Archive for January, 2011

25
Jan

Gated Grief officially launched on Thursday evening to a crowd of 150 people!  I would have been thrilled if 75 people had arrived, so when at 7pm the room suddenly was buzzing with dear friends, I felt stunned and humbled.

Though I had been nail biting anxious for days beforehand, once I began describing my journey of the last six years, the words flowed from me in a steady stream.  I hadn’t anticipated the audience’s deep engagement—people’s faces focused, alert, alive.  When I finished, people were standing up–to applaud.  I lost my composure, because I saw that my work has meaning for others.  Its story is the story of others as well as my own.  I can’t think of a word for the joy that makes me weep but that is what I experienced Thursday night when the storyteller and the audience completed a circle and created something greater than the sum of our parts.

I am in Atlanta now to speak on Wednesday night with a man who has been one of my heroes for the last few years- Dr. Ed Tick, author of War and the Soul.  I am humbled again.  As I embark now on speaking to strangers rather than to my friends, my community gave me an invaluable gift.  They showed me that they hear their story in mine; my story makes them wonder about their own; they are reconsidering their fathers’ wars; their mothers’ struggles; they have a whole new way of seeing their families.

May our community continue to grow and to share our stories…..

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
14
Jan

This is the story of John Ward who lives in Australia.  HIs father was a veteran of WWII and was among the liberators of Bergen Belsen.

He would come out of the darkness, lost somewhere in a fog of morphine and over-proof rum. He would rave, scream, shouting and crying reliving things he experienced during the war. He was a drunken, abusive, violent bastard and he was my father.

We huddled in the front upstairs bedroom in 32 Probert Street , Camperdown an inner city working class suburb of Sydney . Mum, Patty Lorraine, baby sister Joy and me, with a galvanised bucket in the corner to urinate in, waiting for him to smash his way through the door to get at us.
When he began noisily climbing the stairs towards us, I remember the sounds of everything about me turning down as if some unseen hand had turned a knob on a radio down and down.
I have never been so frightened and powerless in my life. Here I was at about eight or nine years old and there is a slobbering cursing stranger on the other side of the door.
I am in primary school ‘supposedly’ in my mind having to protect my family from someone who was four times my size, and had already bashed most of us with his fists, and his vacant eyes and foul beer or rum soaked breath; left a horror a sensory imprint on brains for life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“When I grow up I will never drink and my family will always sleep safe in warm beds…..I’ll make sure they are protected and never go hungry”…..I promised myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The two-story house was part of a terrace. No doubt ‘gentrified’ by now. Many families lived within earshot around us.

So ultimately they suffered the same sleepless nights and ineffective school days when he started up having come home from the pub after the six o’clock swill the swearing and shouting would begin and the cry would go up from the neighbours; “The f——g Wards are at it again” and soon after the wallopers would arrive. He would put up some resistance, they would give him a thump or two and he’d be off to the cells in Newtown Police Station for some time.

We missed a lot of school or slept through a lot of lessons after finally getting to bed sometimes after 4 am. It all came to a head one night when he began shouting at the foot of the stairs and patty threw the night’s accumulated **** bucket over him as he climbed upstairs. She actually thought that would deter him?

Everybody rushed into mum’s room and bolted the door. Mum is by this time screaming “help us, help us” my sisters are reduced to tears, his fist crashed through the panel of the door and reached in for and pulled open the bolt, that is when I literally shit myself. My legs couldn’t move, my eyes were open so wide, no sound came out of my mouth and that almost solid silence filled the room.

Mum and the girls ran out around and behind him and he came straight for me. I fell back he fell on me and began choking and punching. Some how I slipped from his grip, he was after all soaked. I clearly remember thinking I was in a place where I couldn’t be any lower as a creature on this god’s earth. Terrified, smelling of other people’s urine, my own faeces down my shorts legs, I ran into the night not seeking my family but simply as a coward fled. I sat into Camperdown Park in the cold, frightened and shivering till I woke with the dawn and crept home like a mongrel dog that I was. I remained shamed by this all my life.
I learned that most times you don’t know how you will react to life’s situations until you are confronted. And then again you may react differently the next time the same thing turns up.

The Police took him away again and he ended up in Concord Repatriation Hospital for some weeks getting electric shocks to his brain to control his behaviour. He was a bit of a zombie for a while and mum got pregnant with Rhonda.

About this time I wagged school a lot and wandered into the city. I remember seeing the AWA radio tower in Clarence Street as probably the tallest building in Sydney , wow!

You may remember newsreel footage of the mid 40’s early 50’s as you grew up, and how that footage let us know (in a visual form) what was happening around the world; weeks after the event of course. Well those news reels were my escape. Down by Wynyard station and at the State Theatre in Market Street you could watch a whole hour of news reels for sixpence. Plus the series of newsreels started over again so I managed to pass the hours learning about the aftermath of World War Two.

The thing that has stayed with me was the first images of British soldiers entering Bergen Belsen concentration camp. The stick figures in vertically striped pyjamas, the stunned look on the soldiers faces as their bulldozers pushing 20 or 30 skeletal, naked cadavers into a trench and I’m thinking at the age of 10 or 11 “this is where he has been and this is why he is such a bastard?”

For me that was some sort of comfort because I could make sense of the horror and rage he let out when he was so drunk or off his head. I warmed to him a little when he was sober, but could never look on him as a person I could love.

The turning point for me to get back to school and stop being a truant came from one newsreel of a comical offering illustrating the Archimedes principle.

The narrator explained in, at that time, a familiar yank drawl, “the weight of water displaced by a floating vessel, [in this case the Battle ship Missouri ] is equal to the total weight of the vessel and contents, say 50,000 tons”.

He then went on to show a very large lady in a full bathing suit and bathing cap, standing back on to a claw foot bath, full to the brink. “Mary has a displacement of 190 pounds” he says, then she falls backwards into the bath creating this great splash, and it hit me like a thunder bolt. I got it!!

That was one of the funniest moments in my little life up till then. But being a boy the thing that stayed with me was each time I went to the loo after that, I would turn as I reached for the square of torn newspaper, look down in the throne and in a mock American voice declare launched, “the Battleship Missouri”!

To this day that is how I remember Archimedes.

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
5
Jan

Jerry Yellin, a fellow member of the Military Writers Society, came home from the Pacific in World War II with anguish and trauma.  He finally found relief when he discovered transcendental meditation (TM), and in the last few years he has been dedicating himself to making TM available to today’s troops fighting in and returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  “We are facing an epidemic of PTSD- with its consequences of suicide and broken families.”  But transcendental meditation can help us avert this crisis.

Yellin has joined forces with David Lynch whose foundation promotes making TM available to the troops and veterans.  They held a big fundraiser in New York yesterday.  Here is a link to a presentation they held earlier in the day.  It contains some powerful words about war’s wounds and the difference TM can make.

www.livestream.com/DavidLynch

www.livestream.com/DavidLynch

The Multigenerational Ripple of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
5
Jan

Last week the New York Times published a front page article, “Families Bear Brunt of Deployment Strains” that portrayed the profound consequences for families, especially their young children, of a parent being deployed. Half of the troops deployed have children. No one will be surprised to hear that wives of deployed soldiers struggle with depression, anxiety, and sleep disorder and that the children have high levels of anxiety and difficulties at school and at home.

The article focuses on a family—the Eisches: a single dad, Brian and his two sons- Joey, age 8 and Isaac, age 12. When Brain was deployed to Afghanistan last January, he turned to his brother to take his sons for a year. Their pain was much higher than their dad and uncle anticipated, the adjustments much more stressful for both families. Then Brian was shot in his legs, which created intense pressures for the brothers’ families. Isaac said he is more attached to his dad now, and everyone feels grateful that Brian returned home in one piece. They are all too aware that many other children will not get their father or mother back.

It is important that the media report on the sacrifices of military families, so that the rest of us can have some idea of what those sacrifices are. But as I read this article I went from appreciation to amazement and shock when I read the four pages of comments that followed the online version of the article. Many readers argued that the story provides the best argument against war; as the older son Isaac says, “Why can’t we just, like, end the war?” But there were responses that surprised me such as:


“Unless I’m missing something, all these people willingly signed up.” correct?”

and

“All Troops signed up without pressure or mandate. They did it themselves so don’t blame US presidents or the general public for their family problems. The US Military is like a religion and indeed these poor kids are forced to live with it. What else is new!”

and

“Sorry, I don’t buy the attempted pathos of this story, which really belongs in the New York Post.
These people made their decision to become soldiers with their eyes wide open.
Regardless of whether they did so for the reliable paychecks and a lifetime of military benefits, the camaraderie, or whether they’ve chosen to buy into the brain-dead mythology that their “service” is protecting American freedoms, these people made a conscious decision to sign on the dotted line.

It’s far too late in the game to try to heap pity on their situation, or to even suggest they were naively duped to become soldiers. Surely the Times, in this story, isn’t suggesting they were too stupid to realize that joining the military could be disruptive to their families.

This is just one of the consequences of their own free will. One, I should add, that is far less horrific than several others that could be mentioned.”

There were many more comments that expressed support for our service members and showed understanding of how a veteran’s family is vulnerable to war’s invisible wounds. But the huge gulf between those comments and the ones I quote above chills me and heightens my concerns about the consequences for a society that relies on an all voluntary military. It is all too easy to disconnect ourselves from war when we see ourselves immune from the sacrifices it extracts. All too easy to judge those who do choose to serve and to absolve one’s self of responsibility to them. These comments express the division I see between our military and our civilian worlds that I wrote about on November 30th– a division in which civilians have no idea what motivates those who enlist, who see the only motivation possible as financial or hormonal. A division in which an opinion of the war extends to those who are fighting it, just as happened during the Vietnam era. But at least then, people acted on their convictions and protested the war.

I believe it moral cowardice to dismiss the burdens and wounds of military families without first and foremost opposing the war or insisting on compulsory service. And whether or not we believe a person is responsible for the consequences to them of choosing to enlist, it is cold-hearted arrogance and meanness to be indifferent to the effects on the children of their parents’ choice to defend their country.

The Multigenerational Ripple of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
مبلمان اداری صندلی مدیریتی صندلی اداری میز اداری وبلاگدهی فروشگاه اینترنتی گن لاغری شکم بند لاغری آگهی استخدام آگهی رایگان تبلیغات کلیکی آموزش زبان انگلیسی پاراگلایدر ساخت وبلاگ بوی بد دهان