“For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
—Excerpt from “The Hill We Climb,” Inauguration poem by Amanda Gorman
The world today is in on-going recovery. Why? you might ask. Think about the past eighteen months: A pandemic (which is not yet over), civil unrest, and climate change as intense fires and floods ravage our communities.
So, what effects might these events have on our psyche? How do we respond?
To illustrate this point, I will recount my experience of a recent trip to a well-known big-box store, my first since the pandemic began. It was a trip I had enjoyed in the past, and always took along my dog, perusing the paint colors and checking out the plants in the garden center, while speaking to the odd person or two along our travels down the wide aisles. How things have changed. Social distancing now means nothing to some folk, as well as respect and common courtesy. Hands thrust into my poor dog’s face without permission, angry, hostile glares from those who didn’t respect my boundaries when asked to keep back as I am immune compromised (and making me feel like I had done something wrong). As they encroached on my personal space at check-out, the once-wide aisles now seemingly enclosed in on me. I left with four samples of paint in almost the exact same color and nothing at all like I wanted due to the extreme anxiety and panic I experienced in my rush to get out of there as fast as possible. What in the world has happened?
The world is in a collective state of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD symptoms include anger and irritability, negative thoughts, blame-projection, and risky behaviors. Think about it. I experienced anger, irritability, blame-projection, negativity, and risky behavior (at least, for the time of a pandemic) in my recent trip to the store. I flashed back to the emotional abuse I had experienced in a past relationship and realized that not just I, but the world out there in general, is suffering some form of PTSD.
So, how do we recover from these ongoing events which are leaving trauma in their wake? How do we instigate a worldwide recovery?
Firstly, we must learn to live in the present. We can’t change what’s past, but we can learn from it. Establish a safe space where you can take a time-out from the world to recover and heal when needed. Cherish the little things: Family, friends, community. Slow down. Get back to basics. Consider each other as equals. Remember respect for each other. And let’s reconnect. Not disengage.
In some ways, we have been gifted a huge opportunity to recover from a world which seemed to be barreling towards disaster. It’s not too late for us to recover. But let’s try to figure out our future tomorrow, together, and put trauma in our rear-view mirror so that this period in history will be seen as one of the positive turning points in time because of the way we recovered from it, both as one and together.
Last Updated on September 9, 2021