Perspective on Trauma

Building Perspective on Trauma, Loss, Attachment, Familial Pain, and Moving Forward


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Desensitization, Kindling for Emotional Defense.

The pain in our world feels both big and broad today. As, I watched the morning news another young man has lost his life in police custody and another story surfaces of a young man who lost his life to police violence last year. These names, these lives lost, are added to a growing list of individuals of color who have lost their lives to police brutality or  gun violence in our country. Names that we all recognize, and know the public details of their horrific deaths, are memorialized in our headlines and minds.

The names, and lost lives, of Adrian Ingram-Lopez, and Elijah McClain are added along side Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Brionna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Emmett Till , George Floyd, and the many we do not know of. These crimes against our own American citizens occur at an alarming rate and, in the aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s public murder, a more public rate.

As these stories, and the painful reality they bring, swirl in our collective awareness daily confirmed Corono virus cases and deaths are simultaneously reported. With each rising number on our screen, someone’s loved one, loses his or her battle against covid-19. Another family must navigate the long and painful journey of grief.

These reports are made against the backdrop of a country whose leadership appears to politicize safety and many are left feeling hopeless and fearful. The growing sense of futility, fed by the reality playing out before us, needs resolution. It takes a strong psychological structure to withstand what is before us. And, an even stronger one to remain hopeful in its midst.

To desensitize means to make (someone) less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images. In psychology the term systematic desensitization is used to describe the process by which a client may find resolution to a phobia or neurosis through gradual (real or imagined) exposure to the problematic issue. It is this, that has my own mind worried today.

As the last moments of our fellow citizens repeatedly play out before us, many at the hands of the system in place to protect us, we maintain consistent knowledge of death and virus spread while concurrently navigating our newly adjusted (safety conscious) lives. Clearly stated, it is to much to manage without distraction or defense. It is human nature ( a built in safety mechanism) to avoid, run from, or fight against pain. In the midst of so much, one may find themselves avoiding, distracting, or shutting down.

Many of us are empathetic people and easily commit to helping others. Working to do what is right and doing this (right action) until it no longer needs to be done. It will take a strong resolve, in this climate, to manage all that is occurring  without succumbing to desensitization. We should never become callous to the pain of another and taking informed steps to protect both ourselves and others is a must. Remaining vigilant to the process of desensitization seems a necessary ingredient. It will take informed effort. Holding an understanding that desensitization is a normative response to painful content will help and, as stated,  being purposeful in your intention to maintain commitment to care for both self and other, will assist in this process.

We can protect ourselves and our larger world from desensitization through awareness, solid information, purposeful action, and self care.

Awareness, means maintaining awareness without saturation. It is important to know what is occurring in our larger world, community, and immediate environment. Holding these truths in mind, while making conscious choice in navigating what is occurring without singular focus is important. Further it is highly important to gain information from trusted sources (sources without vested interest) and to take purposeful action. Your own purposeful action will be unique to you. It may mean belonging to an organization, donating time or money to an organization, writing letters to the legislature, helping people in your life navigate this difficult time, living a life that models safety, awareness, kindness, and standing up for what is right. There are as many ways to take purposeful action as there are individuals. Lastly, as I often write about, it is important to actively engage in selfcare. Selfcare implies, adequate sleep, hydration, nutrition, exercise, relationship, engagement in hobbies that you love, and social and spiritual connection.

In my recent blog post Collective Pain and Unrest, A Change is Needed, Resources for taking direct action to assist families, legal pursuit, and social change were provided.  I will add these here and add known resources for Elijah McClain.  These resources are added along with National resources for protecting and supporting emotional health is this difficult time.

Please note, I was unable to locate a support page for Adrian Ingram-Lopez if you are aware please share it with me and I will add it to this post, or please post the resource in the comment section,

Change.org

Black Lives Matter 

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 

Justice for Elijah McClain      (Change,org)

Ahmaud Arbery: I run with Maud GO Fund Me: 


Justice for Ahmaud Arbery! I Run with Maud!- Legal Support

George Floyd Memorial Fund (Go Fund Me): Memorial fund 

The family of Mr. Floyd provided the following address in the event individuals may want to send support, cards, or letters.

The Estate of George Floyd: C/O Ben Crump Law, PLLC. 122 S. Calhoun St. Tallahassee, Fl 32301. Attention: Adner Marcelin

Scholarship and Unity Fund in Honor of Eric Garner: In support of families impacted by gun violence.

The Freddie Gray Fund: Family support and Memorial Fund.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation: A Non-Profit Organization for families who have lost a child to gun violence.

Tamir Rice Foundation: An after school growth and enrichment program for children, and police accountability Program.

National Supports: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-(800) 273-8255. The National Children’s Advocacy Center 1 (800) 422-4453 The SAMSHA Treatment Locator (for treatment of alcohol or substance addiction) 1 (800) 662-4357. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 787-3224. The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1 (800) 565-4673 TalkSpace https://lp.talkspace.com or Betterhelp  https://www.betterhelp.com

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed. It is further your responsibility when donating to ensure the privacy of your information and comfort with stated purposes of funding organizations and Go Fund me campaigns. LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW is not affiliated with the organizations provided.

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Collective Pain and Unrest, A Change is Needed.

In the aftermath, that is again racism unmasked in our country, pain, anger, and sorrow – culminating in outrage threaten to swallow us . The death of George Floyd has sparked years of collective pain as we (the American public) have watched it unfold in our own psyches and in communities across our country. There are no words I can write that will capture the depth of pain that is felt. Mr. Floyd’s death is as senseless and cruel as the racism it was born of.

In truth the abuse and blatant permissiveness and dismissiveness around the marginalization, mistreatment, and deaths of African American citizens is not new.  But, it has seemingly found new permissiveness (in our current political climate) and growing awareness through public documentation.

George Floyd (who is described as a gentle giant by his family) lost his life on May 25th, 2020 in Minneapolis Minnesota, as officers held him to the ground in a non-resisted arrest. His death follows the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery who was killed on February 23, 2020 in Brunswick Georgia, and Breonna Taylor on March 13th, 2020 in Louisville Kentucky. Mr. Arbery was killed while jogging in his own community by two armed men (father and son)  who have used various explanations to justify their unjustifiable actions. Ms. Taylor, was killed in her own home, when non-uniformed officers mistook her home for a residence suspected of selling controlled substances. It is now known that residence was more than 10 miles away.

We (the American Public) are only aware of deaths that make our national headlines. But, there are many more. Of deeper upset, in our country’s history, even when there is a public outcry a seeming return to non-awareness (in the midst of knowing) ensues. Senseless losses, hate filled enough to hit our public radar, have included the deaths of Walter Scott, Freddie Gray,  Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin. These are individuals that died all across our country and that should hold pain, with opportunity to make change, for all of us.

Walter Scott was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer on April, 4, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The fatal shooting occurred during a routine traffic stop. Freddie Gray died in police custody on April 12, 2015 in Baltimore Maryland. Eric Garner died after being fatally choked by a NYPD officer on July 17th, 2014. Tamir Rice, only 12 years of age, was shot and killed by law enforcement when the officer mistook Tamir’s toy gun for a real weapon on November 23, of 2014. And, Trayvon Martin, 17 years old, was fatally shot on February 26, 1995 when walking through a residential neighborhood in Sanford Florida. In truth African American deaths have been documented since the death of, 14 year old, Emmett Till in Money Mississippi. Emmett Till’s death occurred in August of 1955.

In December of 2015, The Guardian ran a news story entitled Young Black Men Killed by U.S. Police at highest rate in year of 1,134 deaths. This story documented the deaths of African American men during the year of 2015. It was noted that African American men between the ages of 15 and 34 (at that time) made up only 2% of the population but comprised more than 15% of deaths (at the hands of law enforcement) during that year alone. It was further reported that “one in. every 65 deaths of young African American men in the U.S. is a killing by police”.

Here we are again (or still) in 2020. Emmett Till senselessly died in 1955 for reportedly “whistling” at a white female. His death, fueled by anger, pain, and outrage, fueled the civil rights movement. A beginning!  Sixty -five years later George Floyd’s senseless murder painfully digs into that same vein of anger, pain, and outrage. Peaceful protests, turned non peaceful, have sprung up all across our country. Citizens demanding change, public officials making statements and some working to reassure that justice for George Floyd will be served.

As of today (May 31, 2020) the officer who was identified as the aggressor has been arrested and charged with 3rd degree murder. The legal strategy is understood but the charge seems minimal in comparison to the life that has been lost. 3 additional officers are involved. While there is hope all will be held accountable, to the very highest extent possible, it is not enough. The brutality and oppression that has accompanied simply being African American has lasted far too long. Hundreds of years in the making; the fire that George Floyd’s death has ignited began with slavery-a first act of oppression-in 1619. Our Civil War and the Civil Rights movement (hundreds of years apart) have paved the road. But not abolished the inequality and generational harm.

Martin Luther King Jr. further uncovered, named, and brought to light the core of injustice that has plagued America’s African American citizens. He began this journey in the mid 1950’s and lost his life to this fight for equality in 1968. Today he is memorialized for his incredible strength and forward movement in civil rights, but still we are here today. We have a duty as American Citizen’s to not allow a return to non-awareness in the midst of knowing. Mr. Floyd’s death and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray,  Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and most certainly Emmett Till should not be in vain. If we (as a larger society and it’s citizen’s) continue on in our non-awareness once the outcry has settled- we are complicit. We know!

The feeling of helplessness that exist is profound and it can seem that change may never occur. In truth there are things we can do. Both large and small. Change won’t happen quickly, but it can happen with each citizen’s care for the other and enough determination and strength to do what is right. The Huffington Post recently ran an article entitled, 11 things we can do Besides say “This Has to Stop” In the Wake of Police Brutality.

The article recognizes, as Angela Davis, has so eloquently stated, “It is not enough to not be a racist-you need to be antiracist”. The Post has interviewed Black Community Activists and provides tangible directives on turning “empathy into action in the wake of police brutality”.

I will provide the listed action steps (directly from the article above) and trust if you want to learn more about what each step entails, and do your part in making our world a safer place by working to end brutality, you will visit the article and decide which commitments you will make.

  1. If you see an act of police brutality happening, speak up. Safely make your presence known.
  2. Educate yourself without placing the burden on black people to be your teachers.
  3. Lean into your courage and push aside your caution.
  4. Engage with racist people you know. And, engage with your silent non-Black friends, too.
  5. Call the District Attorney’s office and other local government officials. Then show up at town hall and city council meetings.
  6. Pay close attention to how your local police department functions.
  7. Take the fight to your workplace.
  8. Do more listening than talking. When your Black friends give you constructive feedback, welcome it.
  9. Don’t think your off the hook because your also a minority.
  10. Donate to anti-white supremacy work, such as your local Black Lives Matter chapter.
  11. Check your own behaviors of policing Black people in your daily life.

All of these are solid systematic and (if more of us than not do them) systemically impactful actions.

I want to share the following in the event you are able and want to provide support to organizations that work to end police brutality and/or inequality and gun violence. You may find campaigns entitled Justice for George Floyd, Justice for Ahmaud Arbery, Justice for Breonna Taylor and The Walter Scott Notification Act, for Police Transparency, Accountability, and Change Act at Change.org. In addition, fund raising pages which support the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Freddie Gray, are provided as are organizations in memorial of, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice. In the event you are aware of additional resources please contact me and I will add them to this article or you may share them in the comments section of this writing. 

Change.org

Black Lives Matter 

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 

Ahmaud Arbery: I run with Maud GO Fund Me: 


Justice for Ahmaud Arbery! I Run with Maud!- Legal Support

George Floyd Memorial Fund (Go Fund Me): Memorial fund 

The family of Mr. Floyd provided the following address in the event individuals may want to send support, cards, or letters.

The Estate of George Floyd: C/O Ben Crump Law, PLLC. 122 S. Calhoun St. Tallahassee, Fl 32301. Attention: Adner Marcelin

Scholarship and Unity Fund in Honor of Eric Garner: In support of families impacted by gun violence.

The Freddie Gray Fund: Family support and Memorial Fund.

The Trayvon Martin Foundation: A Non-Profit Organization for families who have lost a child to gun violence.

Tamir Rice Foundation: An after school growth and enrichment program for children, and police accountability Program.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed. It is further your responsibility when donating to ensure the privacy of your information and comfort with stated purposes of funding organizations and Go Fund me campaigns. LaDonna Remy, MSW, LICSW is not affiliated with the organizations provided.

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Unchartered: Looking Within During Unsettling Times

It’s been a strange time for all of us over the last several months. As we “stay at home” or “shelter in place (no matter our political background or accompanying belief system) we all feel the impact of what is occurring around us. Differing views exist regarding balancing our nations health needs with economic and civil liberty needs. But, it doesn’t appear to matter which place one resides in this debate, when it comes to matters of emotional health. The simple truth is, we are all worried and unsure at varying levels and for the many reasons that accompany our views. When we (anyone of us) live under the stress of our current experiences we are prone to feel strong emotions. Further, it is normative to reach for coping that brings immediate relief. This will be true whether we are more prone to have strong feelings related to our own or other’s safety, economic worries for our family and larger society, or feelings of suppression. All (and many others) are plausible responses to the many unknowns around us.

We don’t know exactly what will happen, and as our leaders grapple with best approaches in managing the multi-layered impact of the virus, these unknowns are high lighted for us to see. When those in charge are unsure (whether this be a parent, teacher, minister, or leaders of the world) our trust and hope can be challenged. We have to work consciously (with awareness) to navigate the many emotions that come with this. This is much harder than it sounds.

It’s easy to react and subsequently respond by reaching for quick resolve to what is unwanted. This might occur in a number of ways. Some more harmful than others. There are many examples to choose from both positive and negative and each as individual as we are. These will be tied to what we feel and think, what our past experiences have been, the level of our distress, our ability to manage emotions, and our ability to stay aware. For the purpose of this writing, staying aware means taking that needed step back. Reflecting on what we are doing and why. Thinking about how we are impacting self and other. Thinking through our desired outcome.  And, making a (conscious) choice in navigating the need to immediately feel better.

I’m reluctant to give examples because the possibilities are so varied and endless. But, will provide a few noting that they are over simplified. One example might include, one who has the tendency to overthink. A difficulty in letting his or her thoughts settle. There might be colliding thoughts around personal safety and financial fears. This might cause feelings of anxiety manifesting in difficulty with sleep. Lack of sleep can cause many problems. (Too many to list). This person might rationalize, a drink at night might help. Out of (what seems like) a need to sleep a possible solution might be having a drink “just to take the edge off and get a little sleep”. Maybe this becomes a nightly habit, increasing from one to two, to three drinks by the time quarantine has ended. Maybe it doesn’t, but the potential for issues exist. In reality, the need was to feel less anxious. To work with what lies beneath the overthinking. Another (over simplified) example might revolve around someone who works very hard and has always identified with his or her professional self. Maybe this person gains a high sense of esteem through work. This is now threatened. It is unknown when work can resume and what it will look like when it does. Feelings of depression and anger set in. This person finds himself or herself lashing out at others. This isn’t wanted, but somewhere inside it brings a release. It feels better for a split second. Depending on this person’s psychological make-up and their ability to own mistakes, both self and relationships can suffer. Everyone, connected to this person,  is now left coping with the outcome of anger. This can grow in many directions.  In reality, working with the core emotions (possibly, anger, fear, grief) and the underlying issue (regarding identity) conscious choices can be made. Of course more extreme examples exist. These come in the form of direct self and other abuse.

It’s hard work to look at underlying issues. And, even harder work to remain conscious enough to take that reflective step back. After all, most have spent a lifetime (whether 78, 14, of 5 years) trying to avoid the feelings attached to any initial pains. (Those pains that possibly began in one’s early years). This pandemic and our leader’s responses are felt and interpreted differently by each one of us. It’s imaginable that emotional pain is boundless at this time. It’s important (paramount really) that we stay aware of this. As noted above, a formula for doing so exist. But, in reality it means looking within, sometimes struggling with what is there, and making choices (not just reacting) in response.

It’s worth mentioning that trauma statistics (prior to the pandemic) indicated 2/3 of America’s children had experienced at least one traumatic event during childhood. This is a statistic from The American Psychological Association and implies a high degree of trauma has and does occur. This (as is true of any statistic) is only gathered using reported data. It is anticipated, due to non reports around childhood trauma that there is a much higher rate of traumatic exposure. Further, traumatic incidents that involve victimization of children are most often perpetrated by someone the child knows and trust. This can leave a feeling of distrust or fear of those in charge (those who were to protect). This of course leaves many unresolved feelings. Feelings that are similar to those the pandemic  motivates in all of us. (Fear, distrust, loss, grief, longing, anger, hopelessness, and many more). When there is an early link to these feelings, through earlier experiences, current day happenings trigger (or resurface) those old feelings. When one is not aware of its foundation, reaching for coping (that is less healthy in nature) is much more likely.

In the example above, the second individual experiences anger, fear, and grief due to fear of losing his or her livelihood. This is a normal fear in this pandemic. Emotions are literally endless and free floating at this time. For the sake of example (note this is not based on a real individual) lets provide a name and gender. Let’s say John has worked hard his entire life. He is 56 years old and owns his own business. He is sheltering in place as advised. He is doing everything he has been asked to do. His business is losing revenue with each passing day and his overhead still has to be paid. He is worried. He is angry. He is scared. There is no answer in sight. He has to rely on our state and federal leadership to tell him what to do. To look out for him and his family. He is frustrated daily and begins to take his anger out on his wife and son. He doesn’t mean to. He swore he would “never act like my (his) old man”. But, he finds himself saying things he would never have said. Doing things he would never have done. His son is only 12. He doesn’t understand. This is coupled with his experience of placing trust in those in charge. His wife is hurt and begins to pull away. John grew up in a home with a dad who expected hard work and perfection. John wasn’t allowed to make mistakes. The only place his dad ever expressed pride was in John’s hard work. He could easily recall the things his dad had said and done, but he” just didn’t think of them all that often”. The truth is, while it is normal for John (or any of us) to feel unsettled by the occurrences of our world his own history escalates normative feelings-linking them to long ago. He acts without conscious thought. He acts to feelings with a foundational meaning for him. Feelings that echo the voice of his youth.  “you are a failure. You are weak” .There is nothing to be proud of. His wife and son are unaware of this, as is he. In reality, if John can identify the link to his past and his identity (the pain caused by his own unaware father) he can make better choices currently. This again, is not easy. But the longer-term consequences -could be detrimental for him and those who love him.

John’ story isn’t an uncommon one. As noted, there have been many  who have been exposed to child hood traumatization.  Further, it is not uncommon to push away and try to avoid these feelings. There may have been no one to help or no one who understood. Because these feelings couldn’t live on the surface, they had to be pushed down, to become a backdrop until they were no longer in conscious awareness.

This pandemic is unknown (unchartered) territory for our country’s leaders and for us. The feelings we are experiencing are normal. It is important that we make our emotional well being as important as every other aspect of our health. Not every person needs to seek counseling but every person would benefit from aware coping. This doesn’t imply hidden pain for everyone, but it does imply a need to take care of oneself and (for those with historical pain) it implies a deeper look.

The pandemic is traumatizing and depending on one’s particular circumstances, and supports, it can have far reaching impact.

As always, I am adding a list of resources.

Following are local and national crisis support services. Local Supports: The Spokane County Regional Crisis Line 1-(877) 288-1818. End Harm (Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line) 1 (800) 562-5624 The YWCA Domestic Violence Program (509) 326-1190. The Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Counsel (509) 922-8383 Lutheran Community Services Sexual Assault Crisis Line (509) 624-7273 Dial 211″ for additional resources.

National Supports: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-(800) 273-8255. The National Children’s Advocacy Center 1 (800) 422-4453 The SAMSHA Treatment Locator (for treatment of alcohol or substance addiction) 1 (800) 662-4357. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 787-3224. The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1 (800) 565-4673 TalkSpace https://lp.talkspace.com or Betterhelp  https://www.betterhelp.com

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Blog Image – WordPress Photo Library/Pexels.com


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Self Care in Times of Difficulty

woman sitting in a beach bench with her pet

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

As the world around us unfolds into a new reality, we too are required to change with what is taking shape. This unsettling reality, if one is paying attention, is highly painful. If you are paying attention you are intensely aware of the staggering multi-layered loss across our globe, the immediate impact on your community, those you love, and your own experience. Our current environment is laden with traumatic content. Even if you have had no prior experience with trauma and loss this current reality has the potential to impact your emotional well being and leave a lasting impact. For those who have been exposed to trauma, in their own history, an increased possibility of experiencing trauma symptomatology would be highly likely. We, as humans, are equipped with an internal system which aides us in times of danger. This, in simplistic terms, is known as the stress response. The “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction to perceived or real danger. During threat our brains and bodies work in unison to help us respond to the current threat or stressor. At this current time, we are living with daily prolonged stress. Many of us are in “shelter in place” or “stay at home orders”. We may be ill or fear becoming ill, some one we love may be ill, or we may be losing or have already lost someone. We may be experiencing, hearing of, or living in fear of impending financial stress. We may be physically disconnected from those we love or relied upon for social and spiritual contact. And, many other possible scenarios. Our worlds (in a very short time) have become very limited, with an immediate stressor outside and around us, and with very little researched information on what to expect. These are traumatic happenings. This is true whether we are experiencing it first hand or hearing about it on a daily basis. And, as is normal our bodies and brains will work, to the very best of their ability, to help us manage. The primary issue with prolonged or chronic stress is that our body’s natural defense (it’s stress response) can (again in simplistic terms) become overworked and depleted. It can, in essence, become stuck in overdrive. If this occurs, other issues will follow. For those who have been previously exposed (dependent on healing opportunities that have occurred and current supports) a re-emergence (triggering) of symptomatology can occur. Reactions to and symptoms of trauma are always on a continuum and always very individualized. But, in truth whether we have been previously exposed to trauma and loss or if this is a new experience for us what is occurring now has the potential to be traumatizing for many. Due to this, the implication for longer term emotional and physical health issues exist. It is normal during periods of high stress to reach for that which brings quick relief. The intention is to stop the pain of inner turmoil. This has already, in the few short months the pandemic has been a reality, lead to increased rates of over dose, suicidality, and victimization of vulnerable others. It is anticipated these issues will continue to rise. General reactions to trauma include (but are not limited to),anxiety and worry, depression, difficulty with concentration and memory, feeling detached or overwhelmed, experiencing sleep distress, avoidance, irritability, anger outbursts, over or under alertness, physical pains, increased startle response, irrational fear, overthinking, intrusive unwanted thoughts and feelings, impending sense of doom, hopelessness, helplessness, thoughts of self harm, and /or beliefs that yourself, others, or the larger world are unsafe, bad, can’t be trusted, and many others. You may find that you are experiencing some of the reactions to (or symptoms of) trauma. This would not be considered abnormal in our current climate. In instances where symptoms interfere with normative functioning accessing support in the form of counseling is highly recommended. This is an important step for both yourself and those you love. While it is true we can’t change what is happening around us, we can be intentional in how we navigate this time in our lives. It is this intentional effort that will help lessen longer term impact. And, while it sounds almost too simple the best things we can do are very basic things. Further, very basic things done on a consistent basis. It is highly important that we are limiting and balancing our news intake, staying hydrated, getting uninterrupted and enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, getting daily exercise, resting (meaning relaxing or doing activities that bring us peace), engaging in (in the ways we currently can) connection with self, other, and our (as we know it) higher self or power. And, most importantly finding ways to express what we are experiencing in response to the changing world around us. Overall it is important that we make well-being a priority. This is true whether you are experiencing normative reactions to traumatic happenings, or if you are experiencing symptoms that are causing higher level distress. Again, in these instances it is important to seek the support of your medical or behavioral health provider. Local and national resources follow. Lastly, there are many among us who aren’t able to safely shelter in place . They don’t have the option to stay home. Doing what we realistically can to help others lessens their fear and burdens and is a solid way to maintain a sense of connection and hope for them and you.

 

Following are local and national crisis support services.Local Supports: The Spokane County Regional Crisis Line 1-(877) 288-1818. End Harm (Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line) 1 (800) 562-5624 The YWCA Domestic Violence Program (509) 326-1190. The Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Counsel (509) 922-8383 Lutheran Community Services Sexual Assault Crisis Line (509) 624-7273 Dial 211″ for additional resources.

National Supports: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-(800) 273-8255. The National Children’s Advocacy Center 1 (800) 422-4453 The SAMSHA Treatment Locator (for treatment of alcohol or substance addiction) 1 (800) 662-4357. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 787-3224. The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1 (800) 565-4673 

 

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.
 
Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

 

Blog Image – WordPress Photo Library/Pexels.com

 


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Grief’s unique Hold

 

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach

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While there are commonalities in experience, grief’s manifestation is unique to each person. There is not one other living being who will understand exactly how you feel or the subtleties of your unique connection. No other person; knew your person, your pet, or your situation in the exact way you did ( and do). They do not know the many nuances that existed between them and you. They cant know what made them uniquely them, you uniquely you, and your connection uniquely yours. It is these nuances of relationship that make this process both complex and sacred. And, this is as it should be.

It is a process that can’t be rushed, at times won’t find comfort, and that must be honoring of you and your important other or situation. Take your time and know in whatever way you need to make sense of your loss, it is ok. It was your connection – it belonged ( and belongs) uniquely to you.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.
Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

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Loving an Addict; Author Unkown

“Sometimes love hurts especially when we see loved ones heading for danger. We call out to them, “Watch out!” We grab at them and try to bring them back to a safe place. But they don’t listen. They break loose, ignoring our warnings. And we must stand on safe ground and let them go to learn the hard way. And if our love is enduring, we stand with open arms to welcome them back when they finally decide-I am finished with danger-I must go home. And if our love is true, we do not hold onto “I told you so, but “I love you so”

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

http://www.nar-anon.org

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A Necessary Sadness!

At times we carry a heaviness for the pain of others, and our unknown selves. We carry it, often unaware. It’s just there. A sadness for someone we love, for a neighbor’s pain ,for our own un-named pain, for humanity. There is a tendency in our american society to avoid this pain. To push it away, to judge it, to avoid it at any cost. This avoidance in itself, is sad.This can lead to an avoidance of ones own internal world and others in general. Not acknowledging feelings is a barrier to connecting, to non-judgement, and to acceptance of ourselves and others.

It is necessary to feel sadness (and the range of other emotions). It is necessary for our own growth and connection with others. Learning to live in a place of known pain is difficult but the toll it (not feeling) takes on our emotional, physical, and relational health is far reaching. There is a tendency to believe that feeling sadness (or other difficult emotions)means something is wrong with us. In reality, it doesn’t mean this at all. It means we are feeling/empathizing/connecting. That’s it. That is all it means.

It is not only important to learn to sit with feelings for psychological purposes; it is important for physical and relational purposes. In essence, learning to connect with what is felt is highly correlated to health and well being.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Joni Edelman: Adult Children of Alcoholics I’m

The following article is by author Joni Edelman. Her writing does much to normalize the experiences, internal world, and often outcomes of adult children of alcoholics.

There are many adults among us — many of whom you might not recognize — with intimate knowledge of what it’s like to grow up with an addicted parent. Sadly, there are also many people who love those adults and don’t know what it is like to have become an adult who was once a child raised amongst chaos. For many of us, our entire childhood was swathed in dysfunction. As development goes, the severe dysfunction of our childhood probably resulted in severely delayed or stunted emotional growth.

Being the child of an addict is complicated, and we can’t always verbalize how so. Even if we’ve had enough therapy to buy our psychiatrist a boat, we still may not even know we are dysfunctional. Bear with us as we continue the work of figuring it all out.

Here are the 10 things we’d like you to know — even if we can’t articulate them:

1. We don’t know “normal.” Normal is a relative term, yes. But our normal is not on the relativity scale. Normal for us can include instability, fear, even abuse. Normal might be a parent passed out in their own vomit. Normal might be taking care of your household, your siblings, your parent(s), and very rarely yourself. This profound lack of understanding leads us to the conclusion that normal = perfect, and less than perfect is unacceptable. Perfect is a non-negotiable term — there are no blurred lines. It’s all or nothing.

2. We are afraid. A lot of the time. And the fear is hidden — sometimes very deeply. We are afraid of the future, specifically the unknown. The unknown was our reality for many years. We may not have known where our parents were, or when they’d return. We might not have known if there would be dinner or drunkenness. While we may know now that those things aren’t likely to happen, that doesn’t make life any less terrifying. This fear may express itself in a number of ways, everything from anger to tears. We probably won’t recognize it as fear.

3. We are afraid (part 2: children). We are afraid to have children and when we do, we are afraid to wreck them, like we are wrecked. If we can acknowledge our own damage, we definitely don’t want to inflict it on anyone else. We don’t really know how to be a parent. It’s actually panic inducing. We will second-guess everything we do and may over-parent for fear of under-parenting.

4. We feel guilty. About everything. We don’t understand self-care. We don’t have clear-cut boundaries. If we stand up for ourselves, we feel guilty. If we take care of ourselves, we feel guilty. Our life is built on a foundation of I give to you and receive nothing. We don’t know how to receive.

5. We are controlling. Because we don’t know normal, and because we are afraid, we may often seek to exert control over anything and everything around us. This can manifest itself in our homes, our work, or our relationships. We may often be inflexible. We don’t usually see this as dysfunction. We will likely frame this as a strength.

6. We are perfectionists. We are terribly critical of ourselves — of every detail. Because of this internal dialogue of self-loathing, we are often sensitive to criticism from others. This is deeply-seated fear of rejection. Please pause, if you are able, and choose your words with compassion. We may have lacked for love. We need it.

7. We had no peace in our childhood. We don’t know peace. This is ironic, because we believe only in perfection and yet we create chaos. Chaos, stress, unrest: these are comfortable for us. We feel at home in these circumstances, not because they are healthy, but because they feel normal.

8. We are in charge of everything — even if we don’t want to be (but we always want to be). This manifests itself mostly in female daughters and especially the oldest female daughters of an addict mother (we have our own books, even). Because these women — like myself — have been forced to take on the responsibilities of the incapable parent(s), they will be the first person to take on everything — to their own detriment. Responsibility is the name of the game. And we will take responsibility for everyone; their emotions, their needs, their lives. In fact, it’s easier to take responsibility for everyone else than even ourselves.

9. We seek approval. Constantly. Our self-esteem is exceptionally low. Our addicted parents were unable to provide the love and nurturing we required to form secure attachment. As such, we will seek that in all our relationships going forward. All of them. This need for approval manifests itself in generally self-sacrificing behavior. We will give to our own detriment. Please remind us to take care of ourselves, too.

10. We live in conflict. We want to be perfect, but we can’t because we are paralyzed by fear. We want to control our surroundings, but we desperately want to be taken care of. We desperately want to be self-assured, because we know that’s the key to the control we seek, but we can’t be self-assured because we grew up believing we had no worth.

If we have chosen you as a partner, or even a dear friend, we may see either a situation that requires our keen ability to pick up the mess, or we may see someone who can love us back to health. Neither of these is a particularly sound choice. We don’t know. We don’t care.

While intellectually we may know that it is our responsibility to manage our feelings, our intellect doesn’t always align itself with our emotions. We may be frail, frightened, scared, lonely, angry, or clingy. We may be all of those things at once.

We don’t mean to be, we probably don’t even know we are.

This story by Joni Edelman first appeared at ravishly.com, an alternative news+culture women’s website.

Note: This is a post sharing another’s work.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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Words of Wisdom

Show up! Pay attention! Tell the truth! And, let go of the results!

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Blog Image, Pinterest.

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The Voice for Adoption Coalition: Raising awareness for adopted children and families.

One would believe that most families who adopt make this decision based on the belief they have something to offer a child who has lost his/her primary family. Just as one would believe; a birth parent wants to love and nurture their own child.

In most cases, these are true statements. Most people want the best, and intend the best for children. Their own and others. In some cases people are so profoundly harmed themselves that they are not able (or even possibly willing) to provide care to a child. Their best may be harmful. A sad reality of the many complications of (most likely) childhoods ravaged with harm and unmet need.

In this writer’s work children and families are met at various stages of adoption. Stages can include; a child in an initial placement who is still connected to his or her biological family. The family at various stages of reunification. A child who is in foster care. His or her family rights terminated or voluntarily relinquished. He or she (the child) may be in his or her -first or fifteenth placement in foster care. A child who has an adopted family identified and the family who has made this initial commitment. A child who is adopted and the family who has adopted. And, a child (of any age, and any placement history) who is adopted and his or her adopted family members.

The families and children are also met at various stages of struggle.They have sought services, or are mandated to attend services, with the goal (and hope) of finding answers. These services are therapeutic in nature and ideally provide avenues to support their child’s needs, learn new relational concepts, behavioral strategies, gain an improved understanding of their child’s inner world and struggles, gain and understanding of their own internal realties and struggles, and make the changes necessary to sustain and improve the quality of relationship and the life of the child they have committed to.

This is Ideally what is to occur. And, in many cases this does occur. Parents, at various stages of placement, are able to engage in the difficult work of supporting children who have been exposed to traumatic impact, loss of belonging, and who come with the many layers of self protection that show up as clinical diagnosis, adaptive, emotional, behavioral, social challenges, and high levels of relational fear. These parents are often capable of empathizing with the child’s experience, can attune to the needs of his or her (or their) child, and buffer the impact of childhood trauma (http://childtrauma.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/DobsonPerry_GilBook_2010.pdf). They are often willing to look at their own struggles with their children and look squarely into the eye of how this came to be for them. They work to stay conscious of themselves in the process of parenting a child who has, at his or her core, been harmed and is both in need of and afraid of connection.

This is not every parent and child’s capacity. Sometimes parent’s cannot understand the child’s need or experience. Sometimes the child’s need is large and their need to distance profound. This coupled with the parents capacity (often based on their experience of childhood adversity or lack of safe and nurturing relationship) is not able to maintain safe presence and provide a secure foundation for their child. The child will inevitably know this and respond with his or her best survival strategies.

These are not statements of blame. Every person has inherent strengths and struggles, and has created his or her own unique attachment (survival) strategy. These are statements of reality. The reality that impaired attachments (attachment abilities and/or strategies) consistently lead to initial placements, often subsequent and multiple placements into foster care, relinquishment or termination of parental rights, disrupted adoption, and recently the profoundly damaging and, at its worst, the harmful practice of re-homing. http://www.reuters.com

In the United states 10-25 % of adoptions fail. Children who were initially placed and in need of a safe place continue to be harmed. This harm can be in many forms (emotional, physical, behavioral, social, and relational). In addition, the recent trend known as re-homing internationally adopted children is in process. Due to the fact that this is a largely individual practice (not overseen by an identified agency) there are no viable statistics in regard to re-homing.

Overall, supporting and strengthening biological children and families is crucial. Provision of solid needs assessments and interventions is a must, prior to termination or relinquishment. Once a child is placed and adoptive placements sought, informed practice is essential. And, when a child finds (what is often deemed his or her “forever home”) it is imperative that solid assessments and on going supports are provided to adoptive families so this can be a reality for him or her.

The Voice for Adoption Coalition www.voice-for-adoption.org is a dedicated group of adoption and child welfare partners who have committed to raising awareness to the critical needs of adopted children and families.The coalition has made recommendations to inform and encourage federal policy makers to implement strategies and change foundational thinking in regard to how adopted children and their families are supported. In essence, the coalition recognizes the crucial need to provide on-going support to adopted families in the form informed practice, tax credits, access to informed services, and on-going advocacy. Support that may help to facilitate informed practice in regard to aiding parents in maintaining initial commitments, and aiding children in maintaining safe relationships in their “forever home” and becoming safe, happy, well adjusted, and contributing members of our larger society.

The Coalition has cited the Reuters reports in regard to the recent practice of re-homing internationally adopted children, as foundational support for their policy recommendations. Please see the Coalitions informed and thoughtful recommendations at www.voice-for-adoption.org.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. Please note, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

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