Friday May 18, 2018 changed me.
I can't say I've ever had a panic attack. Not a real one. I know many people who have and I've heard it described and I've read about it in medical textbooks.
I understand it is an overwhelming sense of doom. Now I know.
Friday, upon opening my phone to the headline news flash about Santa Fe High School, I believe I had a panic attack. I found myself breathing rapidly, heart pounding and I was weeping uncontrollably.
Had a school shooter just killed many children in a school very close to my home? Was I dreaming?
I was shocked as I tore through the news as fast as I could through my tears.
My first instinct was to call my friend whose boy attends that school and when I heard her voice and her reassurance that she was with her son, I felt relief.
And then I realized that there were many, many families who were not okay and whose children would not be coming home from school and the emotions overwhelmed me again. I needed to call someone and my husband was airborne, unable to answer his phone. I called my mother repeatedly but couldn't get through.
Finally, I started talking to myself. It didn't help so I started the cycle of calling people again until I got through to my Mom who consoled me and reassured me and made me feel better (Mom's can do that). Fortunately, my friends arrived for our Empowered Women’s Circle Leader’s Lunch that we have every Friday and I take great comfort in being with these like-minded, heart-centered women. Today I needed them most and they really came through for me (they always do).
It's easy to get emotional and lay blame when something so devastating happens in our country. And from my perspective, it's also easy to feel, very deeply, the pain that the children of our world are living with every day.
It makes the work of empowering women and providing them a hand so they can be leaders and role models in their homes so much more important.
Women are the future.
Healthy, adult, resourced women innately understand non-violent conflict resolution, compassion and a sense of social justice. It is through feminine characteristics of connection, empathy and love that women create space for processing emotions, taming fears and extending hugs. Women run their households, raise their children and provide leadership at work. Men do too but only when they can tap into their healthy feminine side. And women need order, structure, strength and achievement-focused goals drawn from the masculine in all of us.
The world is changing and we, as powerful women, need to realize our essential role in shifting the tide. And not just for our children (the ones who live in our homes) but for ALL children. And for all adults who were once children.
When people feel alone, hopeless, isolated and unable to reach out for help it's everyone's problem.
When children take guns and kill their friends because they are so angry they feel trapped and out of options, the consequences belong to all of us.
Hanging this tragedy on one lonely, isolated, angry young man, (or 22 “shooters” around the country in the first 5 months of 2018), will do nothing to quell the emergence of this new way to shock and awe.
These adolescents are likely mentally unhealthy (as are 1 in 5 of us), they likely have access to "legal" firearms (as do over a third of U.S. children with 30-50% of households registering firearms and most of those homes have children in them), they are often socially difficult (but aren't we all at that age?). Blaming the mental illness, the weapons, the bullying or isolation would be short sighted.
What we need to do is to see the children themselves. They are seeking to be seen. They are begging to be heard. They feel scared and abandoned.
Remember Columbine? Remember Virginia Tech? Remember Sandy Hook? Remember Parkland? Our neighborhood has just been added to this list.
Remember Santa Fe?
It's come knocking - the world needs a mother. And that mother needs a village. And that village is you.