Friday, March 2, 2012

Blowing Your Own Horn

           Rules. Where do they all come from? Who got to make them up? Oh, I know they were intended to protect me—keep me safe, but now some of them need to be modified, maybe even abandoned.
            I realize that “don’t brag” was a useful rule That was obvious. When Johnny M. walked by, he was followed by the whispers. “Braggart, too big for his own britches." "Always blowing his own horn.” So I took a back seat. I knew what was said about girls who were uppity. “She’s so stuck up.” “Who does she think she is?” Everywhere I went there was someone to remind me to “Be a lady” "Don't blow your own horn." One rule after the other, and so I kept quiet about any accomplishment, went out of my way to be insignificant—ordinary.
            And now I question the value of those rules and need to modify them. Everyone has a “horn”—that manner in which we communicate about ourselves. If we don’t blow it, who will? Who can? It’s merely a matter of degree, of style. If I blow mine too loudly and too long, people might whisper, or turn away. If I never make a peep, no one will know about me. So the secret is not just to be discreet, but also to blow my horn in an authentic way, in my own style. Then people might listen and perhaps even share my melody. (Or am I taking this metaphor too far?)
            I’m writing all of this for myself, for I have a feeling you’ve already figured this all out. I’m still working on it. I’ve discovered I like to be acknowledged for my work. (I love to read your emails and comments. Thank you so much.) However, when it begins to sound like praise, I get uncomfortable. In some mysterious way I’m breaking the “rule,” the one about blowing my own horn, and fear some terrible retribution is due me.
            It’s time for me to grow up and modify that rule, toss it out the window. So I am girding my loins (whatever those are) and taking a deep breath.
            Attention to you out there, I’ve written a book about my son Bill’s death which will soon be ready for release. It’s called Suicide: Living With the Question. When an older person dies, we grieve, but knowing it was time for them to go comforts our sorrow.  When a younger person dies, the universe loses all credibility and the old orders seem to crumble.  To have that person die by his or her own hand is bizarre, beyond our understanding. The pain is excruciating.  There is no format for dealing with such an issue, and the mourners left behind feel not only their pain and grief, but also guilt and abandonment.  The rules have been broken.  Questions are in everyone’s eyes.  Denial and secrecy become the new mode, acid added to the open wound of grief, and a code of silence is begun. For each individual left behind, the suicide is devastating. And the attitudes and lack of understanding in society add salt to the wound. Suicide: Living With The Question offers hope to others, a small ray of light to penetrate the dark shroud of pain that covers the subject of suicide.
I’ll let you know when it’s available and how you can get it. I will greatly appreciate your doing what you can to promote this book.
There, I did it and I lived. I’m listening for the whispers and so far the Universe has not struck me dumb, not even touched me. I’m tempted now to blow my own horn about my new ability to blow my own horn, but I’ve a feeling I’ve taken this as far as it can go.

1 comment:

  1. Takes a brave person to write your book and this post and a brave person to read them and engage with this incredibly difficult subject. I've never had the opportunity to really come to terms with my cousin Bill's death, so I am really looking forward to reading it. Guess I've never gotten fully "over" the death of my brother Danny, and I guess I may never get 'over" it, whatever "over" is. Our community was rocked by the suicide of the son of close friends right before Christmas. The outpouring of support was overwhelming, but there comes a point where we don't know what else we can do. Let me know as soon as the book is available, because I will order at least 2 copies, one for me and one for my friends. I'd also like to promote it on my website, so you and I can have a conversation about that when the time comes. Love you Ruth!