Today has been a bit of a downer in that I somehow (almost) effectively toppled a very bad man from his self-made throne of deception and abuse, yet …. the fireworks and cheers were replaced with sighs and questions.
I don't want a parade.
But I also don't want a guilt trip.
Everywhere I went, on social media or in email, people sent messages about the man's family. “Oh, I am so sad for his wife” “I'm worried about his kids.” “I hear his daughter has received 'hate' mail.” “I wonder if the stress will flare up her illness.” "She is taking this so hard." All.day.long.
It's hard for a people-pleaser to be a person-toppler. I didn't want to topple that man. I mean, I would have preferred him be a super awesome dorm dad who takes care of the kids entrusted to him. I would have hoped to go on with my peaceful life creatively homeschooling our four kids on a Gulf Coast riverbank. I would have liked to focus on college scholarships or on my kind-of-neglected-lately other blog.
Besides, I don't hate him. I don't know why I don't, actually. I've wondered if I'm broken in some psycho-therapy way, or if I'm stifling rage, or…maybe it's just not easy for me to dislike someone.
Of course, I don't want him near children ever again ever, and he had better not come near mine or mama will go redneck crazy, but I don't really want him to be tortured or anything, and I really do care about his beautiful family; in fact, they're entirely the reason I stayed silent for over two decades. I am sorry they're hurting and I'm sorry I've been unfriended on Facebook and I'm sorry someone might have health problems from the stress, but …
I can't let your words get into my head. I have to help the starfish. They're on the beach by the dozens…hundreds. Sure, they're broken, and well, yeah, there isn't a lot of hope. They're a mess! One is drunk all the time; one writes God like …god (he used to be a missionary). One works to forget. One seeks a new religion. One cusses at the kids. One keeps getting divorced. One can't make friends. One is so bitter he can't see anything good. One has nightmares…nightly. We all have broken pieces.
We'll never be whole again.
I know, you don't have to tell me, I can't save them all. I don't even know if I can save my own starfish. But what does it hurt me to try? It takes only a little bit of energy to pick up each starfish, tossing it into the sea. Sure, most will probably wash ashore again – they're not ready to swim yet – but isn't it worth a try, even if only one starfish can be saved?
I can't make much difference.
But I can make a difference.
And to that one, I made all the difference.
You go ahead and worry about the seagulls, if you want to. I think they're going to be just fine. I'll be taking care of the starfish.
Photos by Lori Seaborg, April 2, 2014, Orange Beach, Alabama