Close to home

vanitysearch

 

True confession: I vanity search myself. All the time.

What this says about my nature, I’ll leave to my next therapy session. Among other reasons, I Google myself periodically to make sure there’s nothing untoward attached to my good name. Most of the time it is harmless narcissism.

Then, last fall, someone hacked into my professional website. I had to rebuild it from the bottom up.

What was the first clue of this violation? A vanity search, which revealed my site and all its links were going to a free payday loan operation. So, while I’m aware that excessive self-searching is on par with repetitive mirror checking and compulsive stove knob checking (to make sure the burners are off, for the uninitiated), I’m defending the practice.

In all this Googling, I realize I am very findable. If someone were to stalk me, it would be an easy assignment. I wouldn’t think much of this except some of the people I’ve tried to find have no known online presence. Are they technophobes or savvy? It’s always possible their alter-egos rule the online world.

My uncontrollable Googling took a dark turn when I began searching for particular people, including the bad doctor. I hadn’t thought of him in a while. The last time was during my latest ill-fated attempt at therapy. 

And here’s the thing: I Googled him and right away I learned he lived within walking distance of my house.

How do I feel about this?

Like someone tackled me from behind, knocking all the air from my lungs, and when I get up to look in the mirror to check for damage, I see the ignorant, vulnerable and gullible 12-year-old me in the reflection. For a moment. Here’s another thing: I allowed myself to travel through the range of emotions and then I let it pass.

He is an old man now. How harmful could he be?

I am a grown woman now. How vulnerable could I be against an old man?

I did a little more digging. It looks as if he has turned around his life. But, who knows? His outward life appeared fine then, too. Family man. Accomplished in his field. The comforts of the upper middle class. This kind of thing is kept hidden, especially among the well-heeled. But it’s what I want — need — to believe.  That he is reformed.

What I still wonder are these things:

  • Is he aware that what he did to me and others was wrong?
  • Was he drunk/high when he did those things?
  • Did he do those things to his children?
  • Did someone do those things to him?
  • Was this a compulsion that he could not control then and continues to fight daily?

I don’t suppose he wonders how I am. I’m guessing he wipes his brow in relief from time to time that I kept my mouth shut.

Further research on the old boy showed that he has lived in my shadow for all my life. We’ve basically migrated along the same path around this metropolitan area. Coincidence? It has to be. He has made no contact with me since the ’80s.

Maybe he Googles me? and others? It’s something to consider: How much of what is precious to me is accessible to bad people?

While I no longer fear him, I fear his kind. I am a middle-aged woman who still harbors a serious doctor phobia. I delay physicals and ignore health symptoms as long as possible to avoid the clinical environments and naked probings of such places. When I can control the gender choice of doctor, I do. When I am ill enough, I give in.

The important thing here is my children, one still an innocent, the other with one foothold in adulthood but still sheltered from such things. How findable are they on the Internet should some twisted freak conduct a search? How much do they know about what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to other trusted adults in their lives? It is my job to make sure it is clear to them the course to take not only if they suspect something but also to speak up right away.

Even more important: Parents need to act on the courage of their children. Doubt later. Punish a lie later. Act now.

— April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention month 

Beach therapy

cresentgrasstree

The beach hides behind these grassy dunes.

Summer performs its final act in these next few weeks.

I see the foreshadowing in the orange-tinted maples along the highway. I watch the plot development in my garden: plants are yielding less produce each week. Blooms are brown, spindly or spent. I witness the last chapter as it writes itself: Girl from the West gets up early for the first time in months to attend sophomore orientation. She talks excitedly  about the upcoming football season and the homecoming dance. Tomorrow, we take Girl from the East to her first-ever soccer practice.

Knowing that the show is about to end, I grabbed my summer to-do list last weekend and checked off the last item: day at the beach. Sure, there are beaches along our many inland lakes close to home, but they are not worth the entrance fee. To find a good beach, we Michiganders must head to one of the Great Lakes.

cresentshore

What the tip of Michigan's thumb looks like

Earlier this week we spent the day at Port Crescent State Park, one of my favorite beaches along Lake Huron. It’s a manageable drive from home and well worth the slow sojourn through corn and soy bean farm country. I’ve dreamed all summer of  this beach’s fine-grained sandy shores, soft lake bottom free of muck, sharp rocks or seaweed,  and its breathtaking views of Michigan’s “thumb.”

We kept it simple: a big blanket, a cooler packed with snacks and water bottles, and a plastic tote stuffed with beach toys. We splashed and swam and threw Frisbees and dodged lapping waves in search of the perfect skipping stones. We dug a hole to the center of the Earth, erected wobbly castles, ate a few sand pies, and battled seagulls for territorial rights.

digdeep

Imagine what our bath tub looked like that night.

No matter how tough times are, how many challenges we face, it’s good therapy to take at least one day a month and escape into a world that offers nothing but sensory pleasure.

Beach therapy. Tickets are still available at a shore near you.

crescentsand

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The best remedy

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

–Frank Lloyd Wright

buds

red maple buds

 

sign

urban nature preserve

path

following the path

beetle tracks

vernalpoind

vernal pond

 

 

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

–Anne Frank

 

sit

happy to be outside