Like many, my heart has been wrenched by the shootings in Connecticut.

My mind has been struggling to make sense of it all - why did this happen?

There are so many people who are affected by what transpired at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
There are families who have been ripped apart, first responders and survivors who have to live with the horrors and images and the guilt of having survived.
Then there is a nation and a world that is shocked.

There are literally millions of people asking the question "Why?"

From everything I have read, 20-year-old Adam Peter Lanza, was a troubled young man.

He had a demanding mother, he was socially awkward, he was described by many as repressed, not connected. There are many speculating as to why that is. Reports are circulating that Adam was autistic, I suppose at some point we will learn more about this broken soul, in the meantime, I have some thoughts on this subject and it is my hopes that I can relieve my heartache some and maybe yours by sharing some conversation.

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child.

Bullying happens not just at school, but at home too.

I was a child who was bullied by her mother.  My mother had very high expectations and zero patience. She was an alcoholic who liked no one, not even herself and pushed everyone who loved her, away.

Until the age of 12 my father was my hero, my knight in shining armour, my saviour. He used to take us kids out ski-dooing and tobogganing, for Sunday drives. When I hit 12, things changed - my father became my worst nightmare.

So here I was, with a mother who liked to beat on me physically and mentally, who spoke the cruelest of words and had no tolerance for mistakes or tardiness on one side of me, and a father who treated me like a wife - physically and mentally. No one was protecting me, I was a pawn in my parent's chess game.

In school, I was socially awkward, I had all of these horrible secrets living inside of me.
I felt dirty, unlovable, broken.

No one at school asked me any questions or reached out to me. Not even those I looked to for friendship. In fact, I was bullied and taunted by the "cool" people and even those I called friend, people who did things to me no human being should have to suffer.

Our parish priest never reached out, neither did my teachers.

I had to look after my two brothers and my sister, I cooked the family meals, did the majority of the housework and began working at a very early age to get out of the house.
Work became my salvation for many reasons - it helped me to see that other people lived differently - that things could be different.

At 17, I was on nerve pills and tranquillizers, there was a painful battle going on in my mind, I was so tormented, I wanted to save me and I wanted to help my siblings, but I felt powerless.  My doctors never asked why I was such a bundle of nerves - no one it seemed cared enough to ask.

Through lots of counselling and self exploration, I have come to a place of peace with all of those terrible things that people did to me. I have come to understand that the people who hurt me, were themselves hurt and broken. Too often the victim becomes the victimizer.
We become what we are taught.

Do I understand what motivated Ryan Lanza? In some ways, I believe I might.

You see, many times as a young woman I wanted to kill my mother - I wanted to kill my father - I  wanted to kill myself, I wanted the pain to stop, I wanted to quit feeling powerless.
I wanted someone to love me, to fix me so I could be loveable.

And so today, I think to myself, there but for the grace of God go I.  

My daughter once asked me how I became as "normal" as I am - this after a particularly brutal experience with my mother....

I told her that - "You never came with an instruction manual, and I was brought up being taught the wrong messages. All I could do as I raised you my girl, was to do something different than what had been done to me and to be honest with you when I felt I was wrong regarding my conduct and actions towards you."

Our systems in North America are broken, they always have been - they have been flawed right from the beginning if you ask me. We do not teach our children the real tools to living successfully.

We do not teach them that their thoughts are powerful, we do not teach them how to be of service to each other.

We have been taught and encouraged, to be selfish.
We have been taught to stay small in our thinking and our capacity to care - to be empathetic.
We have been encouraged to be self indulgent and self involved.

We give everything a label, we focus on illness and lack - the poor me syndrome abounds.
We wear dis- ease like an excuse to not expect better of ourselves - we have become martyrs to our circumstances and our feelings.

We fight against everything we dislike instead of working towards what we want.
We focus on the bad - more often than not.
And as a result the war on terror brings more terror, the war on drugs brings more drugs.

Thoughts are powerful things.  
Look around you, everything you see started with a thought, from the lightbulb that lights your room to the fan that cools you, someone had to think about the creation before it came to be.

Over the years there have been many great teachers who have imparted information on how to live a full, rewarding and abundant life.

The message is delivered differently but it is always the same:

"All that we are is a result of what we have thought." Buddha (563 BCE-483 BCE)

"What you resist persists". Carl Jung (1875-1961)

"The vibrations of mental forces are the finest and consequently the most powerful in existence".
Charles Haanel (1866-1949)

"Every thought of yours is a real thing - a force". Prentice Mulford (1834-1891)

Thoughts become things". Mike Dooley

”Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”

”Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

How many of you are too busy earning a living and the toys you want to spend time with your children, guiding them, loving them - being patient - teaching and leading by example?

When was the last time you did something for someone just because you could, with no strings attached - no expectation of anything in return?

When was the last time you met someone who looked uncomfortable, sad, broken and you reached out your hand in empathy and caring to support them, to find out about them, to be kind to them?

I will never know how different my life could have been had someone, anyone reached out to me  - but I do know this - over the course of my life, whether they knew it or not, there have been people who shared the smallest tidbits of wisdom that somehow penetrated the cement that was building around my heart and mind - that created cracks in the fortress of protection I was building, that allowed me to see a different way...

This is the credo that has become my life...

“Each time I perform an act of kindness, a part of me heals.”
― Lupi Ngcayisa
Taking away guns is never going to stop tragedies like this one in Connecticut from happening. Punishing the many for the sins/crimes of the few NEVER works.
Just look around you and you know it is so.

So how do we heal hearts and minds and change things?

By becoming invested in being the change we want to see in the world.

If you want to see more love, you have to give it.
If you want to see more patience you have to give it.
If you want to see peace, you have to act from a place of peace.
If you want to see more kindness, you have to extend it.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.  Luke 6:31


In the wise words of Mother Theresa:
“The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family.”

And that's where my heart is today.

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider

Post a Comment

  1. Anonymous1:24 PM

    With all due respect BDB, I couldn't give a damn about this individual. Every story i have read so far mentions this killers name, but I have seen very little on the ones that were killed. In history we always remember the killers but never the victims, can anyone name Jack the Rippers victims, the Montreal massacre, Columbine, and the list goes on.

  2. While I do not disagree with you that we need to hold the names of those lost in our hearts and minds - the young man who took these lives and his relationship with his family are poster children for what is wrong with this world and if WE don't start looking in the mirror at ourselves and start evaluating how we do things we are doomed as a society.

    This was not an expose on the perpetrator - it is an expose on how to change things - or, did you like most people only read so far and decide you knew where I was going with this? BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.

  3. Anonymous2:08 PM

    Yes, I did read the whole thing.

  4. The names of those lost will forever be etched in the hearts who knew them...
    Our jobs from here on in are to do a better job at home loving our children - leading by example, being the change we want to see in the world. And that is as it should be.

    We as a society need to remember the names of the murders - to really look hard at how we do things and how easily apathy destroys - even the good, especially the good.

    Those who do hateful things are a reflection of what we as a society are doing wrong - a reflection we don't like looking at.

    We always want someone else to fix things when really all we have to do is better at home.

    We complain, whine an snivel about society and how it's gone so off track - but you and I are both part of the society - that IS OFF the track - missing the mark. Kids are lazy, customer service is non existent...why? These are the children society has raised - and you are part of society. We try to find someone else to blame, because taking the burden of responsibility on, is painful

    The whole point of my article was to prove that with love, empathy and compassion in our own lives, directed at ourselves and the people around us, our families - life can be better. It is about those of us who have the ability but lack the will in holding ourselves accountable to do better, be better.

    People with mental illnesses - too often fall through the cracks and are often taken advantage of, hurt in unimaginable ways. They have no coping skills - they just want the pain to stop. And to often, people who see the abuse, witness the demeaning ways these broken people are treated do nothing. The neighbours to these people are a prime example of what I am talking about - the ones who suspected something did nothing and the rest were to busy to notice or care. I watched at least 10 videos and their responses are so - unfeeling.

    When put in environments that are loving, supportive, patient - people with mental illness tend to become more child like - more joyful and more productive, happier and more content.

    Bullying at home, by all accounts is largely responsible for the rage, the pain, the anger the man who took 28 lives bore.

    We need to remember the gunman. We need to face that monster called apathy straight in the face and determine to be involved, empathetic - we need to be the change we want to see by embracing our responsibility to ourselves, our children.

    As proven by the Mountain of Canadian Tire I have on my desk - when each of us does a little - amazing things happen.

  5. Anonymous7:14 PM

    I respect what you are saying Renee, and you know who I am, I would love to meet you in person and we can reminisce and talk about the sad thing and the good things. Until we meet, and we will. For now I use anonymous because i don't want to start a debate on this tragedy.

  6. If I knew who you were it would be helpful. And I welcome debates - I find they help me expand my mind and make me examine my point of view. I don't always change my opinion but I am always willing to listen.

  7. Anonymous8:51 PM

    Think Poppy Renee.

  8. Thanks. Then you of all people know I am up for debate. I am on a journey of self improvement and enlightenment

  9. Bonecutter4:39 PM

    Leaving the horrible tragedy in Connecticut aside for a moment, I would really like to offer you my respect, and admiration for the journey toward healing that you have undertaken BDB.

    I know you don't need my approval, but I have had a very dear friend who was raised in very similar circumstances to yours. Through her, I've seen just how difficult, painful and frustrating the path from victim to survivor can be.

    So, for whatever it's worth - well done!

  10. Thank you Bonecutter - it's been a journey that's for sure. In the wise words of my sister in law - we need nourishment not punishment. I hope my words encourage those who need it just as your words encourage me.

  11. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Well I gave it some thought, and would to express my thoughts. Renee I can feel in part some of what you went through and I commend you for being able to talk about it, but that is a good thing, it is people that keep it bottled up that tend to explode sooner or later. That I think is the main difference between you and the psychos that commit this type of crime. You handled it, you learned to cope, and you knew enough to get out of there when you were able. The ones that don't handle it, and often refuse to even accept that they may have a problem are the ones you have to watch. It is not always the fault of the system, these people often have the means at their disposal but refuse to get the help, and under our present system, in Canada and the US, unless they have already been found guilty of something but incapable to a mental illness, they cannot be forced to seek any help at all.

    A lot of the drugs in use today have also been labelled as dangerous, side effects that can cause angry lashing out, and other violent behavior. For that we can thank the mentally of "if we can't cure them, let's drug them".

    Let's face it, when I was growing up, you never ever heard of 5 year olds being on meds to control them. I guess we can thank the big Pharma companies for that, money talks.

    These kind of events will not stop, Now to gun control, here are some interesting facts that I gleaned off the web.

    These are US number

    From 1966 - 1994 (the year the ban on assault weapons was enacted) 67 firearm murders related to schools of all levels. The worst massacre was in 1927 when 45 were killed, by a bomb.

    in the period 1994 - 2004, there were 61 murders committed in schools of all levels, despite their being a ban on assault weapons.

    There have been a whopping 144 in the years 2005 - 2012, with two accounting for 60 casualties alone. Did the ban work? well in the Virginia Tech shooting that killed 33, two handguns were used, no assault weapon.

    I guess the point is whether or not tighter gun controls will stop anyone determined to go on a rampage. IMO it will just make criminals out of those already legally owning them who may not want to give them up, and just harder for those who want to get them illegally, which will just mean they will cost more. Further to have more areas designated "gun free zones" especially if it is a law, this just makes it easier for the nutcases to pick and choose which areas they want to target.

    I do agree with the proposal for tougher background checks, you should not be able to just go to a gun show and come out with an armload of firearms. As for the rest, I guess we will see how tough the individual States want to be and whether or not they, not the NRA, are willing to oppose any new extreme gun control laws.

    As for the arming of teachers, as was said in another forum, "I think the biggest protest to it is the idea by some, that the kids will be terrified / traumatised to see their teacher armed?" the other point raised in response to that was "As if they wouldn't be watching their classmates massacred, I would rather see one "traumatized" by seeing his or her teacher armed, than 250 traumatized when their classmates get shot."

    So there are probably good points and bad points that both sides will present, but the ultimate decision will up to those who make the laws, not the people themselves.

    I think you can see though were the US administration is going with this, all the talk is about gun control, nothing about funding mental health programs or getting help to people that need it.

    Like I said, expect more in the near future.

  12. You are right - the people will have to bend to the will of the politicians but it would sure be nice to see more help for the disturbed and challenged - I had read so many stats where armed people stopped attacks at schools etc.

    I don't have the answers but I know this much - if we look after our families and lead by example we have hope...thank you for sharing your thoughts - it is deeply appreciated.