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Trauma Mama

Dismantling Wall in Order to Heal - artist Somerson
Dear Husband and I both enjoy certain medical shows, such as "ER" and "Code Black." ("St. Elsewhere" was another fave!) These shows revolve around trauma: humans who'd been ambushed by life: a car accident, a fire, and abuse, as examples.

More often than not, these shows also highlight the trauma the doctors and nurses needed to deal with. Having a patient die is always offensive to a doctor: they are charged with saving lives and losing one is the ultimate failure. Nurses spend more time with patients, and can forge strong bonds with people that may be in their lives for just a few days.

But trauma doesn't always look like a bloody body being wheeled into an emergency room, or a house surrounded by fire trucks and police cars. Trauma comes in many forms.

According to one website, trauma can look like surgery. It can look like moving. Trauma can be losing a beloved spouse or more horrifying, a child. Trauma can also be chronic pain, loneliness, mental illness. Trauma can be caring for a loved one who is dying.

We don't get wheeled into the ER because we are moving. No one suggests a doctor visit for loneliness. When you kid gets put in jail for stealing a car, there is no EMT waiting to care for the parents of that kid.

Over the past 18 months, I've had a lot of stuff to deal with. I've lost 2 jobs, we moved (not entirely by choice), we are involved in 2 lawsuits, I learned I had inoperable cysts on my spine that may eventually erode some of the bone. Our family dynamic has changed with one daughter now living 1000 miles away.

Over the past 10 days or so, I've been praying about and reflecting on all this. I don't have a job right now; I wasn't quite as valuable to that company as I was lead to believe. Thus, I've got a lot of time to do some soul-searching.

Trauma has been a big part of our family life. Our kids started life with cocaine in their systems. It's affected all of them differently, but no one could possibly say that it didn't harm them.

Adoption can be traumatic. There are a lot of questions that don't always get answered.

For some reason, 8th grade was traumatic for all our kids. It's like the social pressure, the hormones and their already slightly-addled brains just imploded. And sometimes, the kids exploded. We lived in a house with holes in the walls, cabinet doors smashed, carpeting ruined from having toilet cleaner dumped on it. For me, coming home was never a welcome homecoming. No, I had to steel myself to walk in that door every evening after work, hoping that no thing was destroyed and no one was hurt.

Despite just having lost a job I truly loved, I am beginning to see the great blessing I've been given. I have a lot of trauma I need to deal with. I'm one of those people you want around when there is an emergency - I go into Wonder Woman mode and get stuff done! Now! Won't take no for an answer!

And then, when the issue has been attended to, I thank God and then wait for the next emergency. And there always was one. It got to be that I lived in a heightened state of anticipation and anxiety, knowing that the next crisis would be coming anytime.

Now, I have a quiet home that truly is a refuge. I have time to think and pray and write. I have time to process things that I've stuffed down very deep, because if I didn't do that, I could never handle the next crisis.

Just this week, I've been shown in so many ways (Thank you, God!) that now is meant to be a time of rest and stillness. It is to be a time of contemplation and wonder. It will be a time for me to dig out from all the trauma and hurt and sorrow and pain that I've given free rein to my brain and heart. Now is a time to heal.

Let's be kind out there, in this harsh world we live in. That horribly slow man in front of you at the check out? He's been sleeping with his wife every night in the hospital as she battles cancer. That noisy, rude kid next door? He has no adults in his life who truly care for him. That woman in the office who always has a smile on her face and candy on her desk? She is ready to break into a million pieces because her husband has informed her that he is leaving her for another woman.

It's taken a long time for me to see that I have been a Trauma Mama for a long time. All this trauma needs an outlet, to be lanced and drained, no longer allowed to fester.

As much as I hated losing my job, I now have time to garden a bit, to write more, to see friends I haven't seen in years, and to be free of a schedule. This Trauma Mama is going to take the time necessary to retreat a bit spending time in the company of Almighy God, our Blessed Mother,  and some saintly friends. I'll be taking the advice of St. Francis de Sales: Be patient in all things, but most of all with yourself.


Deep calls to deep  
in the roar of your torrents, 
and all your waves and breakers sweep over me. 
By day the Lord sends his mercy and 
by night may his righteousness be with me! (Ps. 42:8-9)

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