Saturday, July 6, 2013

Glass Walls & Recurring Nightmares

Photo found at
Whilst innocently scrolling my Facebook newsfeed today, I came across a cute video of a tiny Pomeranian puppy howling in response to hearing a wolf. I'd seen it before but who could resist? I clicked on the link, and straight away an advertisement played featuring none other than Sir Paul McCartney. Normally, I'd hit "skip" the moment the option was available, but since a beloved Beatle was involved, I stayed glued. 

Sir Paul went on to recite one of his most famous quotes, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." I was not appalled, as some might perhaps be, because I, in fact, ceased eating meat of all kinds in 2007. I stopped, not only for the health and well-being of the animals, but also for my own.

Dark, pixelated, undercover footage clips of slaughterhouses began to play. I'd seen some of this abhorrent behind-the-scenes footage before, so I just assumed hang on until the subject of this advertisement became clear. "Glass Walls" briefly appears on the screen. Oh, looks like this might be a documentary. I love documentaries. 

I'm intrigued.

He then began talking about chickens and turkeys. Mind you, I'd just come in from cleaning up after and feeding my own pet hens, Lucy and Ethel. Lucy and Ethel have incredible personalities, following me around like puppies, playing with my feet, and getting so excited when I give them special treats they make little happy sounds (I have no other words to describe the sounds other than 'happy'). They bring me joy. As I'm thinking about how much I love my little feathered girls, I see a man in a sweatshirt saying, "They're hard to kill sometimes" and he stomps on a turkey's head twice with his boot, then, when he see's it's still alive, violently grabs its head and begins to twist it around until it eventually snaps. I closed the tab immediately and began to sob for at least twenty minutes. 

At least for the turkey it was over.

My three dogs instantly surrounded me, my Great Dane Audrey lay her head in my lap and I held her head in my arms, tears dripping down onto her long neck. She was also once severely abused, but lived, and I rescued her. She's since rescued me, countless times.

Absolute devastation. It was just too, too much. 

And no, no. I'm not that girl that goes around sobbing when the sun comes up, when the moon is full, when my dog eats chicken poop. Again. (Well, maybe that last bit.) Hey Paul, I love you dearly (mean it!), but this image was frankly too much for me to handle physically, emotionally, and psychologically.  

And just a few hours earlier, also whilst innocently scrolling my Facebook Newsfeed, a graphic image appeared showing a German Shepherd Dog that had been tied to a motorcycle and dragged. Its bones were exposed. This was also far too much. I didn't ask for it, nor did I click on it—it was just there, at the top of my Newsfeed. That, and Sir Paul's message, though incredibly truthful and real, took me straight into sensitive meltdown mode, into the tunnel of darkness. 

Visual Thinking: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Visual thinking certainly isn't isolated to those on the autism spectrum, but I do attribute mine to my own AS diagnosis. Thinking in pictures can come in quite handy as I'm able to build and draw and visualize things clearly, as a gallery in my mind. I'm able to see the most minute of details, and see color quite vividly. How it works for me is this: in a conversation, you may reference a giraffe; I instantly see every giraffe I've ever encountered, similar to google images, until I 'land' on the one that matches the discussion (which is where my eyes are going when not briefly meeting yours). Every experience, photo, video, and film I've ever seen has been memorized and saved, forever, in my ever-loving cerebral hard drive. Forever. Startling images like that of the dog being dragged by the motorcycle or the turkey being brutally murdered become perseverant thought movies of sorts, playing on a loop. They never go away. It takes time and hard work to simply put them away in a folder on my brain's desktop. 

It can take weeks, or even months (honestly, in some cases, years) of filling my hard drive with new things by reading new books, seeing new images, having new experiences, just to have them put away for the moment . . . at least until another of these frightening, gut wrenching images comes along. Then the folder is once again opened and there they are, all on exhibit. Unfortunately, these "protected" files can never be deleted. If only Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were a viable scenario . . .

Now, please don't get me wrong. I'm not one to hide from the truth. I want the truth out there. I'm, actually, rather obsessed with the truth. I passionately want people to know what goes on behind closed doors, in the dark, hidden behind pretty colors, cartoons, and false advertisements. Knowing creates freedom. Hello—I just confessed to sobbing for nearly twenty minutes over a video image. That's why I wrote my memoir. I don't hide the sexual abuse or the drug abuse or the humiliating personal moments. However, I realized today that sometimes the truth can be too much—for me. 

Am I just too sensitive?

As much as I'd like to be able to 'ban' those types of images and videos, Sir Paul is 100% right. He's right to expose the truth. We need to see it. He's narrated a documentary, titled Glass Walls (warning: this link takes you to the full 13 minute video), and I'm glad he did. We should know what we're voting for with our dollars, what we are putting in our bodies, what we are supporting by our actions or inaction. I applaud his efforts.

Now what?

I think, personally, I should stay away from Facebook for a bit. Maybe I'll just remove serial posters of the sort from my feed altogether. I'm curious to hear what others think about these types of images. Yay or nay? Perhaps there are solutions, suggestions, or supportive camaraderie out in the world for sensitive truth lovers, such as myself (and you?).


Karen Chevalier said...

Some I cannot and will not watch former images of those before are just too much. I AM thankful for such images though.. It has touched a part of what I know is true and what others in my life tell me I am crazy wrong and bad for making public. I was just a little girl and life was so scary but I tell you things happen and I am NOT lying.

Bossiehair said...

Ok, Brandy. I clicked on the link to watch the video, and like you...when I got to the "hard to kil"l part with the wringing of the neck I had to tune out. I grew up in Tanzania for a few years when I was young and while we ate meat it was a whole different, country, more humane, yet connected way of filling the plate. Weird to see your dinner (chicken) taken out back and have his head cut off hours before supper. It would literally "run around with it's head cut off". At the bottom of the hill a cow would be slaughtered humanely (oxymoron) for the village's portions. I've always teeter tottered on becoming a vegetarian, for health and humane reasons alike. If and when I make that leap, I'd have to stop wearing leather shoes also, since that's part of the grand schema. What do I do about fish and seafood? I wonder about growing and cutting down plants. That's killing also. Perhaps surviving off of breath and h20 are the least destructive paths.

Funny, I too store countless images in my brain...of people's faces, things I've seen and smells etc. I usually never forget a face and when I get into conversatiion with the person, the visual databank keeps ticking til I remember the when and where's of our encounter. People (myself included) are always amazed when I can remember them or recall in detail memories about a particular time. I can see it as if it just happened yesterday, remember the way things smelled, etc. It spooks me out a bit, but I like remembering.

Brandy Nightingale said...

Ah, Michele, I understand your questioning. I watched the documentary Stevie Wonder was a part of, The Secret Life of Plants, and was torn. But the way I see it now, is that (especially now that I grow my own food) I am not tearing the plants part or abusing them. I care for them and they produce fruits and vegetables. I don't eat seafood. No animals. And I'm healthier than I ever was before.

It's a tough thing, and the truth should be out there for people to see, I just know I am a bit too sensitive toward seeing the images. Hopefully not everyone is like me. :^)

Brandy Nightingale said...

Thank you, Karen, for reading this piece and sharing your heart. :^)

Karen Chevalier said...

I have not eaten pork or beef in quite a while. Working on the chicken. No leather. As far as my research goes plants do not have pain receptors . I love your blog. Gets me to thinking I have a lot more work to do. Also how vital it is to support our sisters especially if that was not modeled for us. God bless them.

Hannah Cadaver said...

I saw your link as the result of the post with the German Shepherd. I am glad I did. May I please link to your post via my FB page? I find it insightful, charming, sensitive, thought provoking and it says so much I have failed to find the words for, myself regarding, AS, pictorial thinking and the questions you pose.
You can contact me via here to let me know:
I hope to receive a reply from you :-)

Brandy Nightingale said...

Hi Hanna! Thanks for reading and wanting to share my lil post. I sent you a message on facebook but it will likely end up in your "other" messages folder. By all means, do share if you'd like!