Monthly Archives: February 2020

Shrapnel – Trauma Beliefs

Shrapnel fragments visible on x-ray, Author Hellerhoff (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING: Graphic Images

The sharp, jagged, metal fragments from an exploding bomb, grenade, or landmine are known as shrapnel.

Shrapnel wounds require special care.  Initially, these are open puncture wounds, with impaled objects so hot that medical personnel are strictly advised to leave them in place. Pressure on shrapnel wounds must be avoided, as this will only cause more damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

After it cools, some shrapnel can be removed surgically [1].  Often, however, surgery would do more harm than good.  There may be hundreds or thousands of small objects.

Over the years, fragments left behind can migrate within the body, making them still harder to find and access.  It is not unusual for shrapnel to remain imbedded for decades [2].

Trauma Beliefs

The same is true for trauma beliefs. When children undergo trauma, they experience strong emotions.  Like scorching metal fragments, these searing emotions highlight the traumatic event.

But children, also, draw conclusions from trauma.  This is their attempt to make sense of the world.  Unfortunately, the conclusions children draw may not be accurate [3].

Since the traumatic event is not fully understood, the child cannot fully process it. Instead, the emotions and faulty conclusions surrounding the trauma remain sharp, jagged, and are re-experienced, again and again.

This happens even after conscious memory of the event has faded.  Like shrapnel, trauma beliefs  remain in the body, and continue to do harm.

False Core Beliefs

Having been abandoned as children, we may fear that others will leave us as adults. Having been abused as children, we may believe ourselves unworthy of love as adults. These core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us may never be vocalized, never questioned.  But they are deeply held.

Trauma beliefs “feel” accurate not because they are, but because we have held them for so long [4].  They “feel” protective, but are actually self-sabotaging [5]. Continue reading

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Foster Care – A Failed System

Changes in Congregate Care in 8 States (9/30/04-9/30/13), Author US Govt. Accountability Office (GAO), Source https://www.gao.gov, (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Reporting by the Washington Post confirms what the public has long known.  Our foster care system is failing, nationwide.

One major flaw involves the use of detention centers and similar facilities to house children who have committed no infraction whatsoever [1A].

Warehousing

“…in an era when a surging number of biological parents are falling into the grips of drug addiction, and child welfare systems are struggling with a shortage of foster parents…case workers and courts have been funneling children into crowded emergency shelters, hotels, out-of-state institutions and youth prisons — cold, isolating and often dangerous facilities not built to house innocent children for years [1B].”

Both literally and figuratively, children taken into foster care for their own protection are instead being warehoused with rapists and murderers.  Some are forced to sleep on cement floors with harsh fluorescent lights on during lockdowns.

Scope of the Failure

Because foster care is decentralized, accurate figures are difficult to come by.

As of 2013, approximately 56,000 of the 400,000 children in foster care across the country (14% of the foster care population) were living in what is known as “congregate” care – group homes, detention centers, residential drug treatment facilities, and the like [2].  In West Virginia, fully 71% of 6800 foster children between the ages of 12 and 17 have been relegated to such institutions [1C].

The Opioid Crisis is greatly increasing those numbers. Continue reading

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Becoming Ourselves

It has been said that we become more ourselves, as we grow older.  Superficial beauty fades, and a softer (or, in some cases, starker) beauty takes its place.  This incorporates our scars, evidence of the life we have lived, with and without our consent.

We long, in youth, to be part of a larger whole – the beloved or a noble cause, perhaps.  The paths we take determine greatly – and depend greatly on – whether or not that happens.

The heart calls us to venues and ventures we would never have thought ourselves capable of pursuing, let alone achieving.  Sometimes though it seems we are being led.  Not by our desires alone, but by some external force.

“…[H]e made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver” (Isa. 49: 2).

Most of us must deal with tragedy, along the way.  Some lives are cut short by it.  Grief and loss can arise from many causes in this imperfect world:  abuse, racism, poverty, and violence, to name a few.

We are shaped by these experiences, and can be broken by them.  Chances are, we will be forced to make difficult choices.  Almost everyone is.

For a tree branch to be made into an arrow, it must be stripped of leaves (John 15: 2); fired, so as to become pliable (Isa. 48: 10, Rom. 5: 3 and 8: 28, James 1: 2-4, 1 Pet. 1: 6-7); straightened (Eph. 2: 21 and 4: 15-16, Heb. 10: 24-25); sanded (Heb. 12: 7-11); and oiled (Ps. 104: 15, Gal. 5: 22-23, Eph. 5: 18) [1].

Ultimately, the arrow finds its target.  So, too, will our lives, in God’s hands, find their intended target…even if that target is not what we originally supposed.

We can rely on that.

[1]   All credit for this information about arrow construction, and the biblical citations associated with it goes to Fountaingate Christian Foundation. See, ChurchLink, Bible Study Warehouse, Series:  The Call – Lesson 7,  “Preparation for Ministry”,  http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/bible_studies/call/call7.html. Copyright © 1981, 1996 Paul Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved.

Originally posted 7/10/16

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

 

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Vincent

“Self-Portrait” by Vincent van Gogh (1889), National Gallery of Art (Accession No. 1998.74.5), Source https://artsandculture.google.com (PD-Art, PD-old)

The artist Vincent van Gogh led a tragic life.  His art – now lauded – was ahead of its time, and unappreciated by the public.  Tormented by loneliness, Vincent longed desperately for love and friendship, but had difficulty with both.

However, Vincent and his brother, Theo, were extremely close.  Amsterdam’s van Gogh Museum is holding an exhibition in which contemporary artists and writers have responded to the hundreds of letters Vincent wrote Theo.  In these letters, Vincent movingly described his hopes and fears.  See, https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/01/van-gogh-purpose-letter/  and  https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/07/vincent-van-gogh-art-love-letters/ .

Below is an excerpt from the letter novelist, Nicole Krauss crafted [1].  I believe abuse victims may find it helpful.

“Dear Vincent,

You write about fear:  Fear of the blank canvas, but also, on a larger scale, of the ‘infinitely meaningless, discouraging blank side’ that life itself always turns toward us…

Repeating Old Patterns

It’s a strange thing about the human mind that, despite its capacity and its abundant freedom, its default is to function in a repeating pattern.  It watches…the days and seasons, the cycle of life and death all going around in an endless loop, and unconsciously…echoes these cycles.  Its thoughts go in loops, repeating patterns established so long ago we often can’t remember their origin, or why they ever made sense to us.  And even when these loops fail over and over again to bring us to a desirable place, even while they entrap us… [we] still find it nearly impossible to resist them.  We call these patterns of thought our ‘nature’ and resign ourselves to being governed by them as if they are the result of a force outside of us…

Breaking with the Past

And yet it is unquestionably within our power to break the loop…by choosing to think — and to see, and act — in a different way.  It may require enormous effort and focus.  And yet for the most part it isn’t laziness that stops us from breaking these loops, it’s fear…

Fear

And so before we can arrive at the act of breaking, we first have to confront our fear.  The fear that the blank canvas and the blank side of life reflects back to us, which is so paralyzing, as you put it, and seems to tell us that ‘we can’t do anything.’  It’s an abstract fear, though it finds a way to take on endless shapes.  Today it may be the fear of failure, but tomorrow it will be the fear of what others will think of us, and at a different time it will be fear of discovering that the worst things we suspect about ourselves are true… Continue reading

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