I Just Can’t With This

By: Julie Young

December 17, 2012

Ever since my children were born, I have lost the ability to watch anything other than comedies.

Before my son and daughter were here, I was a huge fan of documentaries, dramas, sometimes thrillers.  I’ve always had an aversion to violence in the media but the aversion went into overdrive upon the birth of my children.  I’ve spoken with other moms’ who have told me the same thing happened to them.

My mind becomes my foe sometimes at night, as I lie in bed before falling asleep and start worrying about all of the what ifs.  How unbearable it would be for me if something were to ever happen to my family.  Even writing that sentence freaks me out.

When one side of my brain attempts to become my foe with all of this nonsensical worry, the other side uses my personal mantra and a well-known Buddhist phrase to try and combat the foe.  It usually works.

Then something like the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut occurs and my mantras and sayings fall so, so short.  Because of a slightly crazy day at work last Friday, I did not learn about the shootings until much later in the day.  I started reading a newspaper article on the tragedy and had to stop myself.  Too upsetting.  I still had to pick up my kids from school.  Still had to get them safely home on the subway, still had to function as a mom for them.

After they went to bed, I started reading the tweets and the facebook postings about the tragedy.  The prayers and condolences being sent out, the calls for gun control, the arguments against it.  I was bewildered to the point of not being able to make a comment in less than 140 characters.  I have yet to read anymore articles on the tragedy.  I stopped watching “the news” many years ago. I know that my brain, and heart, can not bear this weight of sadness and anger.

I have this perhaps ridiculous fear that when things are going really well in my life, something terrible is going to happen to upend it all.  After talking to other adoptees who have the same struggle, I have come to believe that it must be because of the trauma enacted upon my soul when I was sent away from my Korean mom; i.e., it’s an adoptee thing.  When my babies were first born after my six year hard fought battle to have them, I constantly checked to make sure they were still breathing. I’ve already mentioned my pre-sleep worrying.

More recently, I started a new job and career that I am fortunate enough to love.  I’ve been at my new job for almost 90 days and am just starting to lose the angst filled worry that something else in my life would go wrong.

My kids are at a new school this year in Manhattan.  This was a big change for them after having gone to pre-kindergarten just a block away from our home in Brooklyn.  When they started the school year, my daughter was concerned that we wouldn’t come back for them at the end of the school day. It took sometime for her to feel comfortable with being, in her mind, so far away from us.  Now, as we rush out the door every morning trying to be on time, sometimes we barely say goodbye to whichever parent is staying home (usually daddy).  We trust that our kids will be safe at school, just as the Newtown parents did.

Should’ve been; should be; why is this not – unthinkable?

Our country must end it’s obsession with guns.  I do not use the word “hate” lightly, loosely or randomly.  I hate guns.  I hate when people say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  I hate when people use the Constitution to argue for their “right” to own a gun.  One of the main reasons why there was a “right to bear arms” back when the Constitution was drafted was so that white people, owners of slaves, could shoot and kill their slaves if they tried to escape.

In all of these mass murders in our country, the gunman has almost always been a white male.  What gives?  Mental illness?  When does mental illness become just effing crazy?  What about all of the mentally ill people who do not murder people with guns?  What gives?

The right to bear arms was drafted 225 years ago.  I, for one, think it is past time for a re-write.  Radical? Perhaps, but I just don’t see any viable arguments to allowing free access to guns.  I see mass murders of our children and teachers. I see cold blooded, racially charged killings of our Black youth. I see insecure, fear possessed people continuing to kill freely until and unless strict gun control laws are enacted.  Look, ideally I’d like all guns to be eradicated from existence.  Yes, I know people would find other ways to kill.  But these small-minded, insecure folk who may or may not be mentally ill, would also have to get a lot more creative and put a lot more effort into carrying out their depraved fantasies of murder.

As a mother, I am particularly sickened by the gun violence in this country. I just can’t with this.  Many people believe you should not share your personal mantra with others but I disagree.  Words have power, are energy and create energy.  So here’s my personal mantra, feel free to make it yours too:


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Love Poem

by Julie Young

All my life I thought it was me

I thought it was I who had suffered

but I see clearly now

It was you

You were the one that suffered

Bone marrow deep

You suffered

The poverty

The beatings

The paranoia

The feeling of


You wanted better for me

You said I was smart

You wanted me to have a chance

So you sent me away

on that big steel bird

Regret descended upon your heart

the moment

the bird took flight


I went

To the world of unknowns

I still cry for that little girl

Your baby

She must’ve been scared

Out of her mind


She needed you

She needed her sister

Crying “unni, unni” in her new strange home

Worlds apart, we are

Growing up without you

I wondered if you wondered

My hands

were they your hands

My face

how I hated my face.

How I needed you to tell me

as all mothers should

That you thought I was the prettiest girl

in the world

That above all else

what matters most is inner beauty

As I struggled with belonging

and self love

You struggled to survive

being divorced

being without a home

being separated

for years

from all of your children

How did you do it umma?

How did you find the courage to go on

each day?

How did you keep your faith

when you suffered so much?

I struggle now

with some guilt

that your life was so



I was righteously selfish

for so many years

as the abandoned one

I don’t dismiss my feelings

They were valid

I was abandoned

And it hurts

But I see now

that I am not the only one in this story

More than anything

this is your story

Your story

as a Woman

as a Mother

This is your story

of Courage

Your story of Strength

Your story of Faith

I am in awe of you

I grieve the life we were not able to have together

For you

and for me

I grieve

With all my heart


I love you.

Julie Young is a former litigation attorney and currently works full-time in the nonprofit sector.  Additionally, Julie is a writer and speaker. She serves on the Board of Nazdeek and is an Advisory Board Member of All Together Now.  Julie holds a B.S. degree in Psychology from Fordham University and a J.D. degree from Cardozo School of Law.  She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and twins.