Thursday, June 18, 2015

You Can't Blame the Yankees

Sometime ago I was listening to the radio on the way to school as people called in to share their experiences with "hatred by association." One woman hated the Yankees. The team had never done anything to harm her. But her ex-boyfriend was a fan, and whenever she saw the logo, she thought of him. So she lumped the Yankees in with the memory of him and hated the whole package.
Nearly everyone who called in had the same story. A friend, a family member, a lover-someone important to them had betrayed them or left their lives, and they hater everything their memory clung to. 
That was the first time I ever heard someone bring up secondhand hate in my hearing. But the more I think about it, the more I see it.
A toddle is attacked by a pit bull. He grows into a man who hates pit bulls, cocker spaniels, Dalmatians, chihuahuas, and anything else with four legs and a dog collar.
A girl is bullied by a girl named Sheila. Twenty years later, her husband wants to name their first born daughter after Great Aunt Sheila, and she won't hear of it.
A white kid, age nine, is bullied by a Hispanic kid. He hates that kid and projects that hatred onto an entire race. If he grows up racist, it's not because he was bullied as a child, but because he chose to hold onto that hate.
A woman falls in love with a man. They're engaged only for him to break it off three days before the wedding. She turns her back in love for the rest of her life.
Sometimes it's less secondhand hate than secondhand fear or pain. But if you find yourself clinging to something that never hurt you, it's unnecessary. Pain isn't the only option.
My friend Hannah had a near drowning incident in third grade. It left her with mental and physical limitations. She used a wheelchair for part of elementary school, but now she's fine walking and standing for short periods. We were chatting about the coming summer in class one day when she told me she was looking forward to swimming.
"You're not afraid of water?" I asked.
"No. My mom is, but I'm fine."
She's the one who nearly drowned. But she has no memories of the accident, so even though she lives with the consequences every time she stands or walks, she hasn't chosen to hold onto secondhand fear.
At age ten I was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. I disagreed with the diagnosis and didn't accept it until years after the symptoms had vanished. So when I told people I had Tourette's, it brought on guilt. Once, after checking me out for a doctor's appointment, my mom took me shopping. I got five shirts. I wore those shirts for the next three years. Each time I did, I remembered where I got it and why. 
But I didn't stop wearing those shirts just because.
We went to a Christmas party with other Tourette's kids. I got a Polly Pocket from the gift exchange. She cost her buyer less than five dollars, but every time I looked at her, she was a present I didn't deserve. I barely played with her. But if I didn't have her on display with my other dolls, I felt I was hiding my shame. So I kept her out in the open. 
Now she's shut away in a box under a pile of papers in my bottom dresser drawer. I come across her maybe once a year when I reorganize my drawer. And each time I'm guilty again. But you know what? There's no reason this little lump of plastic should be a guilt vessel. I didn't steal it. The guilt isn't about the doll, it's about the memories I've shut inside it. Secondhand guilt isn't worth holding onto either.
Displaying IMG_1933.JPG

You can't blame the Yankees for a breakup. If you breakup with the Yankees along with the boy, you're not protecting yourself. You're losing both your boyfriend and your favorite team. What else goes out with the bathwater? Your special song? The whole album? The singer? An entire music genre?  I read a post from a woman whose last three breakups occurred while Taylor Swift songs were playing. Now she gets nervous whenever her music comes on while she's in the car with her boyfriend. 
There is a place for hate.You can't let hate drive you, consume you. The same goes for fear, worry, anger, and guilt. Most negative emotions that take their toll on you are secondhand.
So why let them consume you?

No comments:

Post a Comment