A few connected and disjointed thoughts on trauma:
A couple of years ago, I joined an Artists as Change Agents cohort that was led by EMCarts. In various forms and iterations, our group has met to support one another and our artistic practices. One of the change agents is a pastor-painter-clinical pastoral care educator named Cathy. Cathy, in all her fiery wisdom, was rant-praying-venting-sharing the other day on a zoom call about how talk about "trauma" has become trendy. She wasn't making trauma or the experience of trauma small. In fact, her vocation is centered around listening and caring through trauma. But, she was bemoaning the trendiness of it. During her rant, she said, "'Trauma' is just a trendy word for wounds." That phrase stuck with me.
These moments, the not knowing what to do, how to cope, what is real, and how we should all think and be, the whole thing is very surreal. I've paid way too much attention to social media lately, probably because of the false sense of connection it provides. And in my social media scrolling, I have come across a few helpful posts from @seaglasstherapy on instagram and @alexixrockley on twitter:
Having to direct other humans through daily actions, strategic planning, and organizational adaptation in moments when the brain isn't functioning at maximum capacity is a real trick. I'm not good at it. I'm not supposed to be.
Our black sisters at prayers listed 4 people in one evening. In evening prayers, I've noticed that the participants who are black are the ones listing names of people they know who have died. I don't know anyone who has died from COVID19 yet. Our black sisters at prayers listed 4 people in one evening. I'm so angry that anyone could conceive of the notion that black, brown, and poor folks are disposable; that the capitalism's health is more important that a human's life. Prayer requests were shared for nightmares- images of "reopeners" screaming, shouting at the door step, coming to take friends and family.
I have heard some inside my head talk that sounds like this: "I've reached out to folks and they haven't responded. This is showing me who my real friends are." I saw a post that challenged my perspective: "This is a pandemic, yall. This is not the time to test folks' level of dependency or friendship with you." It was helpful for me to remember. I certainly do not want to be judged or measured in my capacity as a friend right now. So, how in the world could I even attempt to do that to someone else?
The kid two doors down seems to be the "man of the house," at home and responsible for his three younger siblings. He is 13 years old. This week, folks on an online platform plastered his face all over messages calling him scum. We saw police talking to him this week. Four police cars. One kid.
A man stops by our porch every day. He says he no longer wants to live. We have taken him to the mental hospital. He is back. Again he tells us he no longer wants to live.
A young dad tells us he recently had a bad month when he had no lights. When he didn't have his lights on, he couldn't visit with his toddler son. It was the 1 year anniversary of a great grandmother's death. Her name was Sammy. The family went to the grave. They had a cookout afterward. The daily soundtrack of Enderly Park is trucks, muffler-less motorbikes, and bass. How can things be so normal and so different at the same time?
I remind my kindred to wear a helmet. He takes turns popping wheelies and doing tricks, first on his bicycle and then on his motor bike. He doesn't wear a helmet. A man on the online platform says that he knows where this kid lives and that he has a conceal carry license and will take things into his own hands if he has to. The church pastor next door has parked the church bus and van in a spot that blocks my view of my kindred's front porch. I try to reach up on tippy toes to check in. Make sure those blue lights aren't for him. I text him. "Be careful. I love you. Make smart choices. Are you at home?" I walk over and knock on his door daily. It is really hard to keep the 6ft distance. His mom is an essential worker. When he answers the door, I want to give him a hug.