Tomorrow is garbage and recycling day around these parts which means I’ve been scurrying about, collecting all the recycling that arrives via the USPS and trips to varied shopping places. Every two weeks I trundle my big blue box on wheels out to my alley and hope. I hope that all those numbers encircled with an arrowed triangle get “reduced, reused, and recycled”. But I know that it is an inexact science, this hope of mine. It is better today than it once was, but it is still not perfect.
Because reducing, reusing and recycling is not enough to break chains.
As I scrubbed out the old peanut butter tub and thought about if I had another need for it in my house (buttons? maybe the Borax?) I automatically checked the bottom for the code. Of course it is a 1, after all, it is a “necked bottle”. Which led me to wonder why the heck isn’t everything made out of the magical stuff that 1s and 2s are? My guess is it comes down to money.
Recycling ain’t cheap folks.
It isn’t cheap because it requires intention and time and dedication.
But these days an entire generation thinks nothing of using the recycling bin instead of just the garbage bin. So there is that. But have we really taught them the most important lesson?
And that lesson is this: There is no away.
Every time you say, please throw “x” away, you really mean, please put this in the receptacle which will send our garbage over to someone else. In my local area, our “garbage” gets thrown away to a far poorer community hundreds of miles away. In other words, there is a smaller community who looked at its space and decided that taking another community’s garbage was worth the money they would receive for it.
So what is your price? Because you have one. What price are you willing to take to receive someone’s garbage?
In a vaguely related way, my pondering of literal garbage coincided with my regular struggle with depression and got me thinking about a dear lady who last night read a handful of my words and then sent me a private message. “You ok?” And soon, another wonderful lady sent me a message that included bits of her struggle with depression.
Standing in my kitchen, reveling in the rare blue sky of this wet, wet, wet spring, I scrubbed round and round that peanut butter jar. The soap and water was slippery against the grainy residue of peanut butter. And I was reminded there is no away. Not for our physical garbage and not for our emotional garbage either.
There are three people in this world who bear the marks of my struggle with PTSD (post-tramautic stress disorder) and PPD (postpartum depression). They bear physical marks in their very genetic make-up and they bear the emotional marks from growing up with a mother who cycles through depression and unhealthy coping skills. These marks, while not given hatefully or willfully like the marks from cigarette burns and whippings, are marks nevertheless. PTSD and PPD changed the chemical makeup of me and that was passed along to my children just as assuredly as I passed along my genetic code for height and eye color.
I am very intentionally not an abusive parent. I have never touched my children in anger. But I have yelled at them, raising my voice against the rage that is always with me, struggling to get away from me.
My “away” is with my children. And while abuse and depression survivors struggle valiantly and daily to break every cycle, we are changed by that struggle. There is no way of knowing who we might have become instead of who we did become.
It is a struggle to “reduce” and not “reuse” or “recycle” our emotional garbage. Because our emotional garbage, even when reduced, is recycled upon the next generation.
Because there is no away. And the cost of recycling all my pain upon my children is a steep one, and one they have no choice in paying.
But there is love and compassion and forgiveness. And words of kindness, cuddling hugs on the couch, s’mores in front of the fireplace and always, always telling my sweet babies how much I love them and thank them for giving me a reason to keep struggling.
I thank them. And I beg them for forgiveness.