Posts Tagged With: survival

Day 1534: Weather Report

The weather report, here and now:

WINTER Storm Warning REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM EDT THIS AFTERNOON…

Locations: The I-95 corridor of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Hazard types: Heavy wet snow and strong winds.
Accumulations: Snow accumulation of 6 to 12 inches.
Timing: Snow develops through 8 AM this morning and becomes heavy by mid to late morning. The snow will fall at 2 to 4 inches per hour before changing to sleet and then rain between 2 and 5 PM.
IMPACTS: The heavy wet snow and strong winds may result in tree damage and scattered power outages. Roads may become impassable with very heavy snowfall rates…near blizzard conditions for a short time and strong damaging winds. Travel is not recommended.
Winds: Northeast 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.
Visibilities: One quarter mile or less at times.

In order to weather this weather, I’m not reporting to work today. Instead, I’ll weather whatever weather there is on Friday and work that day instead.

My internal weather report, here and now:

I’m weathering whatever weather there is, whether or not I feel strong, ready, or brave.

What’s the weather report where you are?

Here’s my pictorial  weather report for the day:

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How’s your internal weather, after that pictorial report?

Here‘s one of my favorite tunes from Weather Report, live:

 

Whether it’s rain, shine, or snow, my thanks to all who helped me create today’s weather report and to you — of course! — for weathering it.

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 66 Comments

Day 301: Bearing up

Yesterday, I met my old friend Lawry in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for brunch, with some members of his family.

It was great to see everybody.  I loved talking to Lawry, his wife, his daughter, his sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.

It was particularly special for me to spend time with them, because I had been feeling some anxiety, over the weekend, about my health (and some about the Boston Red Sox, too).

And it was wonderful to be back in Harvard Square. (See “What’s the problem?” and “Random Images (paired)“, two earlier posts, for more adventures in Harvard Square.)

Here’s a little photo essay, about my time in Harvard Square yesterday.

A Little Photo Essay

by Ann

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On my way to meet Lawry and his family for brunch, I saw this amazing tree.  I had to stop and take a picture. Thank you, tree.

It was another beautiful autumn day. Those of us who live in the Greater Boston area have been remarking, this year, about how friggin’ great the fall weather has been.  Those of us who dread the onset of winter in the Greater Boston area have been wondering whether this is a good or bad omen about how painful it’s going to be, too soon. (Actually, I can only speak for my own thoughts about this.)

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Moments after  I took that first shot of the tree,  I had to stop and take the above photo. Why?  It’s a sign about a group, people!

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Here’s a closer shot of the sign (and some of the flags) that you can see in the background of the previous photo.

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As I said, it was a beautiful day. Look at those trees and that sky.

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Another sign in front of the church. I snapped this, as a is Note To Self:  “Ann, make sure you sing more (especially as the cold and dark descend)!”

After I took that photo, I stopped dilly-dallying, and focused on getting to brunch with Lawry and his family.

I didn’t have any photos of Lawry or his family members to show you today, because I was too focused on interacting with each of them, in the moment. Right now, I wish I had some visual proof of how great they all are, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

After brunch, I went to Urban Outfitters because I needed a scarf and gloves — that is, gear for winter,  coming too soon to a location near me.

And …  I DID find a great scarf and some colorful gloves there, which definitely cheered me up. (My philosophy: If I’m going to be cold, I might as well look cool.)

While I was shopping  in the store, I couldn’t help but notice this:

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I had never seen anything quite like THAT.  I’ve noticed lots of children — and adults — wearing animal hats in these parts, but a full-bear winter coat?  I was very intrigued, but assumed it was most likely just for display. (I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for heaven’s sake.)

However, when I was in line to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that the people in front of me — a woman and her son —  had just bought one of those bear coats, which was being stuffed into a bag. I blurted out, “Wow!  You got one of those!  Can I see it?”

The woman paused, but then kindly took it out of the bag, to show me. She told me it was for her son, Asa, who was a student at Boston College. “Will you try it on for me?” I asked Asa, as I told them both about this blog.

This was Asa’s reply:

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How cool is THAT?

Now it’s a day later, and I’m still feeling better.

Many thanks to Asa and his mother, Lawry and his family, Christ Church Cambridge, Urban Outfitters, all things that make life bearable, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 256: Worst nightmares (Friday the 13th)

Today is Friday the 13th.

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Eeeeeeeeeek!!!!!

So it’s time for …..

Random Thoughts about Worst Nightmares

Eeeeeeeeeeekk!!!!!!

When I woke up this morning, I felt cold.

Here’s the data on the recent weather in these parts: the temperature was in the 70’s on Monday, the 80’s on Tuesday, the 90’s on Wednesday, the 80’s yesterday, and (let me check) it’s going to be in the 70’s today.

When I’m in a therapy session — individual or group — people often hesitate to name their worst nightmares. They express a fear that if they share those, they will upset or alienate other people in the room. Often, when people describe an old nightmare, it’s part of the process of letting go of that.

When somebody is feeling bad, often a helpful question is: “What’s your worst nightmare right now?” (Also known as, “What’s the worst that could happen?”) When people allow themselves to express their worst fear, they often realize that dreaded future occurrence is unlikely. And, even if the worst fear is a distinct possibility, people usually realize they have survived worse.

In a previous blog post, I described a worst nightmare I used to have. In that recurring dream, I’d be trying to call somebody on the phone. Because of problems with my vision (and other obstacles), I could not reach the person by phone, no matter how I tried.

Here’s a nightmare I’ve only had once.

When I was a little girl, I had to have several surgeries, to implant cardiac pacemakers .

Before this particular surgery, my father, the nurses, and I had prepared a joke for the surgeons. It must have been the fall or early winter, because this was the joke: The nurses and I had put a sign on my body that said, “Do Not Open Until Christmas.”

The surgeon, in a very surgeon-like way, said, “Very funny,” when he saw the sign, and took it off my body.

Then, as usual, the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face

Somebody said, “Count backwards from 100.”

And I started to count.

I looked up at the doctors, wearing their own masks, looking down at me.

As I was looking up at them, that image started to change.

It reminded me of getting closer and closer to a photo in a newspaper, or an image on a television set.

Sort of like this:

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It was more like a black-and-white image, though. And as I kept staring at it, the dots that made up that image got bigger and bigger.

Finally, I fell into one big, black dot.

And everything was black.

And I heard a voice. It wasn’t a nice voice. It was a cold, unfriendly voice.

It did not wish me well.

It said this:

That person you were before — the one that was joking with the doctors — is not real. This is the only thing that is real. And you will always come back to this.

Then, thank goodness, I woke up.

It was only a dream.

Sometimes, that’s the way a story ends.

Like here:

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And like here, today.

Thanks for being there, dear readers.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Day 250: Things Not To Fear (I’m Still Here)

Thing Not To Fear #1:  If you make a mistake in the midst of doing a really great job, the mistake is the only thing that will linger.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT:  Everybody makes mistakes.  Mistakes make you human, resulting in other humans connecting with you even more.

Thing Not to Fear #2:  Public speaking.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT: Most humans are anxious about public speaking, so if you are at all anxious about that, they will join with you about that, too.

Thing Not to Fear #3:  That you will die today.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT: Looking at all the data, it’s extremely unlikely (even if it would make a good story). *

Thing Not to Fear #4: If you share a song with people — even if you recently shared another song by the same composer — they will get annoyed with you.

Reason Not to Fear THAT: The vast majority of people will NOT get annoyed by something like that.

Another Reason Not to Fear THAT: If anybody does get annoyed, that will pass, very soon.

To conclude, this song is in honor of me, doing the Heart Walk today, raisin’ money and celebrating my 50 years of living with cardiac pacemakers. (It’s also in honor of two people who have helped me get through many things: Carol Burnett and Stephen Sondheim.) **

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Many thanks to everybody!


  • Or, at least, a very ironic story.

** Who are both still here, on September 7, 2013.  Thank goodness for that.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 197: Technology, Part II

In yesterday’s post about technology and e-mail, there was a “shadow” — something on my mind, which I didn’t write about.

Here’s what it is: I’ve not only been having a complicated “relationship” with e-mail lately, but also with a different piece of technology.

My current cardiac pacemaker.

It’s time for a story …

Ann and Her Pacemakers

I got my first pacemaker when I was 10 years old, and I’ve had a LOT of them.

For the first 20 years or so, all the pacemakers I had were fixed-rate pacemakers. No matter what I did, how much I exerted myself, or what I was feeling, the pacemaker (and my heart) were beating the same amount of beats every minute: 80 beats per minute when I was a little kid and 70 when I got older. That meant I didn’t get the boost of extra beats for exercise.

That didn’t stop me from becoming a Disco Queen in the 1970’s, though.

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I (not pictured) took lots of disco lessons, danced in lots of places with lots of people, and had a blast. The way I dealt with fixed rate of my heart? I rested after a dance or two. Nobody knew the difference.

In the 1980’s, when I was in my 30’s, I got my first variable rate pacemaker. With this advance in technology, the pacemaker allowed my heart to speed up exactly when it needed to.

I remember, after I got my first variable rate pacemaker, going to an indoor athletic track, and jogging for the first time.

I felt like I was flying. It felt like a miracle.

Another part of the story is this: I have always been quite sensitive to how my heart is beating. In other words, if my heart skips or speeds up suddenly, I am very aware of it. I guess I’ve had to be, in order to survive. (Also, as somebody said to me when I was in my 20’s, “Ann, some people are just born sensitive.”)

Until I was in my 30’s and got the variable rate pacemaker, any variability in my heart beating (like missed beats, slowing down, or speeding up) meant that Something Was Wrong With The Pacemaker. And by being tuned in very acutely to my heartbeat, I pretty much always anticipated when my pacemaker was starting to fail.

You may have read, on this blog, my bragging about this: I am The Longest Surviving Person In The World With a Pacemaker.*

I’ve broken other records, too. Another one (I believe) is the Longest Lasting Single Pacemaker. That would have been the last pacemaker I had, before my current one. That Champ of a Pacemaker lasted just shy of 25 years. (This could be framed as “pay back” for all the pacemakers I had, early on, that broke and otherwise failed way too soon.)

I loved my last pacemaker, if I may use that emotional word about a piece of technology, because it not only kept me going, but it kept going for such a long time. And I felt physically great with it.

The current one, which I received about 17 months ago (but who’s counting?) does not seem to be quite as spectacular a match. With this pacemaker, my heart is skipping a lot of beats, speeding up suddenly, and … it just doesn’t feel as good. My doctors tried to adjust this latest pacemaker (the new ones have LOTS of fancy programming), but, at this point, we just can’t get it to stop those kinds of behaviors. It’s not that there is something wrong with it, it’s just picking up more than my other pacemakers. My doctors tell me that it is giving a more “accurate” representation of how my heart might naturally beat.

Perhaps this pacemaker is “too sensitive.”

(I wrote about the “too” word in a post, when I first started blogging, here. Also, “too sensitive” is something I hear people say about themselves, in a judgmental way. I sometimes think that’s a characterization that’s not particularly helpful.)

At this point, I’m not sure if anything further can be done, with this pacemaker, to make it a better fit for me and my needs. What I’ve done, for myself, to feel better, is to try to “disconnect” from my sensitivity to my own heartbeat. I’ve tried to “shut off” my immediate, familiar, and learned response of “There’s Something Wrong!” whenever my heart skips a lot.

But, my heartbeat has an effect on me. That effect may include anxiety, at times.

It’s so complicated, how all the different factors — internal and external — interact with each other.

How do I figure this out? And what to do?

Here’s what I thought of this morning.

The Serenity Prayer.

Again.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As usual, Part 3 — “the wisdom to know the difference” — is the challenging part.

What are the things I can and cannot change right now?

At this point, I don’t think I have more options to change this pacemaker, to make it a better fit, although I’m not sure about that. I could find out, perhaps. And, maybe I can find out more about my options for my next pacemaker.

In any case, it helps to name the situation, rather than avoiding it and trying to block it out. And, also, to identify an achievable next step or two.

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart (which skips sometimes), for visiting today.


  • I found out, in 2014, that this brag was not true.  See here for more about that.
Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 121: Why I relate to the Boston Carjacking “victim”

This blog post is dedicated to a wonderful, amazing member of “my team,” Carol.

I woke up this morning at 4 AM.  (Why am I doing that? I’m working on it, people.)

Almost immediately, I came up with these ideas for blog posts today:

  1. Fear of humans — and other creatures —  loving me too much. (I’m not ready, I decided, to write about THAT, yet.)
  2. “What’s in a Name?” (about what it’s like to have a name that nobody can pronounce or spell and which some people seem to make fun of).

I had decided on the latter topic (thanks to my childhood friend, Debbie, with whom I’ve recently reconnected via Facebook and blogging here).

Before I started writing, I took a quick look at the news headlines at cnn.com.  (Why, oh why, am I doing that?)  (I’m working on it, people.)

And I saw this article, titled “Carjacking victim recalls differing demeanors of  bombing suspects.”

I would like to make this a short blog post, since I think there’s A CHANCE I might be able to fall back asleep for a little while. So I would like to present two quotes from this cnn.com article and confess about why I relate to these excerpts.

Okay? Here we go …

Danny had stopped his vehicle to send a text when Tamerlan walked up and tapped on the window. The suspect, allegedly carrying a handgun, opened the door and got into the passenger seat.

When I was 22 years old,  I was driving back to where I lived with my roommate Barbara, in an apartment in Cambridge. It was late at night.  My memory is that I had  been visiting with my long-time friend, Jon, and we had been talking about our relationships with other people, as well as other topics. (By the way, believe it or not, Jon appeared in my blog post, a few days ago, here.)

After I parked my car, in back of my apartment building,  and got out of it, there was a man waiting for me.  As soon as I saw him, my heart sank.  Sure enough, he meant me harm. He took me into my car. I was sitting in the passenger seat.

Under questioning by Tamerlan, Danny played up being Chinese and tried to humanize himself by talking about cell phones and family. Danny told CNN he felt being Chinese helped save his life.

That’s exactly what I tried to do with this guy, in 1975:  “humanize” myself, because I had recently read an article — in Newsweek, I think — about how rape was an act of rage. What I got out of that article was this: one thing that might help me survive would be to humanize myself to the rapist. So, I said everything I could think of, in service of that.  And I told him that I had a pacemaker and to be careful.  And he stopped. And I said, “I’m scared.” And he said, “I’m scared for you, too.”  And I had no idea what that meant, when he said that. I thought I was still in danger.

But, I wasn’t.  He left, soon after that.

During the carjacking, Danny thought about a girl in New York whom he really liked.

He thought he’d never see her again.

I thought about my roommate, Barbara, asleep upstairs in our apartment. I thought I would never see her again.

I did. I saw her the next morning.  Now, she is my biggest supporter, as I write this blog every day.

Wow.  That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

I’ll tell you what’s most amazing to me, right now:  Maybe this topic IS related to topic # 1 (see above)  (as well as to how I can be scared by other people’s anger).  (I’m working on both of those, people!)

It’s incredible what happens, sometimes, when you are “putting it into words.”*

Thanks for reading these words today, dear readers.

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* This is a personal “shout-out,” to my faithful reader,  Lena.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 111: Here and now? It’s safer than you fear.

That may seem like a really strange title for today’s blog post.

Especially since I’m writing this in Boston, less than a week after the Marathon bombings, which created wide-spread (and completely understandable) beliefs of “we’re not as safe as we thought.”  (At least that happened here, in the U.S.)

Especially since I’m writing this approximately 36 hours after “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19” (as the media is now referring to him) was captured, hiding out in a boat, in Watertown, MA.  According to Google maps, he was hiding right behind the Arsenal Mall, where I’ve shopped for the last 30 years, a block away from places I frequently walk, and less than 2 and a half miles away from where this writer currently lives.

Okay, I want to ask myself  (and you) a question right now.  Why am I starting with time and place, in this post?  Why did I write those previous paragraphs, so specifically, about where and when?

Anxiety can heighten a sense of time and place.

I  state the place and time when I’m anxious, as a way to get a sense of how safe I am. It’s like I’m monitoring the environment and asking this: how close am I to  danger (by location and by time)?

I see that heightened anxiety, now, in people all around me.

I see that heightened anxiety in the people who are trying to make meaning of this new reality: My World After the Boston Bombings.

I see and hear people telling their stories, now, with those kinds of details — focusing on location and time. Details like these:  I live(d) in Boston, during this time.  Family members live(d) in Boston, during this time . Boston is/was familiar to me, during this time.

The punchline, that I hear in these stories, is this: Danger is closer than I thought.

Okay, I’m going to turn to the personal, now.

My Year of Living (What Seems to Be More) Dangerously.

I’ve been noticing, lately, that as I do this daily blog — The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally — I typically write in that state of heightened anxiety. That is, in many sentences I write (including many sentences in this blog post!), I state the place and time.  And I’ve been doing that all year.

That’s because I’m more anxious this year.

Why? Well,  I’m doing two new things:  (1) blogging and (2) working at a relatively new job for me. And the new, as we know, can make us more anxious.

However,  I’ve been remaining  anxious, even as I get more familiar with blogging and my job.

I don’t think I need to explain why blogging —  writing and sending personal information out into the world — might cause me some anxiety.   (Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Writers, Fellow Bloggers  —  you  probably have some understanding of this.)

But why does the work continue to make me so anxious?

Here’s why:  This year, I am doing work I love in a location that triggers old, anxiety-provoking memories in me. For the first time in my long  life, I am working at a hospital, and I  had some anxiety-provoking experiences  in the hospital, when I was a kid.

So, the hospital where I am now working, which is — rationally —   a very safe place for me, can FEEL more dangerous that it really is. Because I have so many memories from when I was a child — memories that color the way I see things in the present, that intensify my vision and my hearing as I walk around my now-safe hospital — as a result, I  can feel less safe than I really am.

How have I been dealing with that, this year?

My own process of helping myself feel safer.

I have been reminding myself — in the Here and Now — of the safer reality.

Whenever I can, each day I walk into work, I enter through the hospital’s main entrance. Then, I walk the 5 minutes to my office, looking around, taking in the sights and sounds, and reminding myself — with my internal thoughts and with the evidence of my eyes and ears — of all these things:

You are not a child now.  You are not a patient here.  You are an adult now.  You are on staff here.

You are in control, now.  You are not stuck here.  You can choose to leave, at any time.

Scary, awful things happened to you, but that was a long time ago (although it can feel like yesterday, sometimes).  

These things happened to you around the corner from here.  And this place may look, sound, and feels like that place.  But that was then, and this is now.  That was there, and this is here.

It’s different.

It may feel close to you,  in time and space.  But it’s further away than it feels.

There’s  distance between danger and you, Ann.

And those questions about who you can trust?  The people who work here may remind you of  some people who did scary things, but they are not the same people.

Those people who hurt you — whether it was by ignorance, fear,  or another one of their own limitations — those people can’t hurt you, right now.

It’s safer than you fear.

Those are the things I say to myself, as I walk through the hospital.

And here are some additional things I’ve been saying to myself, lately, as I walk outside the hospital:

Those people out there in the world, right now, who deliberately hurt others?  You may not understand them.  They may seem bigger and more powerful than other people. But they are the same size as other people.  

And there are others, in your life, who can help you stay safe. 

You are not alone.

It’s safer than you fear.

What I see in others, now

This week,  in Boston, I see people, all around me, doing things that remind me of my own personal process —   trying to figure out how safe they are.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post, it’s the PROXIMITY of danger that can make us feel less safe.   We feel less safe when something  happens — something terrible, something violent, something dangerous, something that shatters our sense of safety — closer than we expected.

And I see others, all around me, already, doing whatever they can to start the healing process.

I saw people in Watertown, MA, coming out of their houses immediately after the lock-down was lifted, cheering the law enforcement people leaving their neighborhoods.

As I walked around yesterday, I witnessed other people walking. I wondered if they were doing the same thing I was doing — experiencing the beauty that is erupting everywhere around us, in the neighborhood of recent, violent danger:

 

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And last night, I deliberately returned to my favorite diner (which — as I wrote about yesterday — appeared in almost every TV image during the capture of the suspect).

I went to that diner with people I adore.

 

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That’s Janet and Ray, whom I’ve known for about 30 years (the same amount of time I’ve known the Arsenal Mall, whatever the hell that means).

I was healing myself, by going back to the Deluxe Town Diner, in Watertown, MA., last night, with Janet and Ray.  I was connecting back with many old, safe memories of that place. With people I’ve known and trusted for a long time.

Janet, Ray, and I were integrating the new, awful information with the old,  as we spoke about the Proximity of Danger. We talked about how the capture took place so close to where we were — as we ate, laughed, and reconnected.

These are attempts to heal.  To figure out ways to feel safe enough to move forward .

That is what I see, every day, in the group and individual therapy work I do.  Whenever I witness people doing that — healing themselves, with the support of others — it moves me, beyond words.

It may be beyond words, but I do try to put that into words, in writing and in speech — here and elsewhere.

Here’s a phrase that came to me, many years ago, when I first starting doing the work I do:

All healing is mutual.

In other words, as we witness other people heal, we heal, also.

That is what I see and hear, all around me.

Thanks so much for reading, here and now.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 110: Arrrghh! I might still be in this guy’s movie

Writing this blog, this year, has turned out to be therapy for me. And I’ve especially needed This Writing Therapy, this past week, since I live — and work — in Boston.

Yesterday, I wrote about how weird, how awful, it was for me, that all the scenes on TV —  as they hunted for the Boston bombing suspect — were so friggin’ familiar.

And that surrealism continued throughout the day, after I published the post in the morning.  Every place the media went, every place they set up their cameras — all were super familiar to me.  I recognized everything.

And the climactic scene, last night, in Watertown?  Hovering in the background, as the news media people waited, was my favorite diner.

Deluxe Town Diner

The Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. I’ve spent countless hours at that diner.

My favorite t-shirt, which I wear when it finally gets warm enough in these parts (like now!),  is from that diner.

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All the people I love in the world?  Most of them have been to that diner with me.

I am grieving for that diner, right now, in a way. I feel very sad, as I’m writing this —  for how that diner — and all those other familiar things —  have been tainted, in memory, by the violence in and around Boston this week.

But I’m also mad right now, as I’m writing this.

(Anger is part of grieving, too, which you may already know.)

Here’s why I’m angry, right now.  I thought this was over (for me).   Like most people, last night, I was relieved when they captured the guy, and he was alive. The media told us he was on his way to a Cambridge Hospital.   It was over.  The healing could begin.

And I woke up this morning, eager to write this blog post.  Eager to write about lots of things I’ve learned, from this experience.

I love when I’m in that place, of eagerness to learn.

I’ve blogged about something, several times this year (because it’s important for me to remember).   When I’m feeling bad — helpless, powerless, depressed — my own personal experience of  “traumatized” — I forget something. I forget that I will get through that bad period.

But I always do.   I  always move through the bad times and come out the other end, with lots of gifts.  Those gifts always include some sort of wisdom — things I’ve learned that I can apply to my journey through life.

This morning, when I woke up, I thought I was through the Bad Time — the time when things feel out of sync, unfamiliar, scary, overwhelming, confusing, shocking — of this Boston Trauma.

But I’m not.

Now, I’m reading that the media is reporting that the guy might be at the hospital where I work.

So when I go back to work on Monday (after missing work yesterday, because my home was on lock-down), I’m assuming that my world will look different.  The media will be there.  The police will be there.

When I was talking to people — staff and patients —  last week, at the hospital where I work, I could see that people were traumatized by the proximity of the pain of the explosions.  Some of these people had run in that Marathon.  Almost everybody knew somebody who was in the race or watching the race.

And, according to the media, several of the severely injured people from the bomb blasts were at the hospital where I work. Staff talked a lot about how we could help others — and ourselves — deal with the nearness of all this.

I am so angry at “the bombing suspect” (as the media calls him) right now. I’m so angry I can’t even go there — write about it —  right now.

I’m especially angry that I might still be in this guy’s movie.

I’m also angry at the media — the ones who are making this friggin’ movie.  I’m especially angry about the misinformation that the media puts out there. I’m angry about the mistakes they sent out over the airwaves — throughout this experience that overtook my home — without ever owning their mistakes.

Digression about Why I’m So Pissed at The News Media

As I wrote,  earlier this year  (regarding how Weather Forecasters Never Admit When They’re Wrong, here),  it drives me up the wall when people promote speculation as fact. I don’t like when people  say they’re sure about something, when they’re not sure. And I don’t like it when they don’t own their mistakes.

The more powerful the people are who promote Speculation as Fact — the more angry I get. I judge it as irresponsible – because it hurts more people.

That drives me up the wall because I, personally, am soooooo careful to  say: I Am Not Sure About This.  That is a value of mine — to own when I don’t know something. I don’t want to mislead people. I don’t want to use my power — my expertise — to give somebody the wrong information.

The 24-hour News Media?  That doesn’t seem to be a value of theirs, at all. And I can understand the forces that dicate their being that way — that viewers want to know what’s going on, that they don’t have time to fact check, etc. etc.  But it still drives … me … up … the …. wall.

End of This Digression

So, right now, I’m assuming that my place of employment — the location where I get to do work I love — might be crawling with the media on Monday, when I go back there. Lots of law enforcement around, too.

Can you picture it?  Imagine what that might be like?

I’m imagining this: Bright lights, armed people.

The volume — and the visuals — turned WAY UP.

Dear readers, I was so ready for my world to start looking normal again.

For me, it might still be Trauma Central, on Monday. Because this is how I am defining Trauma, right now. It’s when the familiar and the safe becomes strange and frightening. It’s when we have trouble seeing past that, to a return of normalcy.

Damn it!

Well, as my sister said to me this morning, if he is there,  he won’t be there for long.  That helped — to look ahead to when my personal healing can begin.

And it’s a relief to know, that for many people around me — the people who were “locked-down” yesterday, the people who recognized the locations on TV yesterday, the people for whom the Boston Marathon was a comforting touchstone, the people whose sense of reality was disturbed in any way by the bombings here on April 15 — the healing process DID begin, last night. It began with the capture of the suspect, last night, in Watertown, MA.

I felt that relief, last night, too.  And I guess — I know —  that I will feel it again.

And for the rest of this weekend, I can try to help that healing process along, before I might need to return to the Familiar/Unfamiliar at work on Monday.

I will use those things that help me,  this weekend.

I’ll be more in the moment. (I’m not at the hospital, now!)

I’ll listen to music I love.

I’ll walk around my no-longer-locked-down town, and take in all those beautiful flowering trees — the ones I wait all year to see.

I’ll connect to people I trust.

I’ll talk about it.

And I’ll write about it, here.

Thanks for reading, as I do.

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Day 109: 7:09 AM These guys are turning my world into a violent movie

I live in one of those communities, shut down, right now, by the escaped Boston Marathon bomber being on the loose.

I’m writing this as I’m watching this on TV.  I assume many of you share this with me — seeing these scenes.

It’s hard to feel safe right now.  Again, as on Monday, I am getting messages from people who are NOT here, asking me if I’m okay.  I appreciate people reaching out.  That does help.

I just got a phone call from the local police, telling us not to leave our homes.  I am picturing this guy, roaming the streets, becoming more desperate, perhaps about to break in to my home.

My bf came downstairs, while I was in the kitchen, and I jumped. I jumped out of involuntary fear.

Every place that is shut down, right now, is a place where I’ve lived, worked, or gone to school.

As I am writing this, the media are showing “an unfolding scene” in Kenmore Square, another place I’ve spent many, many normal, pre-2013 Marathon Day hours.

The whole world is watching, as the media — right now — is filming this “movie”, this story, filled with speculation and fear, with “tension so high” (I am quoting the TV commentator, as I am watching too, right now).   I’m in a movie I didn’t choose — that I didn’t want — right now.

I recognize all the scenes they are showing, on TV —  as these two guys have been wreaking more havoc– these guys, whose movie I am apparently in, right now.

I’ll say it.

This feels traumatic, on some level.  This is — in the moment — changing my world in ways I cannot control. It is making my world look different  It is making my world — all these familiar touchstones of my entire daily life — look dangerous.

I am in the first stage of trauma, I guess. Shock.  Not understanding.  Trying to make meaning, in the midst of violent chaos which also FEELS VERY FAMILIAR, but in a new way. What’s being reported by the media — more bombings, shooting, escapes, chases — are familiar to me from movies.  The location, the geography, the visuals, are super familiar to me, from every day life.

I don’t know about you, but I get really affected, when I see a local scene I recognize in a friggin’ movie.

This is new, though. Not sure how it’s going to affect me.  I am aware of lots of people, all around me, being affected — being changed by a new experience.

This will have an effect, for a while.  I’ll see it in myself, in others who live where I live. I’ll see it, in my work, as a psychotherapist, who works at one of the affected hospitals.

I don’t know how this story is going to end, but I do know that I’ll be seeing the effects.

I know that I — and lots and lots of other people — will be trying to make meaning of this, in order to regain a sense of “enough safety.”

Like I am trying to make sense, right now.

I wrote on my Facebook page, earlier this week, the following:  “I’m grateful I live in a world where I can blog. Really.”  I wonder if people knew what I meant?  I wonder if that makes sense to you, right now.

When I was working with people in groups, yesterday, we were making lists of “What Helps Right Now.”  People named these things:  “Distracting,”  “Helping Others,” “Taking Care of Myself,”  “Not watching TV”, “Connecting with others.”

My addition to the list?  “Writing about it.”

Here.

Thanks for reading.

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Day 107: Has the external world changed? I haven’t.

Who knows if that title makes any sense, at all.

I am trying to figure out whether the external world has changed, that much, because of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, two days ago. It feels like it has, but that doesn’t mean that it has.

As I and others try to make meaning of this — so we can go on with our lives — I’m experiencing a debate about how safe it is out there.

On the one hand:

The world feels scarier.  Things are getting worse. It’s less safe than before. I am not going to go out into crowded places again.  I will avoid these kinds of public celebrations, since the people who are supposed to protect us didn’t do enough to prevent this from happening.

On the other hand:

Boston feels scarier, but this sort of thing happens, somewhere, a certain amount of the time. It just hasn’t happened this close to home before. If we change how we act because of fear, the people who do these kinds of things have won. 

This is how I’m seeing that “debate,” right now:

It’s the negotiating we do, as we move through life, trying to figure out how safe we are: How much we should venture out, away from what feels safer.

It’s natural to want to protect ourselves.  But how much do we need to do that?

Sometimes I say this to people, who have told me horrifying, trust-mangling stories of things that have happened to them,  “It’s amazing you ever leave home.  How do you do that?”

We figure out how to do that — to venture out there —  to a greater and lesser extent, every day.

Sometimes when we go out there, it feels like the “wrong” thing to do.  Too risky,  Maybe even  foolish, counter-intuitive, the opposite of self-preservation.

Sometimes when we stay in our homes, it feels like the “wrong” thing to do. Phobic. Cowardly. Crazy.

How can we be “smart” about this, and  do the right thing?

What the hell is the “right thing”, anyway?  And if we can’t figure out what the right thing is — when it comes to survival, for cripe’s sake — what the hell should we do?

There’s so much evidence for why any decision we make about safety is “wrong.”  There are so many arguments for both sides of the debate.

I notice that some people I know are more careful than I am about self-protection. They scan the environment for danger, more than I do.

They’ll point out when my shoelaces are untied. They’ll tell me to watch out for cars when I’m crossing the street.

When they do that, I sometimes have a negative reaction. I wonder: Am I taking good enough care of myself?  Do they think I’m not capable of doing that for myself?

Today, I’m thinking that some people are more careful than others, in that regard.  They negotiate that question of how safe it is differently than I do.

That doesn’t mean I’m foolish, though. It just means I’ve made different decisions. It means that I have a different “style” regarding How to Keep It Safe Enough.

Some people, who know me, tell me I’m “fearless.”  I find that so ironic, because I’m scared so much of the time.

I’ve learned to calibrate and adjust for my own fear. That’s what I’ve done, dear reader.  I have learned, as I’ve grown and aged, that the world is not as scary as I fear it is.  Even if sometimes — like today — it feels a lot more scary than it usually does.

I’ve decided to look for what is Not Scary — out there and within other people.  That makes me happier.

It’s riskier, perhaps.  It’s not wrong. It works for me.

It might take me a while to get back to my “base line” — the way I usually negotiate risk and fear — after the images I’ve seen of people being hurt and  the changes that I see, as I look around at my beloved Boston.

But I’ll get there.

And so will you, every time the world seems scarier.  And you’ll do it, the way you always do, in the way that works for you.  But with more experience and wisdom, every time.

Thanks for reading.  Take care of yourself, the way you know how.

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