Memories and Fears

Memories are our friends or foes. They’re our friends when we can remember the smell of a freshly bathed baby asleep on our shoulder. They’re our foe when trauma is so vivid it feels as if we’re still in the midst of the battle, or assault from someone who shouldn’t be hurting us.

Fear sets in when these memories cause feelings we’re uncomfortable with, and we often fear those feelings. We don’t like to be uncomfortable, and we’d rather not remember things that make us feel that way. What can we do?

We can learn to work through those feelings, and learn we’ll be ok. The memories cannot hurt us. Yes, they can make us feel uncomfortable, but we will not be hurt in the same way. We need to work through uncomfortable feelings, positive or negative. It is very possible to learn feelings can help us as well as hurt us.

If we recall being burned by fire, we are reminded of the event as painful, panic, and fearful. If we recall play, celebration, joy, and happiness, we come to learn we deserve those feelings, and work to enjoy them as often as possible. We can work our way towards putting memories in their proper places, between trauma and happiness. Eventually, we gain control over where our mind goes.

I remember very specifically when my son Frankie drowned. It was in 1978, when I was 26, pregnant with Becky, and taking Nick to the bathroom. My worst fear came true, my son drowned and would have died, but for the two people who knew CPR were at their going away party with us. One week later, no one would have known how to save his life.

My whole life, I was fearful of water, fearful of drowning. I remember the feeling, the fear, and the shaking I’d go through when I’d smell wet sand, wet clothes, suntan lotion, anything you’d experience at the lake. It took years for me to stop shaking, sobbing, and not hover over my five year old. There was no help back then for PTSD. They didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. And no, I was told, “just don’t think of it,” by my doctor. I’m so glad things have changed drastically.

Know of someone who needs to talk with someone about trauma? There is help. Tonight, I took my last Peer Support class. Tomorrow is graduation. The time has gone quickly, we’ll meet one last time, and become ready to listen where needed. It’s a good feeling, and I expect it will be rewarding to listen and offer ideas when needed. Mostly, it will be supporting the efforts of people, to live their lives. And that’s always a good thing.

Thank you for reading, we’ll visit again tomorrow.

Yes, I Remember

Yes, I remember where I was when I heard about the attack on America. My oldest son’s car broke down, so I gave him a ride to the construction site he was working at in Ashland, NE. It was a Street of Dreams Home under construction. I got to the intersection where the Outlet Mall was, and the Babe called me. He told me a plane struck the World Trade Center. I started to cry, and couldn’t figure out how that could happen. Once I got home, I watched TV, the tears really fell. How could this happen?

Three days before, we celebrated the wedding of one of our daughters, Tracy, to TJ. It was the most beautiful week of parties, bonding, and happiness. Our blended family had it’s first wedding, and everyone was there. Son Blake and his fiancee Monica got on a plane Monday, September 10th, to go back home. Blake was a new uniformed officer for the United States Secret Service. He was due back at work on Tuesday. Monica was to report to her job at a dental clinic. Blake and his co-workers all were stationed at various places around Washington, DC. They did not know what happened. We knew more than he did at the time.

The whole day took a toll on everyone’s emotions. Many people from our Church had loved ones in New York or Washington. The Babe and I were going to lead a class for Stephen’s Ministry and the first class was to be that evening. It didn’t happen. Our friend and pastor, Dr. Mary Hansen, asked instead that I talk at the Church service that evening. I was honored.

The whole premise of Stephen’s Ministry is to be a support to people who are going through some turmoil. 9/11 certainly qualifies as turmoil. I talked about how we had a family wedding right in that Church three days before. And right now, the young man who was at his sister’s wedding Saturday, was guarding the Treasury Building three days later. Other Church family members were scattered across the country. No one was lost that day, no one was injured. We were all more afraid than we could remember being.

Nineteen years later, I am deeply saddened how our First Responders are demonized instead of honored. I am so saddened at the death of the Lincoln Police Officer Herrera. He was also an Army Veteran and will be buried at the Omaha National Cemetery tomorrow. First Responders are still the first we turn to in times of crisis. We need them, and we need them healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Take time to thank them for always being there all these nineteen years later. Thank you to our military and First Responders. We would not still be here without you. I am still sad about the innocent lives lost that day.

When I picked my son up that afternoon, as he got in the car, he asked, “OK, so what happened today. I knew something was wrong, there were no planes in the air. That never happens.” I told him about the day’s happenings. He asked if we heard from Blake and Monica. At that time, no, we hadn’t, but Monica keeping Blake’s Mom informed.

So many things have changed since then. Blake’s Mom has passed away. He has been promoted from a uniformed officer to Captain in the Secret Service. He is Captain in his favorite division, and his retirement time is coming up quickly. His dad is retired. Blake and Monica have a wonderful son we love to bits. Tracy and TJ have two beautiful kids, as do Becky and Brian in Colorado. We have gone from wanting our world safe for us to praying it is for our kids and grandkids.

Many things have not changed. Some people hate the United States with such a passion, it’s frightening. It’s frightening how many people are hateful to each other right here in America. The time after 9/11, Church attendance spiked at an unprecedented rate. It stayed there for a long time. It is frightening how many people want to embrace Socialism. Let’s not even go there, please. Those 3,000 + patriots who died that day died not so we could compromise on our ideals and way of life, they cannot have died in vain.

Let’s take a long, hard look at ourselves, and adjust our priorities. Our country needs to remain strong and it need to remain dominant in the world. We still need to be a leader as an example of a way of life that guarantees freedoms for everyone. We need to accept responsibility for ourselves first, and give a hard day’s work for our earnings, not live on handouts. We need to be self-reliant so if the world takes another bad turn we can find our ways out of the rubble.

God Bless America. Please.