It’s been a remarkably hard week, even by my standards.
Saturday I got a notice from the city that my lawn was too high, and I’d get a ticket if it wasn’t mowed. We have to mow the lawn very rarely because of how our psychotic neighbor attacks us when we do. Michael went out to mow the lawn so we’d be in compliance with city ordinances, and we were punished with the neighbor having a dangerous flailing tantrum until we called 911. I don’t like having the police at my house, but I didn’t know what to do. Sunday I found the long scratch on my car, my menacing neighbor’s latest vengeance for our daring to be outside mowing our lawn and trying to mind our own business. Monday morning, when I had errands to run, I found that she’d slashed our tires, and was more or less told to do my own detective work about that. I have the cheapest insurance that doesn’t cover my car at all, just anyone I happen to hit, and had to pay everything we had for the electric bill to get the car drivable again. Then I had to find a location to hide the car so I wouldn’t have to be shelling out money for tires every couple of days– that in addition to bothering two busy friends to give me rides to run errands I couldn’t put off while my car was in the shop.
Since then my neighbor has been holed up in her house all day long, only letting the German Shepherd out to pee after dark and at four in the morning and then go for an erratic drive up and down the block looking for our car. I’ve heard her on her porch ranting about our car, so I think she wants to keep hurting it to get vengeance on us. A couple of times I’ve gone out for a long walk to check on the car and make sure it’s still safe. That’s just how LaBelle is. Our neighbor in the apartment we lived in before this one was equally dangerous. This is a place where people have been ground into the dust by systemic violence and cruelty, and they all behave like animals. I’d love to help them if I could. The people who do have power in this city want to deal with the crime by gentrification instead of by actually helping, which is how I’ve ended up living in a city where you get ticketed for not mowing your lawn, but actual violent people aren’t dealt with at all and we have to stand guard over our own property all night.
Later this week I had a Catholic commentator inform me that talking publicly about spiritual abuse so that survivors know they’re not alone is self-pity, which is hard to hear but I can usually let it roll right off. This week it stung.
Yesterday I wrote a little about the abortion law in Texas, criticizing it because I don’t actually believe that legal bans on abortion are ethical or helpful in our society, because rather than stopping abortion they punish women. They punish victims instead of perpetrators of systemic violence. I believe that abortion is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad symptom of our violent society which uses people for profit and tries to eliminate them when they’re not profitable. I believe it is a form of violence which is a symptom of previous violence. The correct number of abortions is zero, but we have to channel our anger against the real perpetuators of violence. I believe that the fetus has personhood and value so I want to limit abortion as much as I can through helping people have other choices. I’m used to getting criticized for that, usually by other Catholics who call me a baby killer. I wrote the post because I thought it was important to say something.
Later that day, I wrote a post about how I’ve found it’s helpful to listen to and talk with people having suicidal thoughts. In that post I was probably more vulnerable than I should have been, and admitted that the situation with my neighbor is causing me so much distress that I myself have been panicking and having such thoughts, I’ve been talking with a social worker and getting the help I need. I did that because I don’t know how to encourage people to be honest with one another and to listen with attention and empathy, except to set the example myself. My Achilles heel is that I truly believe that people want to be good and to help one another.
This morning I didn’t get to sleep until 5 AM because I was checking on the car and having anxiety about it.
I woke up after noon, and the first thing I saw was a shutoff warning because we spent everything we had on the car fiasco.
The second thing I saw was that a pro-choice commentator, offended that I’d dared to say fetuses have personhood, got into the comment box on my post about suicide and empathy and tried to kill me.
That’s what it is when you say such horrendously violent and abusive things to someone who’s just admitted to having thoughts of self-harm. You’re trying to push them right off the cliff. If you abuse someone who is already vulnerable, that’s attempting murder. Catholics grow up learning in Catechism lessons that verbal abuse is a sin against “thou shalt not kill” just as stabbing someone with a knife is. Whatever your belief system, whatever you think of Catholics, I want to assure you that that is true.
I have a support system, so in case you were worried, I’ll be okay.
But I am beside myself at how cruel and sadistic our world is.
I want to combat the darkness by being different. I’m not a hundred per cent sure how anymore, but I’m not going to give up.
I’ll be bringing a bag of canned food we bought a couple weeks ago when we had money to the Friendship Room free pantry this afternoon, because that’s one of the things that gives me hope when I don’t have any. Then I’m taking Rosie to the park for a picnic. I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow.
If anyone’s still listening to me, please try to think of something you can do today to make the world less cruel. That’s all we have. We have our commitment to fight back against the cruelty by acting in a different way. I think that way is stronger than cruelty. I think that light can shine forth in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
I’m sorry, but that’s all I have today. I’ll write something more poetic tomorrow if I’m feeling better.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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