I am Sorry

altar

I have not cried since I learned about the massacre in Newton.

Teared up, yes, nodded my head in sadness when others cried, of course.

But no tears, no weeping, no throwing myself on the floor and screaming myself hoarse like a dear friend did.

I have not cried because instead of grief, I have only felt black rage. Gut-choking anger. Irritated beyond measure. I have railed against almost every blog post and article I have read about Newton, angry at writers telling me I must not avoid the event but grieve; I must not blame; I must wait to talk about gun control; that if I can just let go of the fearful thoughts…

I have railed against it all, feeling that nobody is getting it. I told my friend Michele everybody had their heads up their spiritual butts. Oh yes, I have been angry.

Yet confused because my rage seemingly had no object – besides innocent bloggers. I did not blame the young man or his mother.  I didn’t curse the NRA or the people who make the semi-automatic guns and those deadly gun magazines. I didn’t rail against the U.S. for being a violent nation that spends too much on military. Hell, I couldn’t even dredge up anger at President Reagan for cutting federal aid for mental health programs in the 80′s.

Then this morning, writing, the tears started. And the words “I am sorry” spilled out of my mouth.

I sobbed “I am sorry” again and again.

At first, I worried I might be a little unhinged but after the release of the tears, I got it: My own culpability had been a rock against the door of my heart.

I am sorry dear sweet beloved children and grieving parents and brave teachers. I am sorry I didn’t do more to create a world where you were safer.

I am sorry I allowed cynicism, sloth and my tendency to talk big rather than take action keep me from marching, writing letters and giving money to change the gun story of this country. Stories can be changed. I am sorry I did not make the effort.

85 years ago, my father was 8  years old. He was playing Cowboys and Indians with his neighbor. He picked up his brother’s shotgun. My dad did not know the gun was loaded. I can still remember the blank sorrow on my dad’s face when he told me this story. I must have been about 16. When he told me he had killed his friend. I am sorry that in 85 years we have not made this kind of tragedy unthinkable. Instead, it has been writ so horribly and far too frequently.

I am sorry.

I do not write this from a misguided sense of guilt but from a heart that understands that those children are yours and mine – that all the people who die from gun violence everyday are us. I want us to take better care of ourselves – and unlike so many things – when it comes to gun violence, this is doable. This is not impossible – not at all. That is what I am most sorry about – that the story of our times has become a throw up our hands story.  A story that there is nothing to be done, it’s too complicated, Congress is too divided, our country is too corrupt, money rules, blah blah blah.

I am sorry for ever buying that story. Hope is what I will take from this tragedy, strange as that might seem. Hope is what I will mine from all the needless deaths and yes, from my father’s darkness. Hope to keep myself chugging forward, to keep remembering I can do better.

To change our thoughts, sure. To pray, yes. To meditate, please and to take action – again and again and again – so everyone’s babies and teachers and fathers and teenagers have a better chance.

 

Grab your Sanity Support Kit Here Enjoy the Life Organizer App, Motivational Emails & Journal Prompts

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.j.preston Susan J Preston

    I am not sorry you wrote this. May we companion the rage, hold the fear beneath it and allow love to motivate our butts into action. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.salasin Kelly Salasin

    Thank you Jenn.

    You are not alone.

    So many of us are outraged and find it unthinkable to wait ANOTHER SECOND to address the issue of guns.

    I sobbed all day Friday, then got to work, in between sobs, finding the best I could find on how to move forward, and donating to the Brady Campaign.

    The weekend before this atrocity, I graduated from Yoga Teacher Training. I meditated. I led my last YogaDance classes of the session. Thus inner peace is not absent from my life, nor is compassion, but what I am certain of is that I must show up on behalf of these children, and these teachers, and these family members and this heart-broken community of Newtown. I too feel responsible. We all are responsible when children die.

    I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your father; that someone wasn’t careful enough to be sure an 8 year old couldn’t make this mistake. My own father called me the night of the murders in Newtown. He spoke about the times where he handled guns as a child and as an adult where the results should have been tragic. He was “lucky.”

    Thank you for your voice in every way you share it…

    Kelly
    http://kellysalasin.com/2012/12/17/the-courage-to-change-a-childs-response-to-the-sandy-hook-massacre/

  • anna

    this is such a magnificent expression of divine understanding and compassion … I am so grateful for this to be released into the world … you say “yes, pray, meditate and take action” … and we have to remember all the while “I and my Father are one” and “we are made in the image and likeness of God” … that truth is the Essence of God’s Kingdom … “this” world of duality, good and evil and a sense of separation from God is where that false sense of self plays out as a story self … coming home to our true Identity, our true Nature is the only real solution and then our world will show forth that Oneness, Love, Peace … in the story world “rage really doesn’t have an object” … “I am sorry for ever buying that story” … through this heartache and heartbreak, the Light is coming through … xoxo

  • Elese Coit

    Love you Jen.

    • Jude Spacks

      Yeah, me too. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/danachilders Dana Childers

    Thank you for this post, Jen. Recently I heard a woman speak about child poverty in America (which this very day afflicts a shocking 16.1 million children), and she said with the same rage you have so eloquently expressed, “when will we as mothers stand up and protect our children? When will we say, “our children CAN be saved, and we WILL save them?” She invited us as women not to be just living spectators, but to BE the people we are waiting for. To see that WE are the ones that this moment in history requires. Her speech awakened a drive in me to claim the sacred activist inside myself, to find a way to rise up, to mother the world . . . not just in thought, but in deed. It is time.

  • Jude Spacks

    You forgive yourself, 100%, too, right?

    I had a friend who came from a gun-loving family, and had a cabinet full of his own. He recognized that owning guns was an addiction for him, just like alcoholism, which he and his family also had. I remember learning so deeply from his courage as he gave them up, one by one, and spoke of how vulnerable he felt, how nuts his family members and other friends thought him, how much he wanted to keep just one.

    While I’ve got my head up my spiritual butt most of the time, I can report that from here, it looks meaningful and brave to turn towards willingness to disarm on any level, especially mentally and emotionally. Wise action in the world of form follows naturally, and doesn’t have to be forced by guilt.

  • Sharon Martinelli

    I too am sorry and for so many of the same reasons that you are. I am sorry that I have a nephew, who as a young man of 19 went into the woods with “friends” on a drug deal that went bad and one young man was dead and this nephew sits alone, abandoned until his end days in prison as the one person who would not defend himself and ended up with a life in prison, still not willing to tell the true story of what happened that day. And, I am sorry for the brother who progressively slipped into mental illness and almost died at the hands of the police, when he walked out of his house waving a shotgun. When arrested and taken to jail, one more time, he had possession of 4 guns, one a semi-automatic and the remainder hunting rifles. How did he get them – just 6 months out of jail and out of a mental institution?

    And so, I am giving myself a break for the holidays and for the collective grieving that will be intertwining all of the events. And then, in 2013 I will find out just how powerful this wonderful tapestry of circles can be when we all start finding our voices and doing what is needed to create a safer, more loving world.

    Yes, we must all change our minds and our hearts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.rodgers.503 Linda Rodgers

    So well said, Jen. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gail.overstreet Gail Overstreet

    Whenever something incomprehensible happens, I think of this poem -

    I’ll Meet You There

    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
    there is a field. I will meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass,
    the world is too full to talk about.
    Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
    doesn’t make any sense.

    -Rumi

  • lab

    thank you for sharing your story about this tragedy. this has been a long and terrifying journey for you and for us all. you have come through this journey with the great personal courage that it took to say “I’m sorry”. may the rest of us find this same courage within ourselves so we too can honestly and sincerely say “I’m sorry”. blessings to you….

  • casey deane

    Thank you, Jen. Thank you and thank you, again.

  • Sharon

    I am Canadian. We feel badly, too. We are sorry, too. We can’t change the laws on the other side of our border, but we would love to change the minds behind them. This begins with our own. We are loosening our gun laws right now, partly due to the same influences you feel. We know the danger. We have suffered losses before. No one wants this again. Thank you for your story. It touches everyone and means so much. Namaste.

  • Kate O’Brien

    Dear Jen,

    Two words: THANK YOU.

    I am the mother of three boys, my oldest is 19 (and frankly, pissed and disappointed at the society he is supposed to be excited about contributing to), my younger two are 11 and 8, and my husband is a school teacher. This has hit particularly close to the bone, and I see it as an indicator of a sickness in our society. I can’t really name this sickness, but I think we all know deep down that it is there, and I feel the core of it lies somewhere in the american obsession with independence. I have been thinking about this for a long time. I feel we need more interdependence, more shared experiences, more vulnerability, more accountability, more contemplation, more compassion; all of the things that create resilience in tribes and sustainable culture.

    I design websites and I have recently completed life coach training. I am finding my way into a new business, and hence I subscribe to many entrepreneurial, coachie newsletters and I am shocked when these days after the shooting my inbox continues to be filled (as usual) with automated “offers” and “create a blah-blah-blah and be wealthy/successful/happy by being like me!”. Besides you, only one of these people I follow (and have admired) addressed the shootings at all.

    I want to be in business for myself, but only if what I do can ripple out into the bigger society and serve humanity, and if my business or life gets so automated that I do not even publicly acknowledge a national tragedy, then I am not serving others, and I am a part of the problem.

    Here is what I know: it doesn’t matter how much money you make, how often your subscribers hear from you, how organized you are or how many people are on your fucking list. What is essential is being as compassionate, human and real as you can, as often as you can.

    You do that Jen. And it rocks.

    Love,

    Kate

    • Sandra Pawula

      How deeply eloquent. I am with you!

  • Pingback: One teacher’s thoughts on the idea of arming teachers « I am the Lizard Queen!

  • Kristin Freeman

    Thank you, Jen,

    I, too am so sorry, I write, I protest, I pray, I meditate, yet I am sorry that I have not done more. Thank you for giving a place to say, yes folks, I care and I am so sorry that I have not done more.

    I will do more. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    Kristin

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.schouw.7 Paul Schouw

    This is one of the most heart-wrenching posts I have ever seen. What you say here is very true, profound and powerful. I am writing a book called “Life (as I see it) A to Z”. I try to express my views on society and the human condition, which very much parallel yours. I would love to get your posts directly to my email (paul.schouw@gmail.com). I would also like permission to quote you, as I believe you can say things far more eloquently than I ever could.

    With respect and admiration to you, Paul

  • MarianneElliott

    Amen, Jen.

    I go to action first, it’s all I’ve ever known how to do in response to the injustice and pain and suffering in the world. I have been learning to let myself feel and grieve. But not in the place of action. Not as a way to make the anger go away. We need to act, we need to pray and weep, and rage and act. The world needs all of that from us.

    And each of us needs to be allowed to do it in the order and timing that is right for us. Like you I’ve been angered by posts telling people when it is okay or not okay for them to be in each part of the process.

    When you are angry, be angry. When you are sad, be sad. When you need to pray, pray. When you need to act, act.

    Amen, sister. Amen

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.davies.338 Mary Davies

    Wow, Jen, I never knew that story about your dad. There’s some material for a novel! Good post; thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.weimer.5 Richard Weimer

    Nice job Jen…… well written and obviously tough to do!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lora.jansson Lora Jansson

    Love and on my knees, holding this: we can change. Grief is the river I float today, and there is no shore for me yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabethbarbour Elizabeth Trezise Barbour

    We can all do better. Thanks for this poignant reminder Jen.

  • Peggy

    Thank you, Jen. Your words felt raw and straight from the heart. I found myself moving through the Hawaiian 4 part Ho’oponopono meditation on Friday: “I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Saying it to everybody, no exceptions. The Rage was there, too, passionate and searing. May it become fierce compassion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MarthaJoAtkins Martha Atkins

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.oscar Amy Ozarow Oscar

    I am sorry, too – and angry and sad. I did cry – a lot – every time I let myself near the radio, I couldn’t seem to stop the tears. They didn’t well up, they didn’t fill my eyes – they leapt out of me; choked out; blew out as my heart tore and tore and tore. This is just so unspeakably sad. I could only meet it with feeling. I rewrote my own blog post at least 20 times. I have been feeling this way – sorry – all weekend. Thank you for being you – for bravely putting words to it.

  • Narelle CQ

    Jen,I am Australian. I live in Brisbane. I thank you for writing this; it landed in my inbox today. Thank you for the reminder that we are, after all, All One. That I am you and that you are me. My beloved daughter’s first babe will arrive any day now; as she births her daughter and becomes a mother I will become a grandmother. My own Mother passed late last year.The cycle turns. We are co-creators, and we are choice. I want to ask you, as I read your post, have you sent this to Obama? Please do. Love!

  • http://twitter.com/mccorca604 HAMs Daughter

    Your not alone. I feel exactly the same way. You’re a little ahead of me in finding your emotions. Perhaps it’s easier for me to be tired of this more than outraged or saddened because I’m a little removed not being an American. Strangely it feels worse not being sad and outraged but at the same time I am spent. How many more times does this need to happen? So I’ve resorted to more reasoned thinking to feel better about my lack of feeling. I have asked many “what do we do now?” No one has answers yet but I can only hope someone keeps asking the question until there are some comprehensive answers.

  • Elise

    Deeply touching.. So true. Was meaningful to read and be reminded each of us CAN take action.

  • http://www.facebook.com/canyonqueenme Mary Montanye

    Oh, darling Jen, This is exactly what I went through — the gut-wrenching blind, black rage. And I have yet to cry. Still, I go to sleep every night thinking about those children, those teachers. And I awake in the morning (or several times during the night) with the same thoughts. The rage seems to be gone and is replaced by an utter sense of hopelessness. And tremendous guilt because I stopped working with troubled children believing I couldn’t do it anymore. My first thought was that I had to go back to work.

    But what I’m going to do instead is wait until I feel the full gamut of my feelings, however, they come, wait until I can cry. And then I’m getting into action too. This must change. We cannot let the gun lobby control the safety of our children and our citizens. Mental health treatment must be a priority. And while we’re at it, our government’s threat to the lives of children in other countries needs to be a great deal more transparent. Most of us don’t know the full extent of what we are DOING!!!!

    I will see you soon. And for that I am very grateful.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Noelani-Correll/1096994168 Tara Noelani Correll

      Mary, Thank you. This and so many other tragic events have been related to guns…. an issue for certain. Mental illness is the “other” ugly perpetrator that at most times goes unrecognized and is ignored without issue. Misunderstood, ugliness. Get to the root.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maia.duerr Maia Duerr

    Oh Jennifer, you just gave us the gift of your hard-earned and heartfelt wisdom through this post… our emotional process isn’t always pretty (rarely is it!), but it is real. Thank you for this.

    I’ve been stunned into silence around what happened in Newtown… usually I am the action person, but this one was so shattering… plus, in my 20s, I lived and worked in Newtown so I can see and remember that school, that neighborhood, and the areas surrounding it. The visceral connection feels strong.

    However, today, I feel that I’m moving into a space where action is right. And I found one that I can take — just discovered this pledge: http://act.boldprogressives.org/survey/survey_gunpromise/?source=tw

    I invite you and others to join me in taking that pledge… it is the least we can do for those kids, and all the children today.

  • stefanie lindeen

    thank you for writing what i haven’t been able to muster…thank you for your truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tara-Noelani-Correll/1096994168 Tara Noelani Correll

    Jen,
    Your personal story must not go unrecognized. I’m sorry for your legacy of loss. Much love, T

  • jennspen

    Next week, I’m going home for Christmas and holding my little nephews (in kindergarten and grade 2) extra close. And send my silent prayer, the same as on the days they were born, that they see beauty and hope more than sorrow and pain in their lives. My heart breaks for the family and friends of these young ones and their teachers. And the language in the media — children who were ‘lost’. They weren’t lost – they were taken out by a troubled young man with an assault weapon legally owned by the woman murdered just before the children and their teachers met their violent ends. If anyone was lost, it was the shooter and those responsible for public policy on both firearms and mental health issues.

    The taking of so many innocent little lives, full of potential, is just devastating. I don’t understand how America can grieve school shootings, one after another, and not rethink the right to bear arms in a meaningful way. Maybe this time will be different — I can hope — but I just don’t understand American gun culture. I heard an interview on American TV where some talking head suggested the cure would be to arm the teachers. Wow. Isn’t the traditional wisdom that an eye for an eye leaves both people blind? It’s too easy to react with violence. Surely the public policy response can be more sophisticated than that.

    I always thought it was funny that America’s constitutional creed was “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” while ours here in Canada was “peace, order and good government”. As a kid, I thought my American cousins had way more fun. Just now, I’m pretty grateful that I grew up in a society where the common wisdom is we are safer without guns than with them.

    Sending you much love, sympathy and hope from north of the border –

  • mj

    Jen,

    I am sorry for your suffering.

    My belief is that now is the time to allow, hold space, for all the emotions, all the reactions/inactions. Any form of judgement, surely, only adds to our collective suffering.

    I also believe, that it is a human illusion that we have any control. We do have choice, we can choose differently, but a sense of control….that is beyond us in our human state.

  • jason poole

    I LOVE THIS POST, MS. JEN. Thank you for showing up and saying YES to the courageous words that were on your heart. Thank you for being courageous and sharing them with us. It resonates. It resonates.

  • http://twitter.com/mamawolfeto2 Jennifer Wolfe

    Thank you, Jen. I am a teacher, and I am angry, too. I see both issues here: mental health and gun control. Our country needs to stop ignoring the crisis happening with our young people, and stop pretending that assault rifles are needed for hunting. The only thing being hunted with them right now seems to be innocent people. And this crap people are spewing to me about arming teachers…that makes me so incensed I cannot stand it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Mark_Silver

    Amin. Amin. Amin. And my voice is slowly coming back from being hoarse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danteck1 Dan Teck

    While we can always discuss the details (best course of action, new laws, etc.), the one thing I know is this: the antidote to hatred and insanity is love and sanity. Thank you for providing both–in this post and in your life. Blessings to all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mahalamazerov Mahala Mazerov

    Dear Jen, it’s been over two weeks since the shootings and almost two since you wrote this heartfelt piece. I hope you’ll write a follow up on where these thoughts have taken you. What effective actions have you taken or found for the future? Most especially, I’m wondering if this is the birth of a new iteration of your Savor and Serve path. I look forward to hearing more. With love ~ Mahala

    • jenlouden

      I have been working on just that but not in the best place to write these days – just having a hard Christmas and in a very blah state. But I know writing on this issue will help and is needed. So I will. Thanks for lovingly nudging me.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mahalamazerov Mahala Mazerov

        There’s been a lot of hard Christmas this year. Sigh. Sending love to you. When the time is right, you’ll write.