As a child trauma specialist, I have spent my entire career addressing child maltreatment, delinquency, violence, and a variety of tragic circumstances which too often envelop a child’s innocent life……extreme poverty, abandonment, neglect, rape and assault, discrimination, war, mental illness, drugs, disease, abuse, and insidious, disenfranchising stereotypes. This is stressful stuff, but my passion and belief that every child deserves a happy (yes, I said happy) childhood leads me to continue to labor in this demanding and difficult professional vineyard.
Recently I got sidetracked. The agency is hosting a fundraiser to serve poor children who come to school in this ever so affluent region without a coat, with dental needs, without food at home, needing eyeglasses to read. The schools throughout the region need more funds to tackle the increasing needs of children in their classrooms. We finalized the marketing materials announcing the event, but somehow, with one press of one computer key, we let the solicitation go to thousands with transposed text. Instead of promoting “extraordinary wines,” we referred to “extraordinary wives.” Appalled, we corrected the mistake and immediately resent the invitation to the same thousands.
Talk about stress. Talk about trauma. The irrationalities abound. In my circle, there were those who were simply upset because they wanted to be loved. They wish to please others at nearly all costs. How could they be lovable if others are unhappy about the mistake? There were those who were devastated that this had occurred in the first place. Let’s fix this now and never have it happen again. We must be perfect or we are not lovable. Still others were simply upset about being questioned about their role in not picking up on the typo in the first place. They just shut down.
As I think about the terror that seems to surround us all these days, I wonder how many of us do not see what is going on around us because of our priorities. Does a typo really matter? How many adults are so stressed by their daily lives that their children do not want to grow up? In an era of change, chaos, and mass instant communication, all too often we pursue achieving an elusive sense of having control over something. Our eyes focus downward on rapid-fire texts or sideways on mobile phones with their email apps. The private terror that emerged last week as a 28-year-old disturbed mother
disclosed that she had killed her children while “assassinating demons,” or the very public nightmare that occurred this weekend in a well appointed suburban shopping mall, resulting in three dead and a devastated community, should better inform and redirect our preoccupations. What is going on in our society, and not just this week? What needs to change urgently and how long can we all tolerate this?
It is truly time to talk about real stress. To talk about real trauma. The irrationalities abound.