Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Winning

I stayed home today and gave work a miss. I sat in bed with a deliciously hot cup of tea with lemon, my comforters around me and my book of short stories that was gifted to me because the cover of it said "New Stories about Cops, Criminals, and the Chase." and my father was like "HEY, THIS IS FOR YOU", referring to its connection to my work.

 And it is a great book. Compiled by Michael Connelly, how could it not be? For one, it makes you think. One of the short stories involves a female officer who, on undercover duty, was raped, and her husband's inability to deal with the consequences. Right after the incident she tried to explain to him what happened  while protecting him from all the details, "I was lucky to get his gun away from him when I did, but the point was to come out alive."

 What touches me is how regardless of it being her who was attacked, her instinct is to protect him, to support and help him cope with the incident, she views herself the officer who must break the news to the husband of the victim, all the while his wife.

 The moment that strikes me most, is in a fit of anger he throws down a glass of juice, and it shattering in a million pieces. She reacts calmly and practically, "Am I supposed to clean that up?".

 "I'm not angry at you, I'm angry at him. I'm angry at everything else. I'm angry because I'm a human being. What I can't figure out is you. How can you be so damn calm about all this?"

 "You think I'm calm inside? You think my mind is peaceful today? You have no idea. It's because of what's inside me that I don't have the energy for outbursts. I don't have the luxury of a temper tantrum. What you're going through is natural, but it's not about me."

 "Damn it. Don't you see...he's getting away with it. He did this to you, and nothing's happening. He's winning."

 And she sits herself right down, cross-legged on the kitchen floor, next to him in his anguish. This is the part that clicked the light on in my head:

  "You and me, we've got different ideas about winning. You think the only way to walk out of a fight a winner is to beat the other man down. That's how men talk about fighting, right? Only a loser runs away. It's not like that for us. We win by getting away. We win by staying alive."

 There are a number of reasons why this particularly touched me. You read an excerpt and you relate. I am one of those people who relate to pretty much everything; songs, a scene in a movie, just one line, a story. It doesn't matter if it's the crappiest movie ever, or the cheesiest song, sometimes all it takes is just one line, one scene that just hits me with the revelation that it (the line or scene, or whatever it is) belongs to me.

The ability to experience is something that is so personal, and yet the amazing capability of humankind to share the same experiences - when the lines cross, or the frequencies match, that moment awes me. This is the reason why friendships are made, and also why people fall in love. The amazing sensation of finding something that fits so well with your personal conception of who you are. Being bowled over with the realization that "Hey, someone understands me." and you never want to let them go.

I think this would account for the strength of the bond between the characters in the book as well. Because he can't cope. He struggles to find some sort of closure, and despite her attempt to make him understand, she understands why he doesn't. When he finally does what he ends up doing, despite it being wrong, she's ready to protect him even beyond protecting herself.

Why do I relate? There are probably more reasons than I can begin to explain. There are levels beyond what I am able to understand myself. Various levels of the subconscious that make me who I am, who I think I am and also those levels that I am not aware of as yet, as I am yet to discover as I continue to grow, emotionally and mentally.

Strength. Her amazing ability to put aside her own suffering and to face the new day because that is what she must do. Her ability to accept that it happened and focusing on the negatives of the experience does no good. To move on and beyond the past and be ready to do what she can with the present.

One of my personal experiences was very similar to this. While I survived with my honour and physical well-being intact, I can tell you that it affected me. Of course it did. When you come so close to losing a part of yourself that you never expected - of course you will be affected. When faced with the possibility of being hurt and most likely worse, there were several primitive instincts that surfaced in my mind.

First was of course to flee. That not being so easily feasible, the next was to fight. Fear dissipated from my mind and all I could feel was a sense of loathing, incredulous and angry that someone would even dare try to hurt me.  So I fought.

I fought so I was the one standing, I fought so that he was the one who ran away. I fought for the sake of survival, and for my own sense of dignity. And I lived to be glad that I chose to fight.

Courage. She put aside her own right to wallowing in anguish to be strong for her husband. There are a number of flashbacks in the story which show the bond between them. The love and tenderness, the reflex to protect him and make him, not just understand, but happy, in a manner of speaking, these are instincts that again I relate to.

And the overall message, of how so often we dwell on the negatives, and think about the difficulties and hardships we have to face in moving on with life from certain circumstances, when we lose sight on the fact that we're able to move through and get out alive.

She got out alive, and she did this with the belief that something was worth living. She looked to not the next hour when she'd be held in the hospital for critical care, nor the next few days, when investigations and interviews and criminal proceedings would throw the issue in her face over and over, nor the days facing the grief and distress and the strange distance between herself and her husband. Because she had faith that their love was stronger than it all, even if it took weeks, that was a life that meant that whatever else happened, there was a reason to move on.

While some of us don't have that much to give us the faith to go on, we need to be reminded that every time we want to give up, to stop fighting, every time we choose not to drown and try our best to hold our head high above the waves, the closer we get to the shores where one day, the fight will be worth it all.


12 comments:

  1. this has to be my favorite post so far ... strangely enuff i can relate to both sides .. so i don't know if it has to do with a feminine vs masculine side as much as it has to do with society's view of what a masculine reaction should be and what a feminine reaction should be.

    why is this my favorite post - well - it tells me how powerful our gut feelings and instincts and the vibes we sense in others really are .. a strange nick in a strange spice room sending me strange glares ( conversely a strange guest nick in a strange spice room sending you strange winks).. that's all i (and you) had .. somehow both of us decided we could be friends :D

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    1. Yes, I don't think it is strange to relate to both sides, because so do I. I have an innate fierce protective instinct - I'd want to punish anyone who DARED hurt anyone I care for. On the other hand, my priority is to ensure the person I do care for is cared for, that their well-being is tended to, etc. I think this goes for almost anyone. However, in this scenario I don't think society's view factors in exactly - it's goes down much more to a micro level sociologically speaking, and especially factoring biology. Our hormones vary gender-specifically and as such, so do our reactions to external stimuli. It's difficult to draw a line between what is feminine and masculine. I think in this case, the contention between reactions being gender specific is beside the point.

      YOUR point however, is one I agree to - vibes. So often, I am unable to explain things because of how much they just come down to the inexplicable magic of vibes. BTW what exactly is strange about a glare :P

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    2. umm .. whatever is strange about a wink from an unknown nick is the same thing that is strange about a glare from an unknown nick in response to the abovementioned wink :L

      crappy sentence construction but u get the point

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    3. Well the wink is strange because it's unaccounted for in the strange meeting of two strangers (well to me), glares are accountable when they're given out for wrong assumptions (ie. alfredO) :P Because a glare between strangers AFTER the wrong assumption is somewhat normal...whereas a wink from a stranger is just strange... LOL

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  2. kudos for a perfect post.
    enjoy your day off.

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    1. Thank you, Mr. Former Future President.

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  3. Just when you feel like you're isolated into a separate world of feelings, you start finding mutual feelings from the most unexpected places, for example from "the crappiest movies, or the cheesiest songs". But somehow you manage to relate to surprising things like that...
    I really liked this post, and the way you twisted your own experiences into the situations of the women in the novel.

    And also, seems like an interesting book =]

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    1. Yes :D and it's called the Blue Religion (Connelly)...it's just a bunch of short stories written by a number of different authors, compiled by Connelly. He's one of my favourite authors, and crime fiction is one of my absolute favourite genres. =]

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  4. Wow , that was awesome.
    Nicely written.
    And that novel is just great.

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  5. Hmmm :) You leave me speechless after every post.
    Sorry, I don't know what to say.. but I'm glad you fought it through and I'm glad to have met someone like you IQ. And yes, I think all the females can relate to that line someway or another. & that kinda gives me a sense of awe, thinking how similar we all are to one another.

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    1. :D You don't have to say a lot, sometimes very little says it perfectly (re: above comment by Bulb). Thank you though, for being affected by my words so much you're rendered speechless - that's amazing appreciation right there hehe :D and I'm glad to have met you also baybay.

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