Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dammed-Up

SC Canal Breach, October, 2015
Dams are a good thing.  They hold back water from destroying or inundating low-lying areas.  The whole country of the Netherlands is defined by and survives by its dams, which keep out the sea.

When dams break, through natural or unnatural events, there is damage and destruction that happens in the area below the dam.  The force of the water released by a breach of the dam is incredible to watch and dangerous.  There are many stories in the very recent past of dams in South Carolina breaking under the force of thousands of gallons of water raining down in early October, 2015, resulting in 18 dams being breached, and countless homes and businesses being destroyed.  An earlier example happened in Toccoa Falls, GA, in 1977, and resulted in destruction and loss of lives, and is memorialized in the book Dam Break in Georgia.

Often, people who live in the aftermath of trauma feel dammed-up.

Don't get me wrong.  In the beginning, when things first happen or first come to light, it is expected that they will talk about their traumas, maybe shed some tears...and people are, for the most part, supportive.

However, after a while, the support wanes.  The attitude changes.  People start saying things like, "why aren't you over that yet?" and "time heals all wounds" and "you need to forgive and forget".

What is meant by those statements is something totally different than what is actually said.  What is REALLY meant is more along the lines of "we are tired of hearing about your pain, so quit talking about it already" and "if you MUST talk about it, go see someone professional so I don't have to listen to it any more."  This is more about the listeners' discomfort than it is about the victim's pain.

After a while of hearing these statements, ad nauseum, the traumatized person becomes wary of speaking of their pain.  Instead of being able to continue the healing process, the pain and tears become dammed-up, because no one is willing to be the receiver of the pain.  Sure, there ARE professionals (I am one of them!), but for one reason or another, these caring individuals may not be accessible to the person who is hurting, or it may not be enough to talk to someone who is PAID to listen and act in a caring manner.

So, this is where I find myself.  Dammed-up.  There are tears and memories and painful connections that need to be explored and shared and talked-through, and precious-few people who are willing or available to talk.  I see a counselor.  She is helpful, but she is, by design, not my friend.  She is a professional.  And some days, I need a friend to talk to, to dump on, the cry with.

*Picture from GA Tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering article

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