Over Barricaded

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Photo: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

There was a wall in there.

A barricade against the world.

He’d built it, bit by bit, from hurts and slights and bigger woes.

And hid.

Within.

Where he thought he’d be safe, and from where he could watch from a distance, reassured by barriers and gates and locks and elaborate booby-traps that made sure no one got too close.

There was a wall in there.

And a moat.

Alligators, too. For insurance.

Only that they had become hungry with the years, as less people even attempted to get near him, and therefore there was less bait.

So that he was, in many ways, imprisoned.

He’d been young when he’d built the wall, and he didn’t plan ahead. So needy of a solid barricade he’d been, that he never made a way to unlock the gate.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Barricade in 136 words

 

 

Comunicar el Trauma – JUST PUBLISHED!

Breaking News!

I am delighted to share that my book, “Communicating Trauma” has just been published in Spanish! Yay Hurray!

CT spanish NaamaYehuda

Comunicar el Trauma – Na’ama Yehuda

 

Comunicar el trauma:Criterios clínicos e intervenciones con niños traumatizados

 

From the publisher:

Comunicar el trauma explora diferentes aspectos del lenguaje y la comunicación y cómo su desarrollo se ve afectado por el trauma y el desbordamiento emocional de los niños. A lo largo del texto, múltiples estudios de caso describen de qué modo los distintos tipos de trauma infantil afectan a la capacidad de los niños para relacionarse, atender, aprender y comunicarse. Estos ejemplos nos brindan diferentes maneras de entender, responder y apoyar a los niños que tratan de comunicar que se sienten desbordados. Psicoterapeutas, patólogos del habla y del lenguaje, trabajadores sociales, educadores, terapeutas ocupacionales y físicos, personal médico, padres de acogida, agencias de adopción y otros cuidadores y profesionales de la infancia encontrarán, en este libro, información y consejos prácticos para mejorar la conexión y el comportamiento, paliar la falta de comunicación y conseguir que los niños más problemáticos sean escuchados.

◊◊◊◊

“Un libro fascinante sobre el trauma infantil y el modo en que los niños expresan su sufrimiento y que, más importante aún, constituye un mapa para la curación. Escrito con gran sensibilidad, cariño, comprensión y sabiduría clínica, este libro es una joya diáfana y accesible, que incluye conmovedores e instructivos ejemplos de casos. Tanto los padres como los profesionales encontrarán en sus páginas una valiosa ayuda.”

–Ono Van der Hart, PhD, Universidad de Utrecht, Holanda 

◊◊◊◊

For more information about the English edition go to “Communicating Trauma” (or look under the — soon to be updated… — Books and Publications tab at the top of the page).

 

Dressed Down

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Photo: Marjorie Bertrand on Unsplash

 

He eyed her twirling in her tutu and his heart squeezed with longing.

He wanted to do that, too. It was not fair that it was not allowed.

That only girls could.

Be princesses.

Wear dresses.

Put on make up.

Play with dolls.

Paint their nails.

He’d tried, of course, but he could tell that even those who did not outright take things from him or forbid him or call him hurtful names, didn’t really feel comfortable with his choices. There was that look they gave, the forced smile, the way they inevitably ran out of patience and gave him “other suggestions” or directed him toward “trying other things.” He was given gifts that made it clear that what he’d asked for was not acceptable and therefore required others choose for him.

He could tell his parents were ashamed.

They loved him. He knew. But they didn’t quite love that part of him. The part that he loved in himself the most. The part that he hated. Sometimes.

It wasn’t even that he didn’t like sports, or climbing trees, or making mud pies. He did. It was just that those weren’t fun without adding a bit of dance, of looking for fairies amidst the branches, or pretending that the mud pies were part of a birthday bakery for princesses.

They kept saying how “wonderful it was to have such an imagination,” but their body language told him that they’d have much preferred if his imagination didn’t quite go where it wanted to. That they would have liked better an imagination of the kind they felt was more appropriate for boys.

“Do you want to be a girl?” his sister asked. They were in her room for a tea party. She was wearing one of her ballet-princess dresses and the full set of jewelry she’d gotten from Grandma just the other day. She let him wear the crown. They pretended this made him a princess, too, but they both knew she chose the crown because it would be easy for him to take down if someone walked in.

Or say he was a king.

Sometimes he envied her so much that it carved a hole into the center of his being. The ease and confidence with which she could prance around in rustling taffeta and glittery baubles, the smiles she got when she dressed up and smeared lipstick on her face … It hurt. It hurt. It hurt.

She let him into her world, but they both know that it was not his to live in. They both knew that when her friends came for a play-date he would be excluded. They both knew that even with no dress on, and with a crown fit for a king, at any moment someone might barge in, and frown, and find a reason to ‘redirect’ him.

Her question made him cry.

Because he didn’t want to be a girl.

He wanted to be a boy who liked playing with dolls and painting his nails and having tea parties and trying on dresses and decorating mud-pie cakes for princesses.

And yet … it would have been so easy. If he were a girl.

No frowns. No shaming. No overhearing adults talk of how he needed “toughening up” or was “too sensitive” or was “definitely gay-material” or “headed in the wrong direction.” Not having to know that Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa were kind of ashamed of him.

“I want to be me,” he sobbed, and fingered a dress his sister discarded and that he would give his heart to be allowed to put on without fear. “I just want to be me … and I don’t understand why it is wrong.”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: dress

 

 

Safe Haven

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Photo: John Finkelstein on Pexels.com

 

She closed her eyes

And drifted,

Snug,

Through the safe haven

Of warm arms,

And dreamed of

Milk

And coos

And sun,

And all the smiles

That feed

Her heart

And mind.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Haven in 32 words

 

Her Song To Sing

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Photo: Jorgen Haland via Unsplash

 

And so she stood

Among the rocks

That piled,

A pyre of life’s debris,

Like so much refuse

Of what had

Once been

Beloved goals.

 

And so she sang,

The words still raw

Against her lips,

Her livid

Scar of

Soul.

 

The song, she knew,

Was more than

A sum

Of her whole,

And beyond any meaning

Voice could

Hold.

 

And so she stood

Amidst the wreckage

Of her faith

Atop the middling shards

Of hope.

 

And she recalled

The seeds long planted

In her core,

Beneath the thickets

Of lost calls,

Awaiting, perhaps,

This very annihilation

As invitation

To grow bold.

 

 

 

(Dedicated to all who are feeling broken. May they find the seeds within their core. And grow bold.)

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Song in 102 words

 

In Denial

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Photo: stevepb-282134 on Pixabay

 

“He’d never do that.”

“But he’s such a nice guy!”

“She’s lying or she’d have complained sooner.”

“He’s a pillar of the community.”

“Why ruin a man’s name?”

“I’ve never seen him do anything.”

“He said he didn’t do it. What else do you want?”

“Kids are unreliable.”

“Women lie about this stuff all the time.”

Even when videos surfaced following one victim’s suicide. Even after he was convicted. Some kept claiming he’d been the one wronged.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Denial in 77 words

 

It Ain’t TMI, Little Guy

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Photo: Pixabay

 

“My face gets all red,” he noted.

“Oh?” I didn’t know where he was going with this little tidbit of self-disclosure, but oftentimes neutral responses worked the best for those.

“Yeah,” he nodded. His hands continued to manipulate a small figurine: twisting, bending, spinning the head around.

I offered a box with a some accessories: a chair, a bike, a car, a bath, a bed, a backpack.

He raised his eyes without really looking at me, and returned his attention to the object in his hands. He wasn’t exactly aggressive as he was persistent. I found myself wondering when he’ll realize the head could come off.

“My face gets all red,” he repeated. “I watched.”

“Hmm?” I responded.

“Yeah.” He looked up, this time meeting my eyes in part-challenge, part-fascination. “In the mirror. Did you know I have ropes in my neck?”

He touched the sides of his neck, then grimaced and twisted his face and torso into a representation of intense muscle tension. Strain or fury or struggle or all.

“See?” he grunted.

The veins in his neck bulged and a small tributary pulsed at his temple, sprouting a delicate delta underneath the almost transparent skin.

“Yes, I do see.”

“It’s what happens every time,” he sighed as he relaxed his face and shoulders. Fierceness gone. Vulnerable.

“It’s what happens, when?” I had some inkling as to what he was describing but I wasn’t fully sure … and not assuming was often the right thing to do, anyhow. Especially with children who’d had so little opportunity to question or discuss or explain or inquire or straighten worries out. This little guy had had almost none, and for a boy who talked with almost no one, it was progress that he could speak about himself at all.

His eyes sought mine and the rising pink in his cheeks competed with the retreating redness from his earlier maneuver. He bent the figurine to sitting position, to a stand, to sitting again.

“When I go,” he muttered. “You know, when I … um … have to, uh, push the poo out.”

“Oh,” I noted blandly. “In the bathroom?”

The boy nodded. The blush spread down to below his chin.

“I think most people strain when they poo. It can make their faces red.”

His eyes widened at that, or perhaps also at my matter-of-fact discussion of matters too many in society render embarrassing even though these are naught but normal body-functions.

“Did you look, too?” he tried.

“At my face? You mean, when I use the bathroom?”

He bit his lower lip and nodded, balancing a tightrope of shame and disclosure and curiosity and possibly worry. Perhaps all. Perhaps more.

“I can’t say I have, but it is just what happens when people move their bowels. It is normal to strain or push a little.”

He thought about it. Continued to play with the figurine in his hands.

I wrestled with whether to say anymore. I wanted to reassure him but also wanted to know if it was hurting him to go to the bathroom, so I would know whether there was a problem that needs to be checked. I wanted to know if anything changed recently … if something happened … Heavens knows plenty had in the past, even if I did not know exactly what. Was this him just being more aware of his own body, or was it an attempt to speak of other things … of other kinds of red-faced strain he might’ve seen? Was it both?

I breathed.

He didn’t look distressed. Then again, Toy-figurine Man had lost his head a few times.

Another moment passed.

“Yeah, Dara does it, too.” He stated, asked.

The new infant at his foster home.

I nodded encouragement.

“Sometimes her face gets really red and funny and then Mama Molly changes her.” He looked at me, shame and blush seeming to recede. “You can smell it,” he giggled, testing.

“I bet,” I smiled.

“It stinks,” he took himself into full-out-laugh zone now. “Mama Molly says Dara’s poo stinks to infinity and beyond.”

I grinned. Mama Molly was a keeper. “Poo sure can.”

“Mine does!” he chortled.

Toy-figurine Man got his head back. Kept it on. Got put onto his bike and taken around the table and into the box.

“So,” the boy raised his chin in the direction of his folder and the games on the chair next to me. “Can we start?”

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: Strain

 

The Cursed

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Photo: Renato Mu on Pexels.com

 

They were never meant to be

Accepted.

 

They were never meant

To be

Approved,

Or approved of.

 

Cast-offs,

They were the anathema

To all some saw as

Civil

Or normative

Or worthy of.

 

They were cursed

By those of privilege,

Who for added

Privations

Then denounced them

As being

Incapable of

Love.

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Anathema in 52 words

 

 

The Boy Who Was Very Brave

 

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Photo: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

“Be brave,” he said, and closed his eyes to ward off at least the pain of seeing his skin pierced by sharpness.

“Just a scratch,” the nurse stated in rote-like monotone, forgetting that for this boy nothing at this point was ‘just a scratch,’ especially not with veins well worn from prodding, let alone in a child who must struggle to understand why any of this was necessary.

“Be brave,” he said again, and his voice shook, and a tear slid under his lids and traveled down the small cheek to settle on his ear like a tiny sorrow-diamond.

“I’m sorry,” the nurse pressed her lips together when the third poke failed and another scarred blood vessel rolled under her needle. She’ll have to try another site. How on earth did someone not put a port in this child yet?

“Be brave,” the boy clenched his eyes to slits but more tears fled. “Be brave.”

The nurse looked up, distressed by his determined resignation. She paused and placed her gloved hand on his cheek. “You are,” she said. “Very.”

Eyes still shut, he shuddered and she wasn’t sure if he understood. She pulled a chair to his gurney and smoothed his hair. Someone from the Children’s Home had brought him to the hospital with another flareup, but the orphanage was too short-staffed to have anyone stay with him, especially when the boy wasn’t fussy and reportedly “used to” the hospital.

As if there could be such a thing as a child being “used to” being alone in a hospital.

“You are brave,” she repeated. Her eyes stung and perhaps the emotion in her voice more than her words filtered through his bracing because his eyes opened to meet hers.

“You don’t deserve any of this,” she said. “No one does. What you do deserve is to get better, and for people to really see and understand how brave you are. You are so so brave.”

Another tear rolled toward his ear. She hoped this one wasn’t from fear but from recognizing a connection.

“I’ll be as gentle as I can,” she promised. “I know this must be awful, but I need to get a line in for your medicine. Can you be brave for me just a bit longer?”

He held her eyes before he nodded.

“Good boy. So let’s just get this over with?”

He nodded again and this time did not close his eyes but hung them on her face. He did not look away or make a sound as she flicked and poked and needled.

“Good lad,” she praised, relieved, as she finally placed the clear bandage over the IV.

He took in a long breath.

“Can I get you anything?” she lingered, wanting to do something for this boy, so small and pale and alone.

He nodded.

“Some juice or crackers, maybe? It’ll do you good to get some of these in you,” she chattered. “I bet we have some toys I can borrow from the playroom for you.”

He held her gaze.

“Can I go home with you?” he asked. “I promise to be brave for you. I’ll be brave every day.”

 

 

(*Based on a true story.)

For Six Word Saturday

 

 

Wrap It Up In Gratitude

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Photo by Carl Attard on Pexels.com

 

Me being a softy for all manner of new beginnings, wrapping ups, looking back and facing forward, I’ve decided to participate in this lovely idea of a blog-to-blog blanket of gratitude, friendship, and community. Want to join? Read how here (also, thank you, Dale – for the idea).

The short of it? Set a timer for 15 minutes and let loose: write, detail, list, describe and put your gratitude into words. No edits needed. No wrong answers. No test at the end. Nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you are so inclined, read my unedited, uncensored Gratitude Wrap Up — here I Go!

  1. Family. A blessing even wordy-me hasn’t enough words for.
  2. Friends. For all the gifts of laughter and joy.
  3. Joy. Because life is so much richer with it.
  4. Life. Without it, there would be nothing.
  5. This planet. Without it there would be no life as we know it.
  6. Oxygen. I adore the stuff. Can’t imagine living without it.
  7. Water. The obvious stuff, but also in rivers and oceans. Especially the beach.
  8. Waves. In the sea. In the ebb and flow of life. In the ups and downs of everything. In hellos and even in the sweet sorrow of goodbyes (for there had to have been a hello for there to be a goodbye).
  9. Light and the gift of sight.
  10. Colors. In nature. In emotion. In people. In energy. In food. In flowers.
  11. Flowers. Not so much the cut ones in bouquets as the ones still living, blooming loudly without shame or apology.
  12. Apologies. For making room for amends and for allowing humility, humanity, empathy, fallibility, and compassion.
  13. Compassion. I’d put it first. But this is unedited and … it really fits everywhere. Any day. Any time.
  14. Time. To live. To breathe. To be. To learn. To write.
  15. Learning. For there is so much more to know!
  16. Writing. Because, well, it is like breathing.
  17. Breathing. It’s lovely. Also, see #6 …
  18. Children. For everything they are and the hope they hold and the laughter they bring and the teachers they are.
  19. Hope. The hope you feel. The hope you know. The hope you may be able to give someone, someday. The hope you might’ve forgotten but now remember.
  20. Memories. So many of those. Some I might’ve wished to never know, but since they are part of me, I’d rather know than not, for they are all a part of me and made me into who I am today.
  21. Today. Every day. There would be not past or present or future without it.
  22. Tomorrow. For exemplifying hope by working on becoming a today and by that showing trust in what can be.
  23. Trust. For the depth of connection it allows, especially as it is never something I take for granted, having known betrayal.
  24. Connection. No person is truly an island. We need our shores to touch those of others, through waves and flow and ebb and sun and rain and heart and sound.
  25. Sound. For the gifts of hearing, listening, and understanding.
  26. Comprehension. For this world is complicated enough, and I am grateful to know some meaning.
  27. Meaning. For life. For love. For connection. For work.
  28. Work. Because to live is to work. Not just in what one defines as a job, but in what one can define their life’s work to be, and the glimpses of the plan.
  29. Plans. Love them. Sometimes I am not sure I feel the love, but I know I do, someplace, or I’d have never made the plans …
  30. Love.
  31. Love.
  32. Love.
  33. Repetition. Some things get better the more you know them. The more you do them. The more time you spend in them. They improve with age.
  34. Aging. Seriously. I’ve earned every wrinkle. I’ve labored in the sun for every freckle. I’ve stitched every bit of wisdom, sometimes from tatters of harder times to make a quilt of who I am.
  35. Being me. Not because I’m so special, but because we each are. And I’m happy for the opportunity to be me. Just because (also, I’m a limited edition. They broke the mold after making me, so it’ll be a waste to not make the most of it even if just because I’m super curious to see how I’ll unfold).
  36. Curiosity. Can’t help it. Don’t want to change it. Wonder where it’s all coming from.
  37. Wonder. It keeps me on my toes. It keeps my ‘awwww’ and ‘wow’ and ‘whoa’ muscles working.
  38. Muscles. I’ve got the skinny-Minnie edition of those, so I’m grateful for every fiber: they keep me upright, they keep my fingers typing (yeah!). They keep my heart pumping.
  39. Heart. In all its manifestations. Even broken hearts are better than being heartless. I’m so so grateful to have heart and to know so many people who have golden ones.
  40. Gold. Not the metal, but the color – in the sunrise, in the sunset, in the sparkle, in the light.
  41. Sunrise and sunset. They never fail to quicken my heart and expand my soul.
  42. Soul. It’s older than this body. It’s wiser than this life. It’s been hanging around this universe a while, and it’s been traveling in a little cluster with other souls, most of whom I totally adore.
  43. The universe. Don’t understand it. Can’t grasp the size of it. Not sure I really ‘get’ how it went ‘bang’ and where it is expanding or collapsing into, but I sure am grateful for it. May even be grateful for extraterrestrials. Come to think of it, I bet I already know a few such travelers.
  44. Travel. To new-to-me and known-to-me places. It expands my mind and nourishes my spirit.
  45. Nourishment. In all its forms but especially in its most basic, which I know so many in this world still struggle to have access to, even as there should be more than enough for all of us. Having healthy food isn’t something to take for granted.
  46. Health. This, too, in all its forms and in its most fundamental. I’ve been blessed to know both health and some of its challenges. It keeps me grateful. It keeps me aware.
  47. Awareness. Being conscious is a good thing. Seriously. I know what I’m talking about.
  48. Talking. I’m SO grateful for the gift of gab. I’d implode if I didn’t have words.
  49. Words. Language. Communication. My elements. My calling. My profession. My path.
  50. Journey. Especially that of life. With all of you who cross my path and join my path and whose path I am allowed to join. I’m so so grateful.

 

 

Want to make your own stream-of-consciousness gratitude list? Follow the link below.

For the 2018 Annual attitudes of gratitude list