I've heard as a preacher's wife it's typical to not have your own identity, as you are living in the shadow of your husband in many cases. From my days when I attended FHU, I can tell you the preachers are the ones I remember - sadly, I don't remember too many of their wives. That must be tough. Some women can take that on easily. Some take that on easily at first, and later, after a traumatic event (say the miscarriage Mary had in this case), there comes a point where you want to be heard - you want to be acknowledged that you exist. And sometimes a person makes the right decisions to change their life in order to be listened to and heard - other times, people make tragic decisions. This case is truly tragic.
I can't tell you how often I have been referred to as "the girl in the office", "the secretary", "his assistant", "Michael's wife", "Allyson and Paul's mom", etc. Which is why I don't share much about my personal life with anyone....people don't know a lot about my husband, kids, etc, because I am trying to be acknowledged as an individual for who I am, the talents I have, the work I do. Is that egotistical? Is that wrong that I want to be acknowledged for being me? Is it wrong that I want the world to know I exist as my own person, that I have my own skills, and that I'm special in my own right?
I don't think it's wrong. I'm not being that way for selfish reasons. I am an individual (just as everyone else in our world is). I am my unique, own person - and I deserve to be seen as that, in addition to being seen as a unique person involved in the other roles I play. And that's what I give out to the rest of the world - I always try to make a point to acknowledge the individual as who they are. A little thing goes a long way in that, and one very easy way to acknowledge someone is to know their NAME. And spell it RIGHT. Whenever I answer an email and address someone by name, I always take the time to look, spell their name right, and use it. It's a little thing, but it goes a long way to making sure the person knows I am focused on them, I am hearing them as an individual, and I appreciate them for who they are. Just that one, simple little gesture does that. And the truth is, I wish more people would behave that way with me.
When the mother of your son's best friend - whom you've just spent 2 hours talking to on the phone a few days ago, calls again and doesn't even REMEMBER your NAME - it hurts. When you make dinner plans with your husband, and he totally forgets, it hurts. When your mother only calls you when she wants something from your father (her ex), and the rest of the time, she doesn't call, nor answer the phone when you call - it hurts. When you post your work to mailing lists of thousands of people, expecting to get some sort of response or feedback, and only 1-2 people comment, it hurts. (It's like being in a room full of people and everyone is talking all around you or just flat out not seeing you are there!) When a clerk at the checkout register in a store doesn't even LOOK at you, much less acknowledge you're there in front of them, it hurts. These are little things - they are not "big life issues" - but they can hurt just as if they were, especially if you get enough doses of it all at one time.
Not being heard is something I've struggled with all of my life. No, I'm not a minister's wife and frankly I don't think I could take the pressure of it. Nor would I be accepted as a "good" minister's wife - or any other "public" figure's wife - because I wouldn't be willing to play the role required. I want to live my life and just be accepted for who I am - good, bad, whatever. I don't want to have to put on an acting job. Granted, I know if I went along with the crowd and did the acting job required to "fit in" places, I'd have a lot more friends....but would they be real? More than likely, they'd just be "acquaintances". Someone to talk to at events, or ride together with to a meeting, etc. It wouldn't be a real friendship - which requires realness along with intimacy, a feeling of freedom to express things, and a feeling of acceptance for who I am, even on my worst of days.
If Mary Winkler had one of those type of real friends, we don't know about it yet. My guess is she might not have. Hence the possibility of her feeling like "no one listens to me, I'm not being heard, I want to be my own person." She was trying, it sounds like, to do things on her own...she had her own talents and skills and she was pursuing things in different areas - but it was, perhaps, too late. The feelings of not being heard, not being acknowledged, not having anyone there to truly listen to her, had already taken over so bad, it just took one event, or a combination of several little things, to set her off into the actions she took.
I've done things myself I wish I hadn't of....things which were done because I "snapped". No, I haven't done anything nearly as drastic or painful for myself and others, but still, some of my actions upset those around me. And the response was always "Why are you doing this TO ME?" by the other party - and what they never got - what they never understood - is that I was not, in my mind, doing something TO THEM - I was doing something FOR ME. Things I did were designed to ease my own pain, to prove to myself I do exist, to protect myself from something, or to be accepted, acknowledged and heard. Things I did in my past were done because I truly believed they were the right thing to do at the time....for ME...not because I wanted to do something "to" someone else. Unfortunately, sometimes things we do for ourselves end up hurting others around us.
Would I ever snap like Mary did? I can certainly tell you I have felt the feelings necessary to make the snap happen...but deep down, something has always stopped me from taking drastic measures. I do tend to think of consequences (if I do this, then this might, will, or could happen). However, if I were under a tremendous amount of stress or pressure, I'm not sure I would stop and think of those consequences. I've been lucky - most of my life, I've been able to realize if I were spiralling out of control or getting too stressed - and I would take measures to stop that, which then helps everything else. I can only imagine Mary allowed herself to be pushed beyond her acceptable limits of stress and pressure. And the outcome for all involved is very, very sad.
Luckily I have my creative work to save me from insanity. And like I said above, I take measures to control my stress level. Ironically, one of the measures I take is I don't read or listen to the news about all the tragedies happening in the world. I tend to get emotionally involved with these people I don't even know, because I am a very emotional being. And that can be a bad thing for me. Of course I've blown it this time - being this case is close to home for me, and I'm curious as to her thoughts and feelings, I've allowed myself to watch, read, listen, speculate, think and feel. I guess this post I'm making now is for me....to work out what I'm thinking and feeling as a result of paying attention to these events. And I guess that's why I'm producing a lot more work this past week - it's my personal form of therapy for my life.
I'm sure we'll know something soon about why Mary made the choices she did. I want to understand - because if I understand why in her case, it can help me figure out my own "whys". It can help me make different choices in my own life and maybe help others make different choices in theirs. And that may be the one good thing which comes out of this....because I guarantee you, we all have the ability to go over the edge. Maybe we can recognize in our own lives, or the lives of another close to us, when it's time to put a fence up before we fall over that "edge" - and maybe, just maybe, it can stop another tragedy like this one from happening.