We the people… are the faces of the traumatized. The walking wounded if you will. The little ones that we want to protect, to give the lessons of how to grow into their potential of more than they can imagine, more than the characters they see on television, the stars or sports figures they want to be like or better than. We the people who have developed our own beliefs, ideas, habits and goals that walk through our days, or sit through our thoughts, now sit with more fear while witnessing more trauma than ever before. We the people are now suffering Post traumatic stress secondary to those things that we hear about, that we witness, that we absorb into our nervous systems at record numbers across the world.
We wonder how, why, when, where will we feel safe. Normal activities now to be questioned; trips to the store, an afternoon matinee, sending our children to school safely. Expecting that all is ok in our little part of the world, neighbors to be trusted, mornings to days, days to evenings, evenings to safe nights in our homes.
Once again it has happened; the unthinkable in a safe place. A couple goes to a movie… Prior to the movie starting a man texts his daughter. Seems ok to me; texts are not loud, the movie had not begun. However, a retired Tampa Police Officer did not like it; popcorn was thrown, words exchanged and in a second… lives were changed forever when he shot the man at point blank range. His wife had put her hand up in an attempt to protect him, she is in the hospital, her husband dead, his daughter has the last communication via text.
All on a day of a movie, popcorn, lives forever changed.
Witnessed by all that were there; his limp body fell to a stranger, a nurse ran to administer CPR; the images now seared in their minds, along with the others in that theater in Florida.
We ask why, how… again.
PTSD once was reserved for those who went to war, those who held the bodies of their dying brothers/sisters in uniform. Those who see or saw the most unthinkable of things. It just may be that here on our soils, we are seeing everyday folks walking with Post Traumatic Stress, Secondary Stress Disorder more and more. A result of what is witnessed in day to day life. The result of daily postings on social media of children that are dying, have gone missing, of dogs that are mistreated, are harmed by human hands, of sexual abuse, rape, shootings, murders, of horrid happenings by every day people living every day lives.
Of politicians playing with everyday people, with homes that are vicariously being held on to in times that are hard, with hatred being stirred like a shit pot of emotional firecrackers waiting for the boiling point.
Our children and adults now prefer gaming a form of dissociation and distraction… are we becoming so insensitive to the horrors around us, or just building a shield of protection to survive. the grief is insurmountable not only that which is personal, but the grief and loss of a kinder, more gentle time. A time where one could walk the streets at night, or leave the front door open without fear. Those days seem long gone as now one has to look around them when thinking on a movie to see or where to sit in a theater.
The thoughts that run through the brain can be devastating after something is vicariously witnessed in our world, our community, online, or personal. It creates messages that run through the body in a hot second… It is important, critical to be in check with emotions, feelings, thoughts after an event that leaves you feeling vulnerable. Traumatic events can create stress reactions in the brain; talk about them, find time to process them. Work through them. We must take the time… ask for help, reach out, work through the anxiety, the fear, the grief, the uncertainty.
Talk to the kids; ask them if they are having any of the above feelings, thoughts, images … Are you?
Limit your exposure to media, to the stories of others if they are hard to bear witness to. There are times when one has to row their own boat, set their own sails against strong winds. This may be that time.
Be safe, be gentle, just be.
From real fears, heightened vigilance, to what we see hear on news. We now know, many have lost their filters, their ability to reason and their compassion for others. Together we can stand, we can continue to look for the good. Yes, it seems that life is more scary than ever… Kids forgetting to say, hello, thank you, please… yet some getting suspended at 7 years old for having blue hair, while others walk in with a real gun just cos’ they wanted to show it off.
Some things just will never make sense. Look for the good, then move it. Move the fear into action steps. One step at a time. We are stronger than the trauma, if we have help to move the trauma and stand together.