Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Dump

Something that has happened on a regular basis in my life is what I have as of this weekend decided to refer to as "The Dump". It is not what you might expect. The Dump is when a person, an acquaintance, without warning or cause, spews their life story to me. Now, if the stories were of easy subjects or simple light topics I might simply move on without comment. If the stories were the normal sort that people tell every day to each other, it would not be a blog post it would be well, nothing. Irrelevant. That is not what happens. For some reason, and I really don't know what it is, people I have just met or people I barely know, have a tendency to blurt out the ugliness in their lives, the true horrors of their personal histories, the abuses they have survived, and sail them straight to me. Once the person has started it is unrelenting. They purge and purge until they are done or a fire alarm goes off.

This is not at work that I am talking about. This is out in public on any ordinary day. Regular folks in their natural habitats.

I do not know why this happens. Some people have, after dumping, commented that I was the "only person who didn't ____". As in, the only person who didn't say, that is gross. Or say, well you deserved that. Or you didn't judge me. or didn't condemn me. Or you are the only person who didn't look at me differently after I told you. So I don't know. I don't know what inspires a person to just, splat, tell the horrors of their lives to me in the line at the grocery store. Or in between their turns shooting pool. Or waiting for our kids at the bus stop. It just happens and it has happened a lot. And mostly I stand there and listen. This is outside of any job I might have at the time.

You used to work in the family restaurant when you were 7 until your hands bled and the pain was devastating but they still made you do the work.

Your "friends" in high school had a sex club and forced you in and you had to be hospitalized for over a month.

You set a house on fire when you were a teenager and now you are a felon and can't vote.

You had an abortion 8 years ago but don't tell your husband of 10 years because he would be really mad if he ever found out.

So this weekend it happened again. I got a phone call from a neighbor who's kids go to my kids school. Just a little chatty call out of nowhere that within a few minutes disintegrated into a story of her recent suicide attempts, psych hospitals and in-patient stays, violence and physical abuse. Of anorexia, of mental tormentors, of divorce and vicious ex husbands. Of alienation from her mother. Of her mothers partner, who sexually abused her children, my child's schoolmates, and who she screamed at in court when testifying. Really screamed at him! Then she says, I can't tell what you're thinking, you have to be thinking I'm crazy right, well I am not I swear.


So I have all this rattling around my head. And I know my kid wants to go over there to play with her kids. And so I am thinking, well at least I know the score. I guess they might not be as shocked as I thought if Genea has a meltdown and crawls under their furniture barking like a dog. Or if she pee's on their carpet. Or whatever. Sounds like the mom is reasonably stable now. Sort of. Just now I know to pay attention.

Then I thought, oh hell. Kids who have survived sexual abuse have been known to turn around and perp on other kids. And oh my unholy hell, my kid is ripe and ready for that particular violation. I know that Genea is the kid that fits the profile. So that worries me. A lot.

Okay, but I know. Most of the time, I wouldn't know. I would have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of anyone elses family. Whether they say goodnight like the Waltons, or whether they.... don't.

I had several close friends growing up, one in particular who my mom adored, while in middle school. She used to stay at our house, and I would stay at hers. Her mom had died when she was little so her Dad was her only parent. Yeah, and it turned out after he murdered his girlfriend that he had also killed his wife all those years ago. Not much you can do to predict and protect from that sort of thing.

See normally when The Dump comes out, usually up until the past few years I would not really care. That is to say, it didn't bother me whatever I had learned. It just became a part of the person, who I may or may not ever see again. None of it really affected me. But now, the stakes are totally changed. Totally higher. Now I have to seriously consider every word. Every. Single. Word.


  1. I have a ..... well, not quite similar situation... but a little bit similar in that, I have the information to know that, in a certain situation, THERE ARE RED FLAGS HERE. And, this situation regards Anastasia, also a perfect little victim. So....I've found myself sometimes almost wishing that I didn't have the level of knowledge I have, wishing I didn't recognize those red flags.

    I rather sense this in you, too. But, I decided that hard as it is, there is a REASON that I have learned these particular things about human behavior just SO I could protect my daughter. However, clumsy, embarrassing, annoying and difficult it is.

    So, perhaps God has blessed you with this knowledge. I expect you are easy to talk to. Also, knowledgeable. Maybe this was all put together in such a way as to enable you to protect Genea. Maybe over-protecting is protecting as though there were red flags when there aren't any. In this case they are flapping in the wind, and I'd protect for all I was worth. While trying to be kind, polite, etc.....even unto offense, if necessary.

  2. People always feel the need to open up to me too. My husband always laughs at me and says I must have a friendly face or something. But ya, I'd agree with Annie and just say use those red flags and protect her. Even if she doesn't need protected... better safe than sorry.

  3. Essie, you would make a good ob/gyn! Seriously! You wouldn't believe the stuff people tell me. I guess because I can listen without being judgemental, or maybe it's the confidentiality thing. But, I swear NOTHING shocks me anymore.

    And, I too would use that knowledge to protect my kid.

  4. This always astounds me too. Granted since our lives are very limited right now it doesn't happen as often but still...

    I'd protect too. Always better safe than sorry....

  5. yeah I definately know too much. I sometimes think, it must be so nice to go around without knowing quite so much about child abuse and mental illness.
    I dunno, awkward is right.

  6. Wow, Essie, that's really heavy. And awkward or not, I would not let my child play there any more. Her children would be welcome at my house, but not vice-versa. It's not rude, it's protecting your child.

    As far as this woman opening up to you (and many others on the street for that matter), she probably senses some level of understanding in you and trusts you, even if you're not her BFF. And she probably has to talk to someone.

    But, still, Wow!

  7. I could repeat everything your other comments say because I agree totally. But I won't. I'd have to say there is a reason for this and use it to protect your child. Does it feel like a burden to you at all? I hope not.


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