Standing Strong: Resiliency in Traumatic Times

We’re so busy with our lives and what goes on around us that when events happen somewhere else, they are somewhere else. When I heard about what happened in Paris last Friday night, I was devastated. As a performer, I couldn’t believe that concert venues and pizzerias were now terrorist targets. I performed in Paris back in ‘06 and would have never dreamed of this. I also have family in the Paris area and contacted them straight away. Fortunately, all were safe.

It was kind of a confusing weekend with all of this going on. I read about the Kenya massacre that occurred back in April of this year. The fact that I don’t live in NYC anymore came to mind. It literally just struck me when I just received an email from an associate regarding the past weekend’s traumatic events. The human brain is an amazing living organism that protects its vessel at all costs. I had completely blocked out my experience as a New Yorker on 9/11. My associate attached a document from the American Psychiatric Foundation on Coping with Terrorism and it suddenly brought it all back. No one that I knew was killed, but oohhhhh… did it affect me. The resulting consequences have been felt by a good portion of the people on the planet in one form or another.

The city basically shut down for I don’t know how long. Myself and many others affected all over the world shut down with it. I was already a fan of “checking out” for years, but the events just kicked it all into gear. I went into an instant tailspin while drinking, smoking and ingesting whatever else I came across, 24/7 for the next few weeks. It was the only thing I could do to be rid of the hate and fear I was experiencing. At the time, I was working in a cafe and everyone else I knew in the neighborhood (at least it seemed that way to me) was on a similar mission. This, of course, made it all OK as it was a “socially acceptable” thing to have a few drinks to “take the edge off”. The unexplainable events were an extra BIG excuse to do so.

This is not an uncommon reaction to serious events in our lives, especially for people who already have unhealthy behavioral issues. Those struggling with addictions often resort to dysfunctional coping mechanisms, such as denial and blame, which tends to lead them to use a substance or behavior as a means of escape. We seek out relief at any cost and nothing can get in our way. Lose a loved one, we seek an alternative reality mourning with overindulgence in alcohol and food. A lover leaves us, and we sleep with the first victim to show up. We don’t live up to our expectations of ourselves and we reach for the psychedelia that makes it all colorful. We get attacked and anger takes over, leading us to drink and use at them. Not only are we tormented by these events, but now we continue the torment ourselves. For some people, it’s a temporary thing and they move on shortly after, hopefully with minimal consequences. For others, it can set off an avalanche that easily becomes a force not so easily reckoned with.

Life is going to happen regardless of our reality and the situations around us. If you or someone you love has experienced a traumatic event in life, then seek the comfort of family and friends who can watch over you and each other. Seek help and inform yourself on how you can either better the situation or best cope with the situation in the present and moving forward. There is no amount of drugs or alcohol that will change the situation for the better. They can only make it worse by diminishing your capacity to cope in a positive fashion, not to mention experiencing any undesired consequences.

If you feel someone you know and/or love would identify, please feel free to share and leave a comment if you’d like.

I pray that you and yours are safe and those directly affected recover peacefully. Resiliency lies within ourselves and in the unity of our communities.

Love Life Today. THiS ReCoVeRY LiFE.

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