Chauvinistic and Caustic Culture
Let's face it. We traumatized child-loss grievers are not gonna get any help out there in the civilian world for our "grief war." We have a very chauvinistic and caustic culture when it comes to emotional pain. Not only are we NOT treated tenderly as any grieving parent would deserve, but we are treated downright coldly as my poem yesterday described.
What is behind this "Get Over It" mentality coming at us? Why the push for us to "Move on!"? Why the desire in the naive but "oh-so-wise" who think they need to give us some advice in how to handle our grief?
Our society doesn't want to recognize that death really happens. Our culture and even our churches (or should I say, especially our churches) do not want to recognize that death happens. Or if it does happen, you should be over it in a week or so, so that they won't have to think about it any more.
People in our society would rather deny, minimize, or blow off the death of a child; it hurts too much for them to even think about it ~ so, for sure they don't want us to "make" them climb down in that pain with us. So we get the message,
"You just need to get over it and be happy like I am. (Then I won't have to feel bad for you anymore, and I can get on with my life.)"
Our society also is full of people who do everything they know to avoid dealing with emotional pain in general. We have workaholics, frenetic activity seekers, thrill seekers, or any of a number of obsessive activities in which we can distract ourselves to death. Anything to keep from feeling emotional pain.
From sex addicts to alcoholics, gamblers to those exhibiting eating disorders, to those addicted to drugs of all kinds, it seems we are always finding novel ways to self-destruct, even sniffing glue, sniffing paint, or playing what some call "the choking game"! A case could be made for all of these destructive behaviors being utilized for the purpose of numbing ourselves from emotional pain.
Many even have a blatant and abject disgust for anyone going through a weakened state of any kind. It is like our t.v. mentality has set us up to think that anything bad or painful someone is enduring should be resolved within thirty minutes or less!
Tommy and I are at a Trauma Seminar in Atlanta, Georgia for several days. Today, we heard from Colin Ross, M.D., a premier expert on dissociation, which is the "disorder" that comes when many of us have been exposed to severe trauma such that our systems are so overwhelmed, they have to essentially "run away" from the painful reality just to be able to cope with life itself. Though this "disorder" can be a God-send for the victim of major trauma, there comes a time when we need to put the pieces back together, facing them one by one so that we may become whole again.
Many psychological disorders, Ross says, are the subconscious attempt of our "wounded inner child" to distract us, numb us, even fill our minds with "magical thinking" so that what was evil and bad in our lives can be white-washed into "what we wish the outcome could be" instead of having to face the vile reality into which we often have been thrown. So, unwittingly, we oft may be making ourselves emotionally ill just to avoid the inevitable pain we must face in our lives!
Ross says, like the alcoholic who finally realizes he must "say 'no' to his drug" and set about working through his "12 steps," so too, we must give up, or "say 'no' to" whatever has become our "numbing" agent, and do the real work to grapple with that evil reality which has intruded upon our lives, whatever it is.
We have to learn to rescue ourselves. As he says, the problem with any addiction or numbing agent is that it is essentially an avoidant strategy. And as long as we are suppressing the truth and not dealing with it, there is no "cure." If we suppress the truth, shut it down, and put a lid on it, it cannot come out into the light where it could be healed. Then there is no comfort for it. There is no healing pathway. There is no help to be found.
And it is going to be the rare and exceptional person who can face these toxic realities head on, learn to accept them, and learn to get genuine comfort for our wounded selves.
And it will be the even more exceptional and rare person indeed who can be supportive of, and tender to us in our grappling with the hell into which we have been thrown with our severe circumstances that come with our child-loss.