Monday, October 24, 2011

Collective Grief

I feel a little like I don't have a right to address this topic... inadequate, a step removed. But it is a hard one to get past or around. I think I need to write through it.

You see, a woman one class ahead of me in high school was shot in the head by her husband on Friday. My personal profile Facebook page is full of it. Grief. Disbelief. The ones that make me cry are the wishes for peace. I really hope she has found it.

I didn't know her well—maybe two or three conversations ever, which is a sort of low number considering she was close to one of my close friends. But she was a larger than life personality. Loud—she laughed loud, she shouted across rooms and parking lots and fields. There was never any doubt she was there. But, as she was a year older, I found that intimidating, even though in the few direct interactions I had, she was always nice.

But she was a tough girl. In my generation, very few girls physically fought, but I remember hearing about a few with her. You see, she developed early, and so I think was subject to a level of peer speculation, rumors, attention, that can be hard for a young girl to cope with. I admire that she got tough instead of letting people talk crap behind her back, especially as I'm sure much of it was untrue.

I guess the thing I keep thinking now is... did that level of abuse continue into her adulthood? Did her peers talk crap even later? I didn't hear anything even by high school... teens have short attention spans and I'm sure had moved onto other fodder.  On Facebook I wasn't friends with her—I just didn't feel I knew her well enough to ask. But we shared a lot of friends so I 'saw' her a lot. She seemed happy—pictures looked happy, comments seemed happy. I had thought 'good for her'. I don't want to think now that that happiness was an illusion. I want to believe she really found it.

According to the newspaper, it happened like this: he shot her in the head, they together tried to make it to a neighbor's, she collapsed in the driveway and he got to the door begging them to call 9-1-1. This was a man clearly devastated by what he'd done. He put his hands up when the police arrived. He didn't try to argue. But that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Regret doesn't reverse anything.

How does a relationship go this wrong? The liberal in me wants to say this is a hell of an argument against keeping firearms in the home. But there HAD to be other disfunction besides just owning guns. A lot of people own guns without shooting family members. Heck, I grew up in a house with guns and the biggest accident was when some boys (friends of mine) dumped shot pellets down the garbage disposal.--that led to the lock on the gun room (yes, we had a gun room—the GUNS had been locked in a cabinet... apparently the ammo had not).

I know for a fact domestic violence is everywhere. I know people who live in it usually come from a history of it—both abuser and abused. I DON'T know if that was the situation here. The neighbors said they fought a lot, but the image in my head is she probably gave as good as she got most of the time. I don't see her being a scared, cowed woman. I think her husband would have shown a lot less remorse if he felt he was superior or tougher. I might be completely wrong, but I think rather than a stereo-typical domestic violence situation, they were people who had trouble reining it in when they fought... people who maybe could have benefited from some skills in discussion--behavioral therapy.

I don't know what can be done. I mean for a more traditional situation, I feel like offering help—getting the victims to shelters, making sure they know they aren't alone—all those are great steps. But how much do we know about our neighbors?

A house around the corner had a bunch of furniture on the lawn a few weeks back... I suspect a cheating spouse, only because that is what would cause ME to put all HWMNBMOTI's stuff out in the yard. I have no clue if their immediate neighbors knew there was trouble... I have no clue if THEY knew there was trouble. A drastic move like that seems like a sudden discovery.

Anyway, I just want to throw out some love and healing karma to my friends and to Bobbi's family. This is so sad, and I really wish there were a way to speed the healing. And I wish there were a way to help all the families going through this.

If you are, or if you know somebody who is... find someone you can trust. Tell someone. If it is the case of fights that just get out of control, take this as evidence you really need to learn to cool off the situations, because in the heat of the moment, it could really get THIS BAD.


Trisha said...

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I know you say you didn't know her all that well, but it's still a terrible shock when it happens to someone you know or have known.

Mel Chesley said...

Wow. My thoughts and prayers to her family and friends and yes, I hope she finds the peace she deserves. You may not find out the whole story, but it is odd to me that they went to a neighbor's to call 9-1-1. What was wrong with their phone? But this is just the conspiracy theorist coming out in me.
I survived two abusive marriages before I figured out the freaking patter. (Second marriage was quicker than the first once I finally caught on.) Its hard to explain what I was thinking. I was like your friend, I shouted across the room, I stood out in a crowd. I don't recall any abuse in my past, but well, that's another story. But when it came down to brass tacks, I used to stand up to the first SOB, even had him thrown in jail. But then it got to the point where I would shout back and then cringe away. I didn't go down without a fight, but the fight was becoming worse.
I had to hit a 'wall' where enough was enough and I had to get out of there before something really bad happened. Funny thing is, my ex remarried and there is no evidence of abuse in that marriage. So I question myself. Was it just me? Did I bring out the worst in him? What the hell did I do?
Sorry, don't mean to leave a novel of a comment. But it just goes to show, you might know of someone but you won't ever know what goes on behind closed doors, if this was an accident or on purpose. It is something only the husband will ever know.
Hugs to you. It sucks to go through things like this, even if you didn't know her that well. It hits close to home.

Old Kitty said...

I am so sorry to hear about this poor woman. The use of guns, violence, domestic abuse... when will these all end??

My thoughts and prayers to her family and loved ones. This is so sad.

Take care

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Domestic violence is very tragic. I use to help with a support group for women at a shelter in a nearby town. Very scary stuff.

Creepy Query Girl said...

that is so so sad. It sounds to me like an argument gone wrong too and it does make you wonder about what goes on behind closed doors:(

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Such a sad situation. No one ever really knows all the facts because the abused/abuser become so adept at hiding life. (Those great posts on Facebook)
To think that the only way to peace has to be that permanent, drains the joy out of a day for sure.

vic caswell said...

i don't really know what to say here.
i'm very sorry for both bobbi and her husband and all the friends and family left behind trying to sort it all out. trying to make some sense of it.
being available for your friend that was close to her is probably the best thing i can think of that you could do.
it's just all so sad.
and all to common.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

What a sad sad story. And having a gun in the house clearly didn't help what was probably a volatile relationship.

Hart Johnson said...

Thank you so much for being so supportive, everyone.

Mel, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I'm sure you know a lot better than most of us how it can go.

I really appreciate everyone's kind words.

Christine Murray said...

I teared up at this. I am so sorry Hart. It's scary. Whenever I see the statistics for domestic violence (against women and men) I'm always hit by the fact that I must know people living in these situations. It's too prevalent for me not to. What an awful way to live.

Sometimes society can be awfully cruel. I hopes she finds peace now.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

How do things go so wrong? Easy. Anger. I've seen some horrible things done out of anger. It is one of the most destructive emotions. My mom used to be able to push my dad's buttons so well. She knew just what to say to come off as well...a bitch (for lack of a better word). I remember he would get so angry. I don't know why people who live together get like this...maybe a bad day at work or stress at home. I don't know the circumstance surrounding the death of your former classmate. But on the surface...this looks like the ultimate consequence of uncontrolled anger--the destruction of at least two lives.

Dawn Ius said...

What a beautiful post to address a great tragedy. Despite not knowing her well, it's always alarming to hear of someone you know dying in such a terrible way. I'm sorry for your loss. xo

Helena said...

I wish I had words of wisdom to give you, Hart, but whenever I hear stories like this words seem so inadequate. How to explain the destructive side of human nature? Still, I hope you and this woman's family find peace.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is just terrible. That someone's anger was so out of control they shot the person they supposedly loved. I can't imagine hurting anyone, let alone a woman. I wasn't raised that way.

Johanna Garth said...

I'm so sorry Hart! It's such a hard situation. Years ago, a friend of a friend murdered his entire family. Although I didn't know the family well I had spent time at their house, once I read a story to their kids. There are simply no words! I think about it less often now but even after all these years it's still a very difficult memory.

Hart Johnson said...

Christine, you are so right, that the statistics suggest we have people in our midst. Scary to think about.

Michael-I don't know why we do that, either. I think it is more than anger, but anger is certainly part of it.

Dawn-thank you!

Helena-I have enough psych background, that if I try, I can build a pretty good history of how it could happen, but somehow, in real life, you never know enough to see that it has happened.

Alex-I think though, so many people are taught that, but it sounds like you were also SHOWN that. That is often what I think is missing... words don't mean much if the experience is different.

Johanna-that's awful! That would be so hard to cope with!

LTM said...

oh, god, TH! I had no idea. I'm so so sorry. ((BIG virtual hug)) Man. Domestic violence is the worst, and they say the abuser won't stop til he's in jail or the wife's dead. Ugh.

I'm so sorry. Love you~ :o\ <3

Laura said...

Hi Hart - I'm so sorry to read this. I really feel for you - it doesn't matter how close you are, it is such a shock and sad loss. My thoughts with you and her friends and family. Just be sure to give yourself as much love and time as you need too!
Love Laura x

Danette said...

Hart, Sorry too to hear of this sad situation. Domestic violence is so difficult to understand and it is generally far more complicated than just a victim/perpetrator situation. I had friends with policemen some years ago when I was a waitress and they always hated domestic violence calls because of the volatility- because it may be that one person may need to be in jail but the other will protect them and they have such a codependent relationship (like Michael was describing) and the police can't get the whole story. I have a friend (or former friend) who's relationship with her husband was very volatile and they'd split up, even divorce, and then get back together. It's hard to understand human nature sometimes.

Unknown said...

Hey Hart - Sorry to hear such sad news. Thinking of you. Throwing out some love and healing karma too

Southpaw said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. Things like this really shake us up. Peace to you, your friend, and everyone else.

Krista McLaughlin said...

I'm so sorry. That really is terrible. You are so true when you say that regret doesn't reverse anything.

Deb and Barbara said...

Just catching up, Hart. Had a few giggles at your "scary" posts, but this one just stopped me cold. So very sad. The worst kind of "accident". I feel like your intuition is right on this one, which makes it all the more tragic. Sending love to all involved (yes, you too)