All That Really Matters…

It’s that time of year again. Most of my life I have approached the holidays with a combination of dread and loathing. From my earliest memory I still can feel the disappointment and fear that comes from being a child in tough economic times – money, or more rightly the lack thereof- was guaranteed to get Mom and Dad at each other’s throats.

Christmas time was always a really turbulent time of the year. Dad, especially, always wanted to do the large and lavish holiday things but the money wasn’t there. So he would get bitter and depressed. If only he would have known that a quiet and frugal observance of the Incarnation and birth of Christ with sharing and love would have been so much better than just another series of money fights.

It was better to put up simple decorations and lights and to make homemade candy with Grandma than to dance around the tension at home.

I have gotten to the point where I can barely tolerate the retail bonanza that accompanies the holiday season. I love Advent and the religious observance of Christmas. I can even get into the decorations and baking, but no, I am not into buying tons of crap for people who (like me) do not need tons of crap.  Meaningful, needful and useful gifts are one thing, especially for someone you know is in need, but simply procuring a piece of vapid kitsch to wrap up so you can say you gave someone a gift is just not my thing.

Maybe that sounds sort of Scroogish but there’s no need to get me anything either. I do not need any bath sets, Walmart knockoffs of colognes that give me migraines, or socks and granny panties.  I don’t mind a good gag gift, a raunchy calendar or good theological books (that I would have to choose…)   The only things I really want are intangible anyway.

And off to the intangibles. I really want that one thing I have found to be so elusive- to be loved, to belong, to be accepted the way I am even though I wasn’t made for this world.

That’s a lot to ask, and maybe even wrong to ask, but who knows?

But “He Said He Loves Me,” Lies from the Pit of Hell, and Boiling Frogs

love and lie

I’m not into telling people how to live their lives.  If I had the cash to buy myself a remote mountain retreat with an indoor pool, hot tub and Internet access to have everything I need delivered to me, believe me, the only people I would communicate with or see face to face would be people I want around.  That would be less than 3 people on most days, up to a maximum of maybe 10.  Quality matters a lot more than quantity as far as humans with whom I choose to share physical space.

I think that sometimes my outlook has to do with the fact that I am still recovering from and will always probably be recovering from the effects of toxic relationships.  I have been bitten enough times to be a lot more than twice shy.

My default in relating to other humans, if you are familiar with the first stage of Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development, is mistrust. As far as being in my inner circle, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.  It’s practical and it’s pragmatic on my part to be wary, especially if you have endured what I have endured at the hands and whims of others.

I don’t share this to troll for pity.  I don’t want anyone’s pity.  For the first time in my life (and that’s 50 years, folks) I am thankful for where my life is right now, and for what I am NOT putting up with.  I am not getting the hell beaten out of me by older siblings and by the kids at school.  I am not working for psychotic, coke-head bosses, nor am I working 80+ hours a week for a pathetically inadequate salary.

I am not married to an idiot who didn’t want his own son and proved it by signing off his parental rights for the low, low price of $7500.00 in back support.  I am not married to a drunken sot (who admittedly was a slight improvement over idiot #1) who put on a good show in front of people, but behind closed doors engaged in more than enough verbal, emotional, financial, and yes, even physical abuse at times over twenty years to last many lifetimes.

boiling frog

I’ve seen the metaphor of a frog in boiling water- the hotter the water gets the more of a tolerance the frog has, until he just boils to death.  I didn’t know what normal was, so as the heat got hotter I blamed myself.  I tried harder. If I could just do more, earn more, if I could be something other than a frumpy klutzy nearsighted scared puppy…

It wasn’t normal to have to sleep in the car because of the loud music and tirades in the middle of the night.  But he claimed to love me. So I slept in the car many nights.

It wasn’t normal to be tossed around by the hair.  But he claimed to love me. So I cut my hair super short, so he wouldn’t be able to get a grip on it.

It wasn’t normal to make excuses for Jerry’s drunken behavior or to try to mediate between him and his drunken friends.  But even through his drunken stupidity- he claimed to love me. So I kept making excuses.

It wasn’t normal to clean up after a 40 or 50 something year old man with the toileting skills of a toddler and a supreme ability to trash an entire house in minutes. But he claimed to love me. So I kept cleaning up after him.

It wasn’t normal to be ordered to do laundry, cook and clean right after coming home from major surgery. But he claimed to love me.  So I tried to do what he wanted even when it was against medical advice.

I didn’t have the clarity of mind or the sense of outrage I should have had to simply get out of the boiling water and to jump out of the pot.

Nothing was ever enough. By the time Jerry died I finally understood that there was nothing I could have done that would have been good enough to keep him from abusing me. Whatever was in his psyche that caused his behavior didn’t mean I had to stand and take it.

It’s easy to see the best course of action from the outside of the hot pot- get the hell out- but when you’re on the inside of it, it’s normal, it’s familiar, it is reality, even if it’s killing you.

I made excuses with the best of them.  I was afraid of losing my housing- which was a very real fear because the house we lived in was provided by Jerry’s employer.  I was afraid of being alone.  I felt worthless because he kept telling me how nobody else would want a weird and physically “damaged” person like me and that I should be grateful for him.

He mocked me because of my surgical scars and reminded me constantly how physically unattractive I am.

The longer he’s been gone, the more I can see the bullshit and lies more clearly.

I can look into the boiling pot from the outside and say no way in hell am I going to land in there again.

If anything I would want to teach by example, even if the example is of what NOT to do.

Don’t stand for being degraded and controlled.

Fight for your child(ren) to the death no matter what that might look like.

Remember that you have the right not to be abused.

 

 

 

 

Wisdom of an Ancient, If I Could Revise the Past, and Hyperlexic Hazards

parenthood--z

This can’t be real. She has lipstick on. And mascara. I was in maternity clothes for the following 4 months after my son was born because of my poorly done C-section incision….and looked like a complete train wreck for months after that!

Sometimes I read the garbage on various newsfeeds when I’m bored. I shouldn’t do that for many reasons. Hyperlexic people like me speed read, and are compelled to read anything and everything that’s in print (even though I have become more discerning in later years) which means I still take in a lot more unsavory stuff than most people.

I’m pretty good most of the time at scrolling past fake news and garden variety bullshit that I find offensive, or assorted drivel that just pushes the wrong buttons.

Media consumption is much like food consumption. Some stuff is good for you, but difficult to wade through. Some stuff just plain tastes nasty and will make you sick. Other stuff is ok in moderation. Then there is just plain poison.

Normally I don’t read mushy tales of devoted spouses (mostly because I am pissed at myself for tolerating 20+ years of drunk-n-stupid abusive bullshit from mine) or stories involving joyful motherhood. The birth of my only child was many things, none of them pleasant, with the exception of the fact that somehow by some miracle he came out of it healthy, in one piece and blissfully unscathed. Otherwise my “birth experience” was an exemplary display of Murphy’s law in childbirth, a harrowingly narrow avoidance of maternal mortality due to medical ineptitude, and being brought to the realization that my then husband and male genetic contributor of said offspring is a worthless, contemptuous ass.

Being reminded of that experience is painful.  I should have been able to enjoy my son when he was first born, but instead I was sick, browbeaten and powerless.  It was a horrible feeling. Especially wondering why I survived all the medical errors when technically I should have died- and I survived for what?

For many years I wondered why I didn’t die- my parents would have gotten the son they wanted but never got. One can question God and wonder about His decisions and ponder the moral question of why expendable and broken people with deep scars and missing pieces who still linger about suffering and dying a little more every day, suffering slowly while children and young people with lives worth living just die.  I’m still sucking up valuable oxygen for what it’s worth. I really wonder why.

These things disturb me.

Hindsight is 20/20, and with this in mind, I realize that after all these years it shouldn’t bother me. But it does.

I will freely admit I am jealous of women who have men who support them, men who actually love them and their children.

It pisses me off that when I had the one child I could have that his entire birth and infancy was made a nightmare first by my own health complications and the poor medical care I received, then by my worthless ex and his selfishness and hostility.

I’m sorry but I can’t forget being completely at the end of my strength, barely able to stand, being held together with way too many stitches, crying endlessly, holding my newborn while my ex rages, “How dare you bring that thing in MY house…what the hell are you going to do with it…” and so on.

All I could do was sob uncontrollably, helpless and mired in the deepest despair I’ve ever known. It’s hard to find words to describe this even now after a lifetime of space and time in between. Forgiveness, yes, but healing from such a vicious wound, probably not this side of eternity.

And it still took me two years after that to leave the son of a bitch. He would put up a good front in front of my family. He played the game when people were looking, but behind closed doors I was afraid. And he was downright hostile.

There’s something about being hit when you’re down that sticks with you. There’s also something about reading about perfect husbands who love their wives and kids and actually help with the nightmare during and after childbirth that fans the flames of that resentment, sharpens the sting of that pain, and even stirs up my jealousy toward the “perfect people,” even after almost 30 years.

I have a thick skin and am not easily rattled over most things at my age, but I still should not read those kinds of sickeningly sweet stories. Maybe there are guys like that, and more power to the women who find such gems. I just never personally experienced such bliss.

I should have held out for one of those even had that meant I would have lived alone as a “mother” of only dogs and cats. Then again, the axiom: “hindsight is 20/20” applies.

cat lady.jpg

Cats don’t drink beer, smoke cigarettes, or yank me out of bed by the hair at 11PM so I can prepare food for an ungrateful sot who will pass out before he can eat it, just sayin.

I don’t regret my son’s existence or my granddaughter’s for that matter, but if I had things to do over I would have followed my gut on that hot, hot, stinkingly humid hot day in August of 1990 and said hell no, a million times NO to my ex.  Something in the back of my head was telling me I was insane to marry such a self-absorbed basket case mommy’s boy, and Something was right.

Should have said the same thing to Jerry five years later too, but that is another story.

The wisdom I have to pass along on this front is that it’s probably better to hold out for the highly improbable than to settle for the unacceptable.

Some young women- me included, long ago- fall for a man just because he’s vertical and breathing. That’s not enough. It’s not worth it if he has nothing to bring to the table.

Indifferent_Ren

Granted, I have my sensory, emotional and relational issues, and I am not physically beautiful by any standard, but I still deserve better than moochers, drunks and narcissistic ne’er-do-wells.

And I am better off to hold my standards high, even though it’s too late for me to have a positive experience becoming a mother and raising a child.  Said child is 28 years old with a child of his own.

I have no tolerance for drunk-n-stupid, or of being berated, devalued and used. It took me over 25 years to figure that out, or more accurately, to decide they were wrong and I deserved better.

If anything mine is a cautionary tale. I can’t change the past but I can move forward.

And I can stop reading cheesy clickbait pieces especially when someone is gushing about their perfect man, children, family, etc.

Humor and sarcasm are more appropriate domains for me when I have a hankering for the trite or mundane.

I should try to keep my reading confined to higher pursuits such as Scripture (always timeless,) scientific and historical non-fiction, and selected classics. I gave up the bodice rippers and various other sleazy tomes that would be porn if they were illustrated in high school.

bodice ripper

Sadly, I had quite a collection of said bawdy literature during my freshman year of high school.

The occupational hazards of the hyperlexic…

Maybe I should go and read some Stephen King.  His politics may be dreadful, but his stories are great this time of year.

Still a Hot Mess, Nail Repair on the Fly and Mr. Murphy is Alive and Well…

I’m proud of myself, sorta. I broke off both my index and middle finger nails getting in the car this morning and couldn’t find the pieces to glue back.

Fanfreakingtastic… so I go back in and pack up new plastic tips, the fiberglass roll, scissors, glue, all the nail polishes I used on this full set- that was just completed Friday night. So in about 20 minutes here and there and in between, on the way to work and for a bit once I got here, I removed the last of the broken nails, put on new tips, re-did the fiberglass overlays, ground them down smooth, and painted them using the three different colors, glitter coat and top coat, so now they look like nothing ever happened. It’s good I could remember the color combo and sequence I used Friday. I’ve been doing acrylic nails for the better part of 20 years so I should be able to do it under pressure.

It’s a trivial and venial thing but I can’t stand my nails looking like shit.

Mr. Murphy is alive and well.

Next week I am supposed to go on vacation. I need it…desperately, but it’s hard for me to actually do it.

I don’t like leaving the dogs. Steve-o is going to look in on them as he is one of the few people who can come in the house without having Mr. BooBoo remove body parts. BooBoo only really likes a handful of people. He likes Mom, but he is 80# of dog. He is immaculately well behaved 99% of the time, but the rare behavior malfunction could happen. Steve-o can handle him if he decides to get unruly. Steve-o is also less likely to set off the alarm getting in the house to begin with.

No, he is not a “strange looking Labrador,” a Pitbull, or even a German Shorthaired Pointer. Brutus (aka BooBoo) is a Catahoula Leopard Dog. He is one I think of about -five- in all of Ohio. Strange breed…and the glass eyes take some getting used to, but he has been a most excellent dog. Not as excellent as Clara, but very, very close. Clara was the crown jewel of all Belgian Malinois, which are the very most excellent and intelligent of all dogs. There will never be another like her.

I am thankful that he is intelligent and healthy and just a good dog. A good dog is a priceless thing.  Lucy, of course is herself.

Lucy is queen of the resting bitch face, and of puking in the worst possible places on the hardest things to clean. Brutus loves her and does look after her. It’s not good for dogs to be alone. Especially Lucy, because she is stupid.

Lucy is 8 years old now which is amazing considering all the stupid things she has done. Dogs age so much faster than we do.  It sucks, even for the stupid dogs like Lucy.  She’s still endearing, just not very smart.

A lot has changed in the past three years. Mostly for the better, but I still manage to stay a hot mess. Always some kind of crisis. But life goes on.

Uh, Hell No. Truth is Still Truth. Just Ask the Prophets of B’aal.

Imagine my surprise upon receiving this e-mail:

Pakistan

In a perverse way it is pleasantly refreshing to discover that someone was paying attention to what someone from fly-over country BFE has to say about the abomination that is Islam.  That my obscure, though pithy, observations would arouse the scrutiny and the ire of the Islamic Internet patrol is sort of flattering in a way.  Truth-telling has a way of pissing people off.  I get it.  But it’s still the truth, and still my right and obligation to point it out.

So let’s just pick this attempt at censorship apart with facts.

  1. I am an American, which means the First Amendment applies to me. Pakistani law does NOT apply to me.  I still have the freedom to speak the truth, especially the truth that is Christianity, because that is the one truth that really matters.  If the three Internet subscribers from a third world hole who are sadly deceived into believing in a false god want to attempt to block my free speech, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass.  I am sad for those in Pakistan who need to hear the truth about Islam that their nanny state sees fit to cut them off from the One True God in favor of their idol that cannot save and their governmental system that brings death and destruction to everything it touches. History proves the utter failure and moral bankruptcy of Islamic governance as well as the failure of other fascist states.
  2. My only question regarding that excessive defensiveness, is that if your false god is really true, then why are you so butt-hurt?  I am reminded of when Elijah confronted the false prophets of B’aal. This account is found in 1 Kings 18:20-40, which can be found in the Bible, which is the inerrant word of God.  If your god is real, then he should be able to defend himself against “blasphemy” by “infidels.” Hint: The fate of the prophets of B’aal should stand as a warning.
  3. Everything I said in my post from March 2016 about the false religion of Islam, and how it is really fascism hiding behind an idol, is still 100% true, whether or not someone in Pakistan doesn’t like it. Truth doesn’t change just because it may be unpopular.
  4. Truth is not relative.  Obfuscating, legislating against, or actively opposing the truth does not make it any less true.  Case in point: Even if I would choose to “identify” as Shaquille O’Neal does not make me Shaquille O’Neal, nor does it equip me to substitute for Shaquille O’Neal.  The reality (which is factual and not relative) is, I am 5’4″, female, horribly nearsighted, deathly clumsy, a breathing definition of a WASP (as in White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), and I have absolutely no aptitude or ability to play basketball.

AP SHAQ RETIRES S BKN FILE USA PA

No, I am clearly NOT Shaq.  I like his Icy-Hot commercials though.

It would be nice if verifying truth claims were as simple as observing the clear fact that I am not Shaq, and could not be Shaq even if I claimed to “identify” as Shaq.

I find it most interesting that the “prophet” of Islam advocated spreading that abomination at the end of a sword.  By contrast, the real God-Man, Jesus, taught:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”- Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)

What are the fruits of Islam?  Death, destruction, slavery and oppression.

I am not saying that the history of Christianity has been spotless.  We have had our share of apostasy, exploitation and abuses committed by those claiming the name of Christ.  Yet true Christianity does not teach conversion at the end of a sword.  True Christianity does teach that faith in the One True God comes by hearing (Romans 10:17)- ironically the very thing that the Islamofascists are trying to prevent- and not by force.

If Islam is so great and true, then why is the sword necessary?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scantily Clad Large People, Strange Affections, and Assorted Moral Decrepitude

 

eat assThe things I see while driving to work on US23…

I have been many things in my life, but “prude” is generally not one of them.  I may be modest according to today’s standards, where apparently it’s OK for drag queens to read stories to children while wearing wigs, makeup and a little more than a strip of Saran Wrap over their bits, but I grew up in automotive shops around technicians.  Salty language and plenty of sexual innuendo, I get.  Gender bending, not so much.

Drag-Queen-Story-Hour

Having pervs hang out with kids…again not so much. I probably would have been terrified by Drag Queen Story Hour as a child.  I was terrified of everyone- with the exception of a precious few blood relatives- when I was a child. Then again, I could read for myself.

I sought out quiet corners of the library to read on my own at my own pace, and if anyone even thought of touching me at all, in any kind of way, I would have screamed like a banchee. It was my only defense.  The library was a safe place because it was public, (so my sisters and other kids couldn’t torment me there) quiet, and people left me alone.  As far as I was concerned when I was a child, all touching was bad touching.  I realize not all kids are hypersensitive to physical touch, but any pedophile who would have dared to try anything with me – and they probably would not have been able to get close enough- would have either slit my throat quickly, or dropped and ran quickly because there would have been blood curdling screams.

I know not everyone who likes to do drag is necessarily a perv,  but why confuse kids?  Maybe I am speaking from my own childhood, which was a hot mess to put it mildly- more like the seventh circle of hell from Dante’s Inferno to be more accurate, but I think it’s on the adults to make sure kids have some sort of reason and stability.  It would also be helpful to teach kids critical thinking and logic skills, but maybe that’s too much to ask from the Tide Pod eating generation.

As a parent, it’s not always prudent to trust your kids with other adults. I played hell trusting my son with anyone. My son made it a lot easier in some ways as he was always very outspoken and he is very good at reading people. If he was creeped out by someone then I could be confident that he was usually right.  My default is distrust.  I am not a trusting soul by any stretch.

I am glad that the hottest month of the year is behind me.  July in Ohio brings out the Scantily Clad Large People.

fat man in speedoI don’t know what is worse, fat dudes in Speedos or the Daisy Duke crowd.

I have neighbors around me with pools.  It’s scary.

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry? Yeah, for a Lot of Things- but Not for Being Alive, or for Being Autistic

It’s bloody amazing what people will shame parents for. It’s also scary that the reality of parents being able to screen out and dispose of any less than perfect embryo is quickly coming to pass.

I gotta ask the ethical question: if my parents had known how jacked up I would be mentally and physically would they (should they?) have terminated my life then and there?

Now, I have to state this choice is merely hypothetical in that my parents both come from ultra conservative Christian traditions that are vehemently pro-life.

Abortion, infanticide and genetic selection are concepts that they find to be morally repugnant and on the same level as murder. Even if they had not held that particular view of life and the hand of God in it, in 1968/9 genetic testing, ultrasound and all those technologies were unknown. You got what you got back then. Lucky me. They didn’t have the choice, (wouldn’t have taken it if they did) and were handed a rather dismal result of the genetic crap shoot.

I sort of feel bad for that. I am the third daughter of three for a man who wanted but never got a son, and a defective, sickly one to boot.

So if parents could know (and sooner rather than later the technologies will be in place) if their unborn offspring will be genetically “defective” or anything else they don’t want- wrong hair color or gender or height, the list goes on, how many would rationalize their way to termination?

How many already do? (How many perfectly healthy, normal children are sacrificed on Molech’s altar of “convenience,” but I digress.)

Recently I responded to a discussion on a forum for the autistic community regarding someone commenting to an autistic boy’s mother that she was “sorry” about the child’s autism. I’m sure my Mom’s friends had some of the same remarks to make about me.

They knew I was different and had multiple issues – I know the constant freakouts due to anxiety and the constant doctor visits and trips to physical therapy weren’t fun. They knew I was not and would never be a normal child. No one knew why I was so screwed up, as I wasn’t diagnosed as autistic until I was 35.

Nobody wanted to deal with me when I was a child and I don’t blame them. I was a hot mess of anxiety and insecurity. If I am sorry for anyone I feel sorry for them- my parents, teachers and health professionals who were clueless but had to deal with me- terrified and sickly as I was- anyway.

I had to think about what to say from the other side, from the perspective of that child who lives life as the deer in the headlights.

This is what I replied in the forum:

I’m autistic and have lived with it for 50 years. I don’t know anything else. I have always had a profound and deep anxiety and vulnerability because the rest of the world knows I am wired differently and I don’t respond or interact in a predictable manner. To make it worse, in the 1970s and 80s when I was growing up there were scarce health or educational resources for people like me. I am hyperlexic and was advanced in reading and academics, but was hopelessly socially inept. I have very profound gross motor deficits which made me an easy target for verbal and physical abuse- first by my older sisters and their friends, then by the kids at school. Teachers did not want me in their classes because they didn’t know what to do with me. I hid in books and music and did what I needed to do to get good grades and stay under the radar.
My parents imposed strict standards of conduct and behavior with the thought that if I looked normal and acted normal I would be normal. I learned to script and act, especially after being backhanded not once for “staring” or for “not giving so and so friend or obscure relative of Mom’s” a hug. Mom meant well, but the forced interactions only turned up the volume on my distaste for physical contact. Eye contact is still uncomfortable for me and the whole concept of body language is simply vexing. I still struggle to read people.
I have been gainfully employed since age 16. I have a business degree and have been a parts manager, and a fixed operations manager in various car dealerships. By age 30 I had serious health issues due to anxiety: uncontrollable high blood pressure (still takes high doses of 6 meds every day to control) and severe panic attacks. At age 35 I was finally diagnosed as a high functioning autistic and got proper treatment for the anxiety and depression and panic attacks. These issues do not “go away.” Meds help (Prozac and Catapres) but it’s management, not a “cure.”
All this being said, I would not wish my wiring and all the physical and mental health issues that go with it on anyone. Even so, I cannot imagine being any other way. My particular manifestation of autism is a double edged sword. I see and experience the world in ways others don’t and can’t understand, but I miss much and can’t experience the world like the “normals” do. I thank God my son (age 28) is neurotypical and that he doesn’t have anxiety or the motor and visual deficits I have. He sees the world in a way I can’t. This being said, I have still had and continue to have a full and accomplished life by the grace and mercy of God. I am not sorry for the way I was made even with its disadvantages and challenges.

I still have to ask a valid question (again playing devil’s advocate.) Is my life worth the aggravation I imposed on others?

That’s the question at the heart of eugenics. Which people are worth the investment of resources and which aren’t?

If the traditional Christian teaching that the humanity and worth of an individual begins at conception is edged out by the rationalizations of the various Molech worshippers- whether the altar is one of convenience or of genetic imperfection, then whose lives are valuable and whose are not?

Is my life less valuable because of the way I am wired, or even because of the fresh hell it has to be to try to raise an autistic child?

It’s already considered “acceptable” among many to abort children with Down’s Syndrome because it can be identified via genetic testing. In some countries almost all Down’s children are aborted, even though people with Down’s can live happy, fulfilling and productive lives.

Either we believe that life is sacred even when it is imperfect or frightening or inconvenient or we risk losing our humanity.

The reality is that the human condition includes suffering. Not that we should strive to cause more, but that our attitude should be that people’s lives are worth the aggravation and worth the investment.

Today it’s seen as a travesty if a child is conceived at an inopportune time, or if he or she is the wrong gender or he or she has certain genetic faults.

Where did we get the hubris to think we were in charge of the process?

I’m not sorry to be alive. I’m not sorry I’m autistic. I am sorry that the world is coming to such a pragmatic and utilitarian place that we fail to value life even in its more challenging forms.