We make fun of buzz words, I know, but trauma is something that’s really weighing on my mind as we head back to another school year.
Last summer, as a lot of you know, while my husband was traveling overseas with high schoolers, I got a call from a caring and kind family member, who mentioned that my mother-in-law hadn’t answered her phone. This has happened before, and I had just seen her the night before last, and she had a Life Alert, so I wasn’t worried at first.
But an hour later, when I used our spare key to open the door to her house, I had never been so grateful that I had called in emergency help to watch my kids while I went over to check.
My mother-in-law was in her bed, but she wasn’t alive any longer. She had had a massive stroke overnight. I crawled up in bed with her and kissed her face and then got back out and screamed, and, honestly, I haven’t been the same since.
Going back into that house made me so physically ill that I would shake. The first time I went back in, to get something for the funeral home, I came out and vomited in the front lawn. Then, I sat in my car, shaking and crying, and wishing I could call my husband and talk to him, or maybe just be beamed up out of there.
I think of what police officers and firefighters and EMTs and our armed forces see every day and I just close my eyes and feel my heart starting to physically hurt. I think of what therapists and psychiatrists and our school psychologist and guidance counselor hear and see and know.
I think about how I am an adult, with resources-I’ve read books, and talked and written about it, and seen a therapist, and I still have moments. This morning, for example, I woke up and looked over at my still-sleeping husband. There was something about the way he was lying across the bed that reminded me of that scene, and I had an “attack”. I had to put my head between my knees so I could breathe.
And then, I think about what some of our children have seen or lived through. And how they come to school and most of the time we don’t even know. When I was a kid in school, no one ever would have known how big the fights between my parents were, or that I had been called a “cry baby-bitch” the night before, and those things are MILD compared to what some children go through.
I’ve been through training with trauma informed care for education, and, like I said above, I’m glad it’s a “buzz word” and that people are talking about it, but I still feel lost. I still feel like I can’t accomplish enough. I still feel like I’m letting all these kids down.
Do any of you work with children/adults who have experienced trauma? What about when you expect they have, but don’t know? How do I love and care and be there, but keep my own emotions safe in a professional way?
I’d love your ideas, resources, and suggestions!
Thank you to ALL of you out there who help others–you are the true heroes, yo.