One Silver Lining

(Based on true events* – Trigger Warning for possible distress)

bed blanket female girl

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

 

Susan is about to leave her daughter’s bedroom after bringing in a load of clean laundry when Chrissie speaks. Her voice trembles.

“Mom, can I tell you something important?”

Susan turns. Chrissie has been quieter than usual. She resisted going to basketball practice and tried to stay home from school. “Sure, Chrissie. You know you can tell me anything.”

“Coach Kevin hurt me.”

Susan frowns in confusion. “Hurt you how?”

“He cornered me in the locker room and he pushed me onto the ground and he tried to get my clothes off and I told him no but he didn’t listen and when I tried to scream he put his hand over my mouth and nose and I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was going to die.” The words tumble out and Chrissie begins to sob.

Her mother remains standing as if rooted to the floor. “When?”

“Last week.”

“Last week?!” Susan crosses her arms over her chest. “How come you didn’t say something right away?”

“I was scared. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to think about it. I…I didn’t want it to be true.”

“Did you call the police?”

“No.”

“Did you tell the principal?”

“No.”

“Did you tell anyone?”

“I told my friend, Hannah, yesterday.” Chrissie’s voice shakes. “She told me to tell you.”

“You didn’t even tell your best friend right away?!” Susan raises an eyebrow.

“No.”

“Well,” Susan shakes her head, “so maybe it didn’t happen.”

Chrissie wraps her blanket tightly around herself. “It did happen! I’m telling you it did!”

“Coach Kevin is a nice man. Are you sure it was him?”

“Mom! I know him. His face was two inches from mine. Of course I’m sure it was him!”

“I don’t know. I’ve seen Coach Kevin many times and he never tried to do this to me. I never heard anyone say anything like this about him. Also, he goes to church.” Susan pulls her phone out of her pocket. She swipes her finger over the small screen. “Kevin? Susan. Got a minute?” She walks out of the room and returns a couple of minutes later. “Well, Chrissie, I don’t know what’s going on here, but I just talked to Coach Kevin and he says he didn’t do anything of the sort. Are you trying to destroy him? It is nasty to make things up this way.”

Chrissie sobs. “I’m not making it up, Mom. It really happened. It is why I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want … to see him and he does the carpool …”

Susan eyes linger on her daughter. “Well, maybe something happened, but I don’t believe it was him.”

“It was him! I’m telling you it was him.”

Susan narrows her eyes. “How can you be sure it was him?”

“I am a 100% sure. I saw him like I’m seeing you.”

“Hmm. I think you’re wrong.”

Chrissie pulls the covers over her head. The blankets shake.

“No need for hysterics. As you can see, I am believing you that something happened. I just don’t think it was him. Actually, I think you should apologize to Coach Kevin for saying he did this to you. He says he didn’t do it and I believe him.”

Chrissie freezes. She turns slowly toward her mother. “Apologize to him?! Mom, he’s lying!”

“I don’t know. You have proof it was him?”

Chrissie starts to shake her head but then sits up. She looks up at her mother. “Maybe. There are cameras in the hallway by the locker rooms. Can we ask the school to get the cameras from outside the locker room? They’ll show him going into the girls’ locker room when I was there by myself. They’ll show me leaving in tears and him leaving after me.”

Chrissie’s mother rolls her eyes. “That’s not necessary. He said he didn’t do it. That’s all I need to know.”

Chrissie stares incredulously before turning away from her mother and facing the wall.

Susan shrugs. “Well, that settles it. I’ll tell Kevin you are sorry. He’s up for promotion, you know. Head coach. There’s a party at his place on Sunday. We’ll stop by. You should write a card. The one silver lining that can come out of this is that if someone assaults you, you now know you can come and tell me about it.”

§ § §

 

*a link to a ‘one silver lining‘ statement that ‘inspired’ this piece.

 

May We Be the Adults Kids Need

The link below is to an article by Dawn Haney (thank you, Jenny, for sending it to me). It is very well done and immensely relevant.

Take a moment to read it, and perhaps a few more to allow your realities and reactions to have the room they require and deserve. If you are so inclined, leave a comment below and share your thoughts about the article, of the things you’ve found to be helpful, and the realities of balancing activism with self-care.

In these times of rampant overwhelm and maddening injustice — especially if you carry your own wounds and trauma history — may you find the support you need, the awareness you seek, and the way to provide aid to the vulnerable in the pace and manner you can manage.

And may we all, indeed, be the adults kids need.

May We Be the Adults Kids Need: Healing practices to avoid burnout

From the article. Photo by Brooke Anderson.

 

Notorious

 

Hard times OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

When you know how stress

Rewires

Little ones’ brains

To lifelong pain,

You mark yourself ever

Notorious

When you cruelly

Add

To their wounding

Day and again.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for June 22, 2018:

Notorious

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

“Make Me Disappear”

underground river SmadarHalperinEpshtein

Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

“Make me disappear,” she said,

As her eyes pleaded to be seen.

“I don’t care anymore,” she said,

As her voice begged to be heard.

The bruises on her skin long faded

But the wounding in her heart remained

Unhealed

Unchanged.

“I want to not be anymore,” she said.

But it was pain and the isolating loss of shame

She needed to erase,

Not life itself.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Symptomatology

Reflection--Photographer unknown

He over-eats because he’s nervous.

She over-sleeps because she’s sad.

He hits because he doesn’t know another way to show he doesn’t understand.

Her stomach hurts when there’s a test

His when a certain uncle comes.

She ‘checks out’ when her parents fight

or students raise a hand.

He cries with every little scratch.

She’s stoic with a shattered arm.

Their eyes glaze over at the sight of checkered shirts

Or painted nails

A hairdo

A certain aftershave

Or lip balm.

He can’t sit still.

She won’t stop day dreaming.

He mopes. She cries. He pouts. She flies

Off the handle

If someone meets her eyes.

He wets the bed.

She carves red lines into her thigh.

He fights because he’s scared.

She spits because she’s feeling trapped

and

flirts because it is the only way she knows

to interact.

They’re judged

For all

Of the above

When in fact

Their behaviors speak a loud broadcast

Of unabated stress

And lives

That turned

Hard

To survive.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

How childhood trauma could be mistaken for ADHD

child brain

This is an immensely important article. Not because traumatized children cannot have ADHD–they can, and many do–but because children with ADHD must also be screened for trauma. They are already at a higher risk for maltreatment and overwhelm, and trauma may also lower their ability to manage stimuli and process information, exacerbating inattention.
Trauma and attention for learning are at cross purposes–this alone is a good enough reason to assess what part trauma may play in a child’s clinical presentation.
And of course–if there is trauma that is ongoing, we are all of us entrusted with doing all we can to identify it and stop it, so that children can be safe.
Until we ensure they are safe and FEELING safe, we cannot truly expect them to lower their hypervigilance or attend to what the teacher is saying in class. We cannot expect their brains to respond well to medications that are meant to treat inattention when their survival may feel as it hinges on remaining in hyper-vigilance mode and constantly scanning for danger.
I highly recommend reading this article.

ACEs Too High

Acry

[Photo credit: woodleywonderworks, Flickr]

Dr. Nicole Brown’s quest to understand her misbehaving pediatric patients began with a hunch.

Brown was completing her residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, when she realized that many of her low-income patients had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These children lived in households and neighborhoods where violence and relentless stress prevailed. Their parents found them hard to manage and teachers described them as disruptive or inattentive. Brown knew these behaviors as classic symptoms of ADHD, a brain disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and an inability to focus.

When Brown looked closely, though, she saw something else: trauma. Hyper-vigilance and dissociation, for example, could be mistaken for inattention. Impulsivity might be brought on by a stress response in overdrive.

“Despite our best efforts in referring them to behavioral therapy and starting them on stimulants, it was hard to get the symptoms under control,”…

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