quickly devise better ways to react to stimulation. Much faster than when I spend time lecturing her on a level she doesn’t have the social understandings to grasp.  But, alas!) and then let the other kid go. 

Having learned from experience with other students, I framed my question as such:

“Susan, kicking _______ was wrong.  Why was it wrong?”

Susan was able to respond to this question.  Had I asked, “Why did you kick _____?”, I would have received either an unsatisfactory answer (“I don’t know”) or sullen silence.  Either way, no self-reflection would take place (besides, do ANY of us know why we do dumb things at times?  It’s the temporary loss of logic and reasoning that make it do them, so of COURSE we don’t know WHY).  But, by labeling her behavior in a manner consistent with the context (kicking is wrong on school campus) and providing her with a relatable platform (it is wrong because it breaks the rules), we could converse.  I could even push her further to explain to me why we have a rule against kicking (because it can hurt people) which led to a self-reflective moment for Susan.  She was able to connect her behavior to a negative consequence that adversely affected another person. It took very specific questions and an understanding of her social awareness to bring Susan to a point of empathy.  It is not natural for humans to be empathetic and Susan is just like the rest of us in that regard.  She has the added layer of intense, raw reactions to even the most subtle feelings or changes because her filter is minimal (you and I can filter through the ambient stimuli automatically, not Susan). 

So, once we established that her reaction was inappropriate, we could get down to what made her react.  Knowing Susan as I already did, I was able to intuit that the stimulation of the fire drill (and even my startled reaction to it—I wasn’t expecting it, either) was too much for her to contain in her mind.  She needed an outlet to express that energy.  And kicking was a great release!  She had no animosity toward the kid she kicked nor even a reason for choosing him beyond his proximity.  He wasn’t special or “chosen” (getting him to understand that is difficult, but that relates to another point later on).  Now, I will not go into all the details of the conversation at this point because, frankly, I STILL didn’t pursue the right course of questioning—at least not initially.  Eventually, I figured it out and was able to help her vocalize the fact that she felt disrupted and grumpy about things (it wasn’t just the fire drill—something made her mad at her parents that morning and it had to do with math homework).  This ended up being a day-long discussion because her grumpiness and inappropriate reactions to the environs continued throughout the day (which is how I figured out that it was more than the fire drill) and she got into trouble during gym (a very stimulating place for any kid!).

Now, that was a long introduction for what I REALLY want to talk about.

I am Susan.  No, not in a literal sense or an allegorical sense (I changed the child’s identity to protect an actual child, not to disguise myself as the child).  I mean, I have some pretty striking commonalities with this kid.  I am more sophisticated in my responses and my filter works much more efficiently than does hers, but there are some applicable tenets of this narrative in my own life. 

Just as Susan didn’t know how to label her feelings and so made up elaborate stories to help her cope, there are many feelings I do not know how to label and therefore, I have developed my own coping systems to make them less scary and unknown.  Just as Susan reacted in a way that helped her feel more in control of a chaotic situation, I sometimes react in seemingly inappropriate ways that allow me to feel in control of a chaotic situation (I don’t generally kick people, but I did once throw a cup of water at a roommate).  The last word in all of these reactions is control.  I need to feel secure and safe and I feel those things by being in control. 

Sometimes, I react in ways that hurt other people (like throwing water at a roommate).  There is no real animosity toward the other person, that person just happens to be the one who is around.  People I love and am comfortable with get the brunt of these overreactions.  Unlike Susan, I can hold onto a feeling long enough to get home before lashing out.  So, those I care about are the ones who get to suffer.  Lucky them.

I am not so different from Susan.

Neither are you.