Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

November 5, 2012

Gas Lines, Reminiscing and Trauma Brain Fuzz

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 6:59 pm
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It is just like graduate school again.  Thirty years ago I packed my textbooks and papers into my car, checked the calendar to see whether it was an even or odd day, and drove to the gas station to join dozens of others waiting for gas.  Today, my car baking in the warm sun, I estimate I am car number 40 waiting to hopefully fill my tank.  Like many others, I could wait and try to make what I have left in the tank last.  But like many others, I will feel better if I can drive off replenished.

The days since Sandy bring many reminders.  Today it is the relatively painless but tedious and annoying reminder of gas lines.  The dark nights are reminiscent of black out nights, playing cards with our sons on our den floor by candlelight.  That was in the heat of summer, and while we might have complained without air conditioning, I would gladly trade the bone chilling cold of the powerless house at night for a warm July evening.

The most difficult reminders are those that bring me back to the days and weeks after 9-11.  In both that tragedy and in Sandy’s wrath – I’ve been lucky.  On a personal and family level, I did not lose much.  So what is it that I’m “remembering”.  It is the sense of things changed, of a new normal, of not feeling like you can get the ground safely under your feet.  We know too many who lost too much.  We’ve seen and heard too many images of shifting sands and destruction.

We are camped out at wonderful friends – along with other families.  Everyone talks about lack of focus and lethargy, their inability to get any work done, even when they have power and internet and all the creature comforts in place.  It is that trauma brain fuzz that takes me back to the terrible struggles of September 11th.

After 9-11, I was quickly engaged in recovery work – for Project Liberty, the Red Cross, working with schools.  Nothing is better for dealing with trauma than action.  Nothing beats feeling powerless like doing something that matters or makes a difference.  Even accomplishing small things can lift the spirit.

Today I received two requests that have helped get my brain systems operational.  A student of mine, a teacher himself, asked if we could dedicate part of this evening’s class to helping our students cope with the trauma.  (Many of my students teach in schools in the hardest hit areas of Long Island and Queens).  I received an email asking for volunteers in hard hit areas tomorrow.  I responded yes to both requests.

I know it will not get my lights on, or heat my house, or fill my gas tank.  But it is a way I can take the power back from Sandy, a way I get to be in charge.  I think I feel some neurons de-fuzzing already – just in time for the next storm heading our way.

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