I’ve been writing a bit lately and i see references to the ephemeral dotting that wordy landscape.
When I was pouring coffee just now I pondered this.
What kind of life am I leading where things are ephemeral?
I got a couple of viable answers.
One was that life is that way.
Another had to do with disenfranchisement.
Oh, I thought, that.
So, let’s stay there for a minute in that italicized world where things go tilt and fly by like a stray newspaper in a nice gusty wind…
here’s what my full coffee cup had to say this a.m…
you have residual PTSD.
you were a child in the 60’s
I had not gotten this angle of it before. not really.
I had gotten plenty else to do with that. the 60s i mean…
I got this notion of how to dress that won’t go away and has become at times a source of social pain
I got an inability to wear make-up even though i could certainly use it
as a charitable act for others and self
I got a nice sense of poetry from Bob Dylan, et al—that works
and I got access to a Jackson Brown kind of thing that really graced my young womanhood and I will always be grateful for that vivid cellular memory….i plan to use it in my exit plan, just to drift…
there’s lots. lots of good things.
i am proud to have been a pioneer baby, teen, young woman…
social experiments are cool
they are also other things.
they also bring other things.
ask Dr. Leary.
social experiments and social/cultural revolution brought me something else
that’s a clinical thing, sadly
I realized this morning that I have PTSD that works like this:
I have the unshake-able idea that at the peak of joyous social change really bad and really sad things are going to happen.
I got the notion (suddenly not so ephemeral and italicized) that revolution costs enormous, sad, tragic, life-long, not so great life-altering costs.
I am a child of the 60’s. Please forgive me.
Please forgive me, i wanted to say as my friends celebrated the president elect’s success.
I am wounded. I am not so optimistic.
I am filled with conspiracy theories and visions of riots.
I could recognize that aerial shot of Detroit burning anywhere.
I memorized it.
I made myself.
I don’t know why.
Maybe I was frozen like they say and had no choice but to look, but it didn’t feel that way. I had to look. I knew that this was very important and I had to learn it. I remember thinking that, but I don’t know when exactly except during the news…..
I can’t remember the day, what else was going on in my life or even, right now, what grade I was in.
It should be easy to piece all that together.
I know the year, but
here’s how trauma works:
it alters the brain.
it alters its ability to function properly.
i can’t do the math,
but i see that aerial shot. i see it in great detail.
it’s the same with other traumas of my life.
i can’t, for example, tell you when my mother died.
i can guesstimate within a few years of accuracy.
i just can’t do the math.
i could get the information on all these things easily.
i’m just not going to do it.
that’s another way trauma works.
avoidance is not always a comfortable and easy thing.
we like to blame the avoiders. we like to think they are escaping this hard work the rest of us are doing when we confront and stick around.
that ain’t necessarily so.
there’s pain in avoidance.
there’s even more pain when you realize it’s pretty involuntary and compulsory.
avoidance can be harder than confrontation, responsibility, duty and accountability. It has been for me.
Duty comes easily in my life. Commitment to causes comes easily.
I’m sure that’s a remnant, too.
Relationships? well, that’s a different story.
A sexual/gender role revolution can be a mixed blessing for a child/pre-teen/teen/young adult/adult/middle-adult/aging adult…
That’s another thing to take to the pier and let the slow, warm waters of the gulf wash away…
I am so wounded by the losses there.
That is another crippling sadness.
That is another remnant of my era.
i want to insert something about addicts here, but i’m tired to death of that.
i’ve been on a mission since the 60’s to be an addict, recover from being an addict and to help other addicts.
i’m sick to death of it. This morning I don’t care who wants to use dope. This morning I am sick to death of caring about other people.
This morning I am, yes, a compassion fatigue casualty, but more, this morning I realize that I am of a generation hell-bent on compassion fatigue crash and burn.
We flew into our own towers.
We didn’t mean to, but there we were.
Here a lot of us still are.
Vietnam vets were not the only casualities of that era.
There are many adult children of the 60’s still around.
A lot of us are scared right now.
You’ll have to forgive us.
We got called in from recess because the Russians were coming to drop mushroom clouds on our school.
The president had been shot.
There was a silence I had never heard before.
I can’t do the math, but I remember a silent tunnel that I was running through.
I was little enough to be on the slide.
I was big enough to be on the big slide.
I remember running as fast as I could when the teacher’s face looked like that.
I knew it was something more terrible than anything ever.
Somehow, it made me afraid for my daddy.
I thought he might be dead.
When bad things happened he went there with shotguns.
He might not come home from work every day anyway, but on this day…
When the really bad guys were loose he really might not come home today ever… surer than everyday when he might not.
This day for sure.
This day for sure.
This day for sure.
This is the way the math dies.
This is the way trauma works.
You will have to forgive me.
I was a child in the 60’s.
It hurt me.
I almost got lost.
I didn’t come back till the 80’s.
I guess I did get lost.
I was trying to do good things.
I remember feeling good for awhile.
I remember doing some things right.
I am wounded.
I am still afraid.
There are many of us around.
We whisper about it.
We don’t want to hurt you with it.
Slowly, we know we can’t.
We can’t hurt you.
We love you.
We need you.
You are our beautiful children that we were so afraid we couldn’t have.
We were afraid we’d hurt you because we were lost.
I am so glad you are here.
I’m sick to death of it.
Everybody works until they can’t work anymore, but
you know what?
Retirement is cool.
I usually mess it up. I say “When I graduate….”
I’m still in school.
I’m still memorizing stuff.
I’m still staring at it.
I’m sick to death of it
I am so proud of you.
I bless you.
I take you as my own.
You, go, girl, as you’re fond of saying.
I’m taking a break.
All of this is in your really excellent hands.
I’m proud of you.
I’m so very, very proud of you.
You are the children we wanted.
(first posted on
Thursday, 6 November 2008
—for my beautiful friends Lisa Hunt and Lauren Titus)