thewhitelily: (Default)
The White Lily ([personal profile] thewhitelily) wrote2017-06-28 10:41 pm
Entry tags:

The problem behind the problem

So.

Late last night I worked out what this is really about.  It's not about the stupid thing I was overreacting to at all; that's just the straw that broke my back.

About six months, maybe a year ago, our neighbors from up the hill dumped some rubbish in the corner of their yard at the top of the retaining wall which separates their property from ours.  And a stack of torn out plasterboard sheets fell down from this into our yard, into a rock garden near the washing line where my boys play.  Given some of those boys are given to destructive impulses that damage our house and car if not channeled appropriately, I do try to give them free reign to destroy things that are okay for destruction.  And these torn out sheets of plasterboard tumbled down among a set of handy rocks... well, lets just say they've spent the last six months joyfully reducing them to fine powder and I have been more than happy for them to do that rather than attacking things inside the house.

A couple of days ago one of the builders we had around, fixing up a corner of our house where the eaves are falling down, asked me: What're all these asbestos sheeting fragments doing in your garden?

Me:

...

...

... oh no.

Um.  That would be, that would be the asbestos my very young children have been deliberately grinding up and whacking with rocks to make clouds of dust to play in?

Yeah, I kind of preferred it when they were cutting through power cords and car seatbelts with scissors.

They haven't exactly been doing lines of the stuff, but they've basically been doing the worst thing possible apart from that.

A sample's gone off for testing to confirm what it is, but they're pretty certain.  Next week the removal company comes to look at what they need to do to make it safe (for our eaves as well, which turned out to be asbestos, which is how the whole discussion got started and I want those eaves so fucking far away from my family right now).  I need to write a letter to our neighbors up the hill, who have young grandchildren who play in their yard, too, and I have to work out what the tone of that letter will be, which ranges anywhere from 'Hey just wanted to let you know and ask if you wanted our guy to quote on the removal from your garden while he's here' to 'YOU DUMPED ACTUAL FUCKING TOXIC WASTE IN MY KIDS PLAYGROUND YOU BASTARDS'.  I could go and visit them instead, but.  I've been having enough trouble finding words for a letter, without facing the additional difficulty of actually making those words come out of my mouth.  I want to know, if they knew.  Surely, surely, they can't have known.  Surely.

And you know what?  Feeling like this about the asbestos?  Yeah.  That's, actually... actually reasonable.  I'm allowed to sit here and cuddle my cat and cry about that, cause it sucks and it is fucked up and it is really probably not actually a big deal--plenty of kids have been exposed without complication far more than mine for the very many years when no-one knew it was harmful--but my mother-in-law is a world-renowned lung pathologist, and so I'm probably more informed than many about the precise nature of future complications.  Asbestos isn't just a scary word to me, the results of exposure are something that's been discussed across the dinner table.  A lot.

It is still reasonable to be afraid that in ten or twenty years, one of my children--whom I was supposed to be protecting--will develop complications as a direct result of this exposure, and I will outlive them.  And it's still reasonable to look that fear in the face and tell it that it has no need to take over my brain and suck away all my processing power and emotional energy to deal with feeling bad over something that will very most likely never matter; to tell it to save that energy for something that's actually real and can be changed right now.

Because it will most likely never matter.  And it wasn't anything I could have helped, because I didn't know any more than they did, any more than my parents did when they let my four sisters play in the cutting dust while they worked together up on the rooves building houses--none of whom, by the way dear Brain, have asbestos complications, which has to say something for the statistics no one one can give on exposure risks and the perspective you get from the dinner-table stories of a lung pathologist at the very far end of the causal chain.  And for the moment I'm doing everything I can to minimise the risk going forward.

But for now it's still entirely logical to feel bloody awful anyway.  And in that light, also to overreact to stupid things.
ancientreader: black and white pet rat (Default)

[personal profile] ancientreader 2017-06-28 02:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Not gonna lie, I would be fairly freaked out too. It's not so much "How much fear is a rational response to this?" as "OMFG I have been completely blindsided," is my guess. The risk you know about and can see coming / minimize / prepare for is one thing; the risk that comes up behind you and smacks you in the back of the head is much more alarming, because it goes directly to the question of how much control you have over your life.
ancientreader: black and white pet rat (Default)

[personal profile] ancientreader 2017-06-29 02:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah, I'm glad that was a useful take. Projecting straight out of my own wee anxiety disorder, you see ...!
smallhobbit: (Edel Lion)

[personal profile] smallhobbit 2017-06-28 05:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Your reaction is entirely understandable. When my daughter was in hospital earlier this year and having a gall blander operation I was really worried. She however, being a nurse at the hospital in question, was calm about the operation 'they do them every day'. But that wasn't the point - she's my daughter and it's my job to be worried.

And however illogical you may tell yourself you're being, the emotion is going to stay. On the plus side you do know why you're reacting like that.

I shall send mentally calming thoughts in the hope they will reach you.