Getting Out of Bed

Depression is exhausting. Depression is isolating. Depression is a state many of us visit, but depression is a state where some people live.

If you are one of the people who suffers from a depressive disorder — and there are many such disorders which have many different causes and a multitude of different symptoms — I’m willing to bet that the biggest challenge of the day is “Getting Out of Bed.”

What is it that makes it so difficult to get out of bed?

Bed is where we sleep. Anxious people sleep fitfully, trauma survivors sleep lightly, always listening and on guard, but depressed people sleep and sleep and sleep. I’ve known depressed clients who sleep 16 – 18 hours a day. I think the long slippery slide into depression is so wearing and tiring that by the time a person is actually “depressed,” clinically depressed, they have no reserves of energy, imagination, or ambition. They’re flat and feeling futile.

People who are sleeping are not expected to do the dishes, engage in conversation, or close a business deal. They are not expected to brush their teeth, comb their hair or be well-dressed. There is virtually no pressure on people who are sleeping.

Once one gets out of bed, though, the world starts with the expectations.

Something really sad happens when depression sets in. When you break your leg, you are physically limited. When you lose a job or a marriage or a loved one, you are emotionally changed. When you have memory problems or intellectual challenges, you have mental issues. However, when you are depressed, you are physically lethargic, emotionally bereft, and mentally in a fog which keeps you from being able to think and function. Depression is a total physical, mental, emotional disorder.

Professionals will tell you that if you are depressed and there is a cause, you shouldn’t worry. It’s when you are depressed and there is no cause that you should be concerned. I think that’s much too glib an explanation. MOST, if not all depression, starts with a cause. Sometimes the cause is visible, conscious and socially acceptable — like the death of a loved one. In that case, people are usually willing to give you a certain “allotted” amount of time — six months to a year, usually — and then you are expected to “snap out of it” and get back to “normal.” For one thing, the depression has changed your body chemistry. You now have your very physiology fighting against you. Secondly, all the causes of depression, like grief, are complex. If you’ve had a “complicated grief,” which, of course results from a complicated relationship — say the person who died was your father who was a deacon in the church and beloved in the community but who was an abuser at home with his family — now, there’s some complicated grief. And that’s just an example.

Also if you happen to be a sensitive person, an NF on the Myers-Briggs, your grief is not going to be tied up and put in a box very quickly. You are the kind of person who feels things deeply and needs time to digest and process. Also, if you take more than one hit at a time — lose your mother and get left by your husband –get down-sized at work and watch your wife die of cancer –again, just examples, you will not be bouncing back in the “prescribed” time. In fact, I dare say you are very likely to slide down the slippery slope and into a deep, dark well of depression.

Different situations, different times of life, different temperaments all lead to different outcomes. I want to take my broom to people when I hear them say, “What does she have to be depressed about?” Do not ever use those words around me. Unless you have walked three miles in her moccasins, you have no right to be anything other than kind and empathetic. Three of the most depressed people I ever worked with were among the best fakers I ever met in my life. All three were teachers, interestingly, and parents. When needed, they held their students in the palms of their hands and parented their children with finesse and wisdom. Then, in the silence of their own thoughts and feelings, they slid deeper and deeper into the well the longer they were called on to “fake good.”

And then, to top off the heaviness and the burden, there is the spiritual piece of depression. Here is the drivel and lie that others tell us if we mention to church friends that we’re struggling: People of faith are not supposed to be depressed. If you are a person of faith suffering from depression, you apparently are not very faithful, or you would not be depressed. (Henri Nouwen and Mother Teresa both suffered from severe depression all their lives.) The three most depressed clients I mentioned earlier are all Christians who have been slammed with the false requirement that Christians, for example, are not supposed to be depressed. So, there’s the blow that often takes people down. “I can’t even do that right! God is disappointed in me because I don’t have enough faith to fight off this depression.” Once again, do not ever use those words around me.

Let’s see: you can’t take medication because that makes you weak. You can’t talk about how you feel because that makes you a failure in your faith community. You haven’t “snapped out of your grief,” or gotten over your abuse, or recovered from your losses. You have no energy to meet your friends, no stamina to keep yourself together in the face of your robust, clueless family, and no belief that things will ever get better. That about sums it up. You are depressed.

I wish there was a magic bullet, a syllabus of do’s and don’ts, a template for how to climb out of the well, but there is not. You slipped into depression slowly and you will recover from depression slowly. Most of the work to be done to “bounce back” is solitary and PAINFULLY SLOW. Obviously, having a therapist to walk the path with you will really help, as will a supportive spouse or best friend who simply listens and doesn’t judge. But it can be an arduous journey. Like recovering from devastating physical challenges, most of the work will be done by the patient, and most of the work will be a battle of the voices in your head.

We all have voices. We have our own tentative, hopeful voice which tells us our truth. Then we have the other voices. One of my clients used to call these external voices “the chorus.” The chorus can get deafening. Most of the things they say begin with SHOULD, OUGHT TO, HAVE TO AND MUST. Those are the warning signals that you are immobilized between loyalty to yourself and the lessons of your family, neighborhood, church, school, scout leader or news commentator. Although my experience with people’s choruses is that their mothers and fathers are the main soloists. Just saying.

Be brave, pace yourself and focus on what you need to be true to yourself. It is lovely to have someone to walk this lonesome valley with you, but, most importantly, you need to be your own best friend by listening to your own voice and following your north star.

Peace as we do the best we can, and some days that is simply to breath. It is enough. Love, Susan


November 10, 2018 at 10:15 AM Leave a comment

A Season without Reason

More cause, my friends, for trauma reactions, anxiety and depression. It feels like a season without reason, this season of violence. In each of us the horrific news elicits a different response. My college roommate was from the Squirrel Hill suburb of Pittsburgh. She writes that they are heartbroken that this recent hate crime happened three minutes from the quiet street on which she grew up. The week before it was a shooting in Kentucky which corresponded with my spending that week with two friends who had grown up in the same area of Kentucky. We are all closely touched, traumatized, fearful and sad.

Meanwhile the political drama escalates to pipe bombs and attempted murders. It isn’t enough that they decimate and denigrate each other, the Democrats and the Republicans, but now the stakes have risen, thanks to a fanatical fringe, and we have the pawns of the fear mongers and haters translating their speech into action.

A New York Times column this week by David Brooks was titled, “After the shooting there’s always a lonely man.” This lonely man lived in his car or flew under the radar or seemed nice enough, although nobody ever talked to him. Or he plastered the internet with hate-filled speech, but who knew he was going to act on the speech. Or his van was covered with pro-Trump signs interspersed with pictures of Trump’s opponents caught in the crosshairs of a gun. And the perpetrator seems always to be “a lonely man.”

Everything in life, including sanity and safety relies on, in the words of David Brooks, “a network of relationships and connections and trust.” This network “is failing,” he concludes.  Everything about society today has become impersonal as we have moved, in the last generations, from our stable small communities to a mobile, disconnected metropolis.  We don’t know our neighbors, we don’t see our families, and we don’t feel supported by our co-workers. It’s every man for himself. Sex precedes a relationship, marriages are expendable, churches are closing by the droves, and kids are increasingly coming home to empty homes where they fend for themselves for meals and homework. Children are learning how to become adults from television shows and X-Box games. People on buses have their heads down and are playing Candy Crush on their phones. People at the gym walk around with earbuds and vacant stares.

Loneliness is the epidemic of this season without reason. Money, not kindness or loyalty or compassion, is the currency of this season without reason. Hatred is the underlying emotion of this season without reason. Hatred of what? As Alana Levandoski sings in her song, “Divine Obedience,”hatred of anything different.  (Go to the See all the Updates section under the petition at to find the link to Alana’s song which begins: “The sheep’s clothing came off.” In the twenty-four hours after she released this song, Alana lost 130 followers. Be sure to LIKE her if the song moves you as it has me.)

We are actually lucky there isn’t more crime resulting from this gigantic, gaping disconnect. (Surely, there are many, many more lonely men and women than there are lonely men and women who have turned violent as a result of their soul-destroying isolation.) David Brooks calls these people “the rippers.” They are ripped asunder and so they rip others. Richard Rohr calls these people “the transmitters.” In marriage and family therapy these are the people who pass their ripped material from one generation to the next, things like sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, nastiness, ridicule, hatred, betrayal and cowardice, not to mention alcoholism, drug addictions and criminal behavior that ranges from cheating on taxes to neglect and abandonment of the most vulnerable in society. Much of the ripped transmission is against the law — all of it is immoral.

As far as I can tell we have only one yardstick by which to measure our responses to this dilemma: What is under our control and what is not? If we can’t control it — like I can’t control the tone of the political ads — we can’t really do anything about it. We have all learned, however, that where we put our money influences advertisers, companies and even politicians. I may not be able to get the negative ad off the television, but if I and a few million of my closest friends refuse to support any politician who uses smear, insult, hatred, racism and division, we might be able to get the politicians to cut back and nicen up. I remember hearing a police officer who spoke to our neighborhood meeting tell us that the best way to keep our neighborhood safe was to acknowledge and engage strangers. If someone walked or drove through the neighborhood and we smiled at them and talked to them, they were very unlikely to commit any crimes in our neighborhood. We can control who and what we support and who and what we open our arms and heart to.

We all know “that lonely man.” I ran into him, although it was a her, in the grocery store last week. She definitely needed a human connection. She was talking to herself, so I joined the conversation. And I have friends and acquaintances from Utah to Virginia to Alabama who are withering from loneliness. I need to up my game. I can control sending a text, an email, a card or a note. When is the last time you got something handwritten in the mail? How did it make you feel? Who do you know who is in a health care facility or is homebound? We all know people. It may make us feel awkward to go visit someone, but the joy we give and the difference we make in a life is measurable. I worked with a client today who “fakes good” most of the time, but when I read her Facebook posts I can hear the loneliness, isolation, and despair. I don’t have to limit my contact, care or prayer to the one hour a week when she’s paying me.

David Brooks calls us “the weavers.” We are re-weaving the torn and tattered fabric of society. We can give this season a reason, each of us. We can make this the season of awareness and action. It doesn’t have to be big or constant. It doesn’t have to cost anything but some time and some thoughtfulness. Richard Rohr calls us the “transformers.” He says we either transmit what was given to us, or we transform what we were handed. In therapy sessions I have been so impressed by the  clients who refused to pass on what they endured. By sheer grit and determination, they have become weavers and transformers. This is the most we can ask of ourselves. Those who do this I call courageous.

Love and peace as we transform this season and weave new, soul-sustaining connections, Susan


November 3, 2018 at 10:32 AM Leave a comment

A Season of Fear

I know it’s Halloween, but that is not the season of fear which I . . . fear. I fear what is happening in our country in this present unfolding of what I can only call insanity. Most puzzling, how can the unwavering, unquestioning base of Donald Trump be evangelical, fundamental Christians?  It was my understanding that this large group of believers took the Bible literally. Jesus says there are two commandments: Love God and love your neighbor. It is really quite simple and straight forward.

When we love God, we embrace the divinity of God which resides as DNA in each of us. We each have a soul, and this soul we each have is a part of God tucked within us like a homing device so that when the time comes, we know the direction home to God’s arms. Loving our neighbor is equally transparent. We are COMMANDED, by that God we love, to love our neighbor as ourselves. I would not beat myself up, as supporters of Donald Trump have been asked to do to protesters; mock myself, as Donald Trump has done to sexual assault survivors; belittle myself as Donald Trump has done to disabled people; name-call (“rapists”) as Donald Trump has done to whole cultures of people. I would not step in front of the Queen of England or keep the umbrella over myself so my wife was pummeled by the rain and I was snuggy dry. How are any of these things examples of loving thy neighbor, or thy wife — whom I believe Paul tells husbands to treat like Christ treats the church — as thyself?

I have spent the last three weeks blogging about anxiety, depression and PTSD because all three of the major mental health issues have been triggered by recent, unfortunate and despicable events. (I haven’t even gotten to the children in cages.) Yet good Christian people continue to support Donald Trump and this administration. Good Christian people continue to assist and allow this president and this administration to put the financial gain of the few — the owners of coal mines, for example — ahead of the lives of their workers or the health of the nation.

I think it comes down to two questions: #1: Are we our brother’s keeper or is it every man for himself? Questions #2: Do we value money or human dignity and human rights? We are at a crossroads in history. Civilization has gone both ways over the course of time.

What matters to you? And what are you willing to do about it?

Your answers decide whether anxiety, depression and PTSD will exponentially expand or slowly but surely decrease. As long as we live in a culture and season of fear, only one thing will happen: things will get worse and people will get more desperate and the situation will become more dire. Fear begets fear.

The antidote to fear is faith. In what do you put your faith? What is rock solid in your life and in your belief system? If your faith is in people, as mine so often has been, I hope you fare better than I have. Is your faith in money and the financial system? Is your faith in industry, the stock market, or your bank? Look back at history. All of these human inventions have failed people as has human love and devotion.

Choose your loyalties carefully. Guard your heart and your pocketbook and your home.

I pray for each of you that where you place your faith turns out to be a solid investment which will not let you down.

I read something interesting today which came from an author and a book which I didn’t particularly like, but I think this conclusion on his part is spot on: Our prayers are answered when we realize that we have people gathering around us, God beside us, and  a growing feeling of strength, power and courage within us. (From Rabbi Kushner When Bad Things Happen to Good People.)

We are anxious when we feel dependent on our own resources. We are depressed when we feel alone and unprotected. We are survivors of PTSD because humans have let us down.

God bless you each as you put your faith in something greater than, more dependable than, and wiser and kinder than, anything human.

Namaste, my friends.

October 27, 2018 at 10:25 AM 1 comment

A PTSD Quiz for survivors of sexual trauma among other brave, courageous souls.

Does posttraumatic stress disorder have a grip on your life?

Ask yourself these questions:

#1: Do you feel like you have survived a trauma, and after the trauma your whole life changed, and you are still in some way suffering from the trauma?

#2: Do you have secrets?

#3: Have you forgotten segments of your past?

#4: Do you feel like an air traffic controller, constantly searching the skies around you for incoming danger?

#5: Do you start panicking if there’s nothing wrong and things are going smoothly?

#6: Are you a wreck unless you are in control of everything in your life?

#7: Are you overly passive, trying never to make waves?

#8: Are you overly aggressive, uncomfortable unless you’re calling the shots?

#9: Do you have trouble (probably BIG trouble) trusting people?

#10: Do you prefer animals to people?

#11: Do you have gastro-intestinal problems like IBS, acid reflux, or Crohn’s?

#12: Do you have physical problems which are difficult to diagnose but disabling, like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or intolerance to dairy or gluten?

#13: Are your tears uncontrollable? Either you can’t get them to start or you can’t get them to stop?

#14: Do you have nightmares?

#15: Do you awaken in cold sweats?

#16: Do you have flashbacks, where you feel transported to a past trauma?

#17: Do you think or see or smell or feel or hear things which aren’t there in real time?

#18: Can you read people extremely well?

#19: Can you sense the energy of a good person or a bad person?

#20: Do you hate surprises, even good surprises?

#21: Have the events of the last few weeks catapulted you back to some trauma of your own?

#22: Are you enraged that a trauma survivor would be questioned instead of believed?

#23: Do you feel dirty or ashamed or guilt-ridden because of things which were done to you in the past?

#24: Is it difficult for you to understand that PTSD is a disease of anger because you were an innocent victim of someone else’s despicable behavior?


So, how’d you do? Any of these apply to you? Many of these apply to you? This is just the tip of the iceberg of the symptoms people experience when they suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD teaches you that this is an unreliable, undependable, unpredictable world, and you better not let your guard down or you’ll be very, very sorry. It isn’t safe to trust people or believe what they say, and things are rarely as they appear. If you don’t know what’s happening every moment and aren’t in control, YOU ARE NOT SAFE. When you do feel safe, if you ever do, you had better get your radar turned back on, because this safety you feel is a tricky illusion and not to be trusted.

If this is you, please know there is help available. Knowledge is power, and awareness is 90% of every battle. If this is you, become aware that PTSD is the name of what you suffer from. Here are some things that help: Therapy; reading about PTSD; medication (as holistic as possible); meditation; physical exercise; learning to breathe deeply and evenly and slowly; joining a group of other PTSD survivors and working together to understand and reduce PTSD symptoms (under the eye of a trained mental health professional); studying your faith and deepening your reliance on it. These are just a few of the ways you might begin to turn the corner from being controlled by your PTSD to being in control of your PTSD.

Anger and rage are the predominant emotions of PTSD.  Because your control was taken away from you, you are enraged and mad as hell. How dare anyone control me, my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul? No one should ever be able to control another human being. That is why trauma and abuse resulting in PTSD, on the battlefield or in a home, as an adult or as a small child, is simply and unequivocally WRONG.

Seek therapy. Try to find a marriage and family therapist as our training is especially appropriate for PTSD. If you cannot find a therapist, send me a text (330.687.0707) or an email ( and I will do everything in my power to help you find a GOOD therapist. In lieu of that, I will do phone sessions with you. We will find a way to get you qualified, compassionate help.

I know that Christine Blasey Ford has triggered the nation. God bless her for her strength and courage. Now so many of us can get the help we need and deserve.

Be of good strength and know that this will all turn out right.

Love, Susan

I had this blog ready to go when I received an amazing gift. As many of you know, I am one of the seven authors of Barmen Today. (If you haven’t heard of Barmen Today and/or have not had a chance to read it, see to read the declaration and, should you choose, join the more than 3,000 signatories of the petition.) Alana Levanowski, a professional musician, read Barmen Today and was inspired to write a song based on the message of the declaration. Here’s the link to her blog on which she explains and debuts the song. You can also hear her on youtube and/or Facebook. The song is entitled “Divine Obedience.” She sings, “There comes a time.” My dear friends, that time is now.


October 20, 2018 at 3:56 PM Leave a comment

A Depression Quiz

Does depression have a grip on your life? Ask yourself these questions:

#1: Do you feel depressed?

#2: Is life too hard?

#3: Is it all useless, anyhow?

#4: Are you drowning in sadness?

#5: Are you cranky and irritable even if you don’t let it show?

#6: Do you find yourself hopelessly unattractive and unappealing?

#7: Do you find it hard to start things?

#8: Do you find it impossible to finish the things you do start?

#9: Is it all too much?

#10: Is everything simply too difficult?

#11: Does no one notice when you do manage to accomplish things well?

#12: Do you sleep too much?

#13: Do you want to stay in bed when morning comes?

#14: Is it impossible to sleep at night?

#15: Have your friends stopped calling and inviting you out because you never go?

#16: Do you play the blame game?

#17: Do you feel invisible?

#18: Are you undervalued?

#19: Does your body feel sluggish and heavy?

#20: Do you feel numb and emotionless?

#21: Do you feel sorry for yourself?

#22: Do you constantly get the short end of the stick?

#23: Are you ever able to please yourself and be pleased with yourself?

#24: Do others ever meet your expectations and offer you pleasure?

#25: Does the blue sky ever show through the clouds?


So how’d you do? Any of these apply to you? Many of these apply to you? This is just the tip of the iceberg of the symptoms people experience when they suffer from depression. Depression freezes your emotions and weighs you down like a block of ice. Even the most slender person feels like he or she is dragging around a ball and chain. Even the strongest person feels inadequate to the tasks of life. Depression is just too heavy. It is immobilizing, non-motivating, discouraging and feels likely to never change. At least this is how it feels from the inside.

Depression is a disease of the past, focused on mistakes, guilt, shame, and deep unfathomable sadness. The depression is often triggered by a current sadness, a grief, a job loss, a marriage which breaks apart, a failure to succeed with family, friends, career or life in general. Physical ailments often include chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and auto-immune disorders where the body attacks itself, just as the emotions of depression attack the heart and mind. Crises of faith may trigger depression as well.

If this is you, please know there is help available. Knowledge is power, and understanding what you are suffering from, admitting it and seeking help, are the first steps toward crawling out of the pit of depression. Here are some of the things that help: therapy; medication (as holistic as possible); reading about depression to understand what it is and the mind/body connection; meditation; physical exercise (even if the exercise is simply walking around the house twice a day; learning to breathe deeply and slowly; and joining a group of other depressed people (under the watchful eye of a trained mental health professional). A group can support the members as they take baby steps and make gentle strides toward change. Studying your faith and deeping your reliance on it does not help if your “God” is judgmental and punitive. Faith like that is often a contributing factor in depression. Never having been able to please God or one’s parents is frequently the start of a depressed life. (That is a topic upon which books are written.) These are just a few of the ways you might begin to turn the corner from feeling out of control because of your depression to taking control of your depression.

Spending time in nature or watching nature through your windows and adding color to your life are two of the secrets to subliminally beginning to perk yourself up. One of my clients who suffers from depression uses colored pens to write, has asked her husband to paint the rooms in her home bright colors, and chooses lively colored clothes even if she’s staying home. Depression is a dark, colorless disease. Color me happy and color my world joyful. It can’t hurt, and it just might help.

One small step a day is all you need to ask of yourself. Remember when a ship leaves port the change of direction of one degree on the compass will have that ship arriving in a different port.

“Yes,” is your new favorite word.

Yes. You can. I’ve seen people rise from the ashes. You can, too.

Love, Susan


October 13, 2018 at 9:08 AM Leave a comment

An Anxiety Quiz

Does anxiety have a grip on your life? Ask yourself these questions and see how you do on this quiz:

#1: Do I feel anxious?

#2: Do I worry more than most people?

#3: Am I a nervous wreck, even if no one but me knows it?

#4: Do I have trouble focusing?

#5: Is it hard for me to concentrate?

#6: Can I scare myself silly with a daydream?

#7: Do I have frequent nightmares?

#8: Do I dream or imagine myself powerless and not able to feel safe?

#9: Do my hands tremble?

#10: Are my legs often shaking and twitching?

#11: Am I terrified of being alone?

#12: Am I afraid to leave the house?

#13: Do I feel unsafe in crowds or around people I don’t know?

#14: Does my heart race, skip, or pound?

#15: Does a minor ache or pain make me think there’s something life-threatening going on in my body?

#16: Do I have TMJ?

#17: Do I get a lot of headaches?

#18: Is my stomach often upset and unsettled?

#19: Do I have “bathroom” issues?

#20: Do I sometimes feel on the verge of losing control?


So, how’d you do? Any of these apply to you? Many of these apply to you? This is just a smattering of the ways that people who are anxious exhibit symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety is crazy-making. If I had to boil an anxiety quiz down to one question, it would be: Do you feel crazy? People with anxiety often feel out-of-whack, off-balance, different-from-others, misunderstood, shunned, exhausted from holding it together, and, secretly, sort of crazy.

The major emotion of anxiety is fear. Just for a moment, imagine that something scares you. Perhaps there’s an unexpected noise in the house or maybe the ice cubes fall into the bucket in the freezer or the HVAC system turns on. What happens to your body when you hear that unexpected sound? You jump, tense up, have an exaggerated startle response, and become hyper-vigilant as though you were under attack (by the ice cubes!). Anxiety is typically about something that we may fear is going to happen in the future. Anxiety is based on imaginary things, not reality. People without imaginations don’t get anxiety.

If anxiety has a grip on your life, know there is help available. Knowledge is power and awareness is ninety percent of every battle. Start by knowing that you’re not crazy. Also know that anxiety, while about imaginary things that haven’t happened, is not imagined. You are really experiencing physical symptoms, like TMJ, diarrhea, or insomnia. Anxiety produces chemical, hormonal reactions in your body and these reactions manifest into physical symptoms. Bodies function best when they are relaxed. Anxiety is a disease of tension.

Here are some things that help: therapy, medications (the more holistic the better), reading about anxiety and learning coping skills, meditation, physical exercise, learning to breathe deeply and slowly, joining a group of other anxious people and working together to understand and reduce your anxiety (under the watchful eye of a trained mental health professional), and studying your faith and increasing your reliance on it. These are just a few of the ways you might begin to turn the corner from feeling out of control to feeling in control of your anxiety. It’s okay for you to have anxiety, but it is not okay for the anxiety to have you!

A word of caution: don’t ever get a group of anxious people together in a room without a trained professional there to guide you. My mother and I (two anxious people) one Sunday morning asked my sons, her grandsons, to drive to a near-by store to pick up the Sunday paper for us. They didn’t come back and didn’t come back. Soon, working together, sharing our anxiety, we decided they had driven off the road and into the lake. I don’t think we had concluded that they were dead, just that the horrific accident had happened. When they came home (with a perfectly dry car) they complained because they had needed to drive to a town a half hour away to get a paper for us. My mother and I never confessed our run away anxiety to them or anyone else. Anxiety causes so much unnecessary suffering!

Here’s to peaceful hearts, calm minds and the ability to laugh at ourselves.

Love, Susan




October 6, 2018 at 12:46 PM Leave a comment

Survivors in Crisis

We have all been triggered this week. Christine Blasey Ford was a courageous inspiration. She was not the trigger. The unfathomable reactions to her testimony were the triggers of clear and present danger.

I find it easier to imagine (or know) of a few ignorant males who disregard women and hurt them without conscience than to have had blasted in our faces that there are many, many men for whom assault, molestation, rape, and abuse of power are acceptable actions. This reality won’t even fit in my brain or my heart.

How is this possible? They each had a mother, of that I am sure. You can be given the gift of life by a woman and have no regard or respect for other women? You can stand before people and swear to love and cherish a wife and not have regard and respect for the wives of other people? You can hold a newborn baby girl, carry your little girl to school, teach your daughter to drive, walk her down the aisle, and, still, have no regard or respect for the other daughters of the world. How is this possible?

These men must all be aliens. And somehow we have elected them to “serve” us in political office, and they have solemnly sworn to do so, and they somehow have no regard or respect for more than half of the people they have sworn to serve and represent? How is this possible?

How can the women in their lives stand to look at them? These women know that these men have no regard or respect for women. How can they stand idly by and pretend not to notice that they are yoked to a man who is not to be trusted? Do they rape their wives at will? Have they molested their daughters? I have to think yes. If the answer is no, that they treat the women in their families lovingly and kindly and save their abuse for other women, then where does it stop? Where do they draw the line? Treat first degree cousins well but abuse second degree cousins?

We have seen that this vile sickness crosses lines of social, educational, and cultural strata. Well educated men are, from what we’ve observed this week, the leaders and shakers of assault and abuse on women. I dare say Donald Trump labeled the wrong group of men “rapists” when he suggested an entire nation of men were reprehensible. We better remove the log from our own eyes instead of pointing out the speck in the eyes of another. (Luke 6:41, in case you wondered — I looked it up.)

So, yesterday, in the UPS store, I passed by two men who were saying they didn’t blame Brett Kavanaugh for being fired up. He should have been. And wasn’t Trump as cool as a cucumber? They were really proud of him. Trump simply said, “If this is what we have to go through to get my man in there, then this is what we’ll do.”

Now, I wonder this: if either of those men had walked into a room where a man was lying on top of a teenager, one hand trying to rip off her clothes and the other hand over her mouth so she couldn’t scream, what would their reaction have been? What would the reaction of a normal, rational man, woman or child be? I can hear a child saying, “Stop hurting her!” Is this a crime scene or isn’t it? Is it morally acceptable to use force against another person? If attempted robbery of a property or a purse is a criminal act, I suggest that what Brett Kavanaugh stole from Christine Blasey Ford in that assault was much more precious than a purse or a piece of property. As she said so eloquently, and I have heard people, men and women, say for thirty years: My innocence, my trust, my self-worth, my peace, my confidence was stolen.

I am a person who lives in a grey world, not a world of black and white, but this is a black and white issue. It is either right or it is wrong to hold down, attempt to disrobe and subdue with a hand over a mouth another human being? Is violence morally acceptable? Is violence legal?

The reactions this week of the men who lead our country, the unfathomable remarks they made about violence, sexual assault and the use of power by the powerful against those of lesser power, have been sobering and saddening. I believe we have all been triggered not because we are trauma survivors or suffer from anxiety or depression, but we have been triggered because the depravity of moral conscience revealed this week puts all of us at risk. How do we live in this environment and not become part of the depravity? How do we even survive in these shark-infested waters? We have seen this week. makes me worry for the safety and sanity of us all.

The hope for the future lies in the solidarity of women and men who have a north star of moral certitude which holds at its center human dignity for each and every living being. No exceptions. These people exists in our lives and on the national screen. We have to find them, join with them, support them, and stay focused on regaining, as a nation and a people, a value system we are willing to live for and to die with. For those of us who believe in life after life, our souls depend on this. We can take with us into eternity only the clarity and kindness and mercy with which we have chosen to live this precious gift of life given to us by a woman who labored to bring us into this world.

Peace in each of our heavy hearts as we seek the kindred spirits who value dignity and grace for all.

Love, Susan


September 29, 2018 at 9:18 AM 1 comment

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