When I was about twelve years old I saw a group of kids huddled around a bucket in a courtyard I was passing on my way home from school. Some of the kids were younger than me, and a few were older, or at least bigger. Some of them were laughing, some were just staring, and a couple looked scared. The biggest one, a boy, was holding a broom upside down, and thrusting the end of it into the bucket over and over again. There was something squealing in the bucket, and I found myself walking over without thinking about it. Some of the smaller kids saw me coming and took off, but the boy with the broom had his back to me, and didn’t notice me until I was right up next to him, peering over the edge of the bucket at a small, white, terrified mouse. It was covered in some kind of powder that smelled like bleach. “What are you doing??!!” I asked him, shocked. I took the broom. He stared at me, and so did the other kids who were still there, frozen. “I don’t know, ” he finally mumbled. “We found this mouse and didn’t know what to do with it.” He looked horrified and embarrassed, but he said, “Fine, you take it.” Which I did.
There’s so much I could say about the cycle of violence and abuse. Hurt people hurt people (or mice), as the saying goes. If the people who were meant to love, nurture and protect you, didn’t, due to their own limitations or history of abuse, that’s a wound that needs healing. Few things feel worse than the belief that you are somehow not lovable. Or that you don’t matter, that you’re invisible. Most people experience times when they feel like that mouse. Terrified and alone and confused. Trapped and running in circles, shrieking for help, or feeling their fate is not in their own hands. Life can be like that sometimes. The end of a broom handle coming at us without any cause. Grief and loss can feel that way. The why of it can strip a person down to their bones. You might believe in karma. You might think everything happens for a reason, or we choose the experiences we need for the evolution of our soul, or we arrive here with debts to pay from past lives. You may believe in chaos theory, in the butterfly effect, or that we turn to worm-food when we die and that’s that.. You may think you create your reality with your thoughts. It doesn’t really matter. You’re a human being, and when you experience devastating loss, or violence or the kind of pain that makes it hard to breathe in and breathe out, it becomes obvious that we are all equally vulnerable. People cling to beliefs as if they’re shields. If I’m a good person and I do good things, I’ll be rewarded. But life doesn’t work that way, as any number of good people can tell you. Sometimes horrendous things happen to the most beautiful human beings.
We want to believe we can control things, and that our good behavior will guarantee us freedom from suffering. There’s no such contract. You will lose people you love beyond words simply because you’re a person with an expiration date and so is everyone else. And then there’s all the stuff that life brings. The fact is, we need each other. We come into this world needing to be held and fed and cared for, and that need for connection doesn’t end when we learn to walk and can feed ourselves. The joy in life comes out of love. If you didn’t have a foundation of love, you can create one for yourself, but it takes time and work and a willingness to sit with all your pain until the heat of it dissipates. And you may need some help with that. You don’t have to repeat what you know, especially if what you know breaks your heart. You can learn something else. You have a choice in life, you can be the person with the broom, or you can be the person taking it away. I believe we all come into the world as people who’d take the broom and save the mouse. I think we all come from love. But if you were taught fear and pain and that people will hurt you and life will hurt you and you cannot trust anyone, then you really need to unlearn that. Because it isn’t true. And if you learned that you are not lovable or that your feelings don’t matter, you need to unlearn that as well, because those are also lies. No one owns you. And your past doesn’t own you, either, unless you let it. We belong to each other, but it’s the kind of belonging that’s based on absolute freedom. It’s my belief that you’re here for a reason. The odds that you are the only you in a world of seven billion people and it’s some kind of accident or coincidence seem extremely low to me. I believe you have a particular song to sing, and that if you fail to sing it, the world is robbed of a beauty it can’t create any other way. But your song may be buried under rage and grief and disappointment. In which case it’s your job to start digging. For yourself, for your own peace and freedom, and for all the people in your life. Be the broom-taker you really are. Sending you love. Ally