This morning as I lay in my snuggly warm bed, I was looking forward to writing a post on Trauma and Immigration: A Humanitarian Crisis. I was planning my outline and developing clear boundaries in order to complete the task in a timely, efficient manner. I was still struggling with how to write something that would not divide us but bring us together all while helping people understand the impact of trauma. I decided to take note of all that I have in order to really get a sense for the deprivation that is being experienced.
I took a hot shower with soap, washed my hair with shampoo and chose both an outfit and hairstyle that would keep me cool in my air conditioned home. I ate my gluten free cereal with almond milk and watched our “Acting Director of Animal-Human Relations”, Ruckus protect us from a squirrel invasion that clearly threatened our borders. That is when I decided that there must be some sort of primal instinct to protect what is ours while keeping others out. I thought, I shall called it, Traits of Protection Theory!
(Please, do not email me about political views. I’m not trying to be offensive or political, at all. I am merely sharing my internal thought processes however skewed they may appear. Keep reading, I always come back to center).
Makes some sense, right? I convinced myself I was onto something, as I frequently do and then set about to find evidence to support it or more realistically, find out that it’s already been established. Remember that scene in The Blind Side where Sandra Bullock tells Michael Oher’s coach that he scores really high on protective instincts? In my mind, this was going to be a piece of cake.
As I was doing a little research of course, I switched gears. It’s really more like a drift, for me. I am laser focused and then, one thought leads to another and then another and then, well, it’s anybody’s bet! Let’s get back to what actually took place, shall we?
I began to think about those who give freely of their time, money, knowledge, materials, and love. I imagined, Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) say, “Those odd ducks are clearly anomalies to Traits of Protection Theory”. After I thoroughly cracked myself up, I began to wonder where do those odd ducks come from? What makes that happen for some and not for others? I thought about all of the things we know affect our wellness (which I, actually wrote about it the piece) and then, it hit me! Um, yeah, Hello?! I don’t think there is a test that quantifies protective instincts for humans, the way they made it seem in that movie! Once again, my theory isn't a theory at all.
There aren’t odd ducks. There are just people. I know lots of folks who are both highly protective of our borders and also give freely of their time, money, knowledge, materials, and love. We just get caught up in this political thing of thinking it’s about borders, or immigration reform or blah, blah, blah. We forget that at the heart of the matter are people. Men, women and children who were probably feeling some combination of desperation, courage, and hope for a better life.
So, I set out to write the piece. It’s the first thing I’ve written for a long time. It’s not great. It took me hours. I am not entirely sure that I will ever write another one. By the time I was done, I felt like I had wasted my time. I had found reports from previous years about the substandard conditions of detention centers. I couldn’t imagine how that situation had any chance at being effective. Then, I started to feel like I haven’t done enough. In all reality, I haven’t done anything.
I began to feel overwhelmed. In my heart, I feel that we are all responsible for the traumatic experiences that will undoubtedly cause long term psychological, social, and physical dysfunction. We will have to deal with those consequences as individuals and as a nation. What are we supposed to do? Our system has failed. I don’t have the answer for fixing it. It is a really complex problem.
I do know that I have treated hundreds of trauma survivors and some perpetrators. What I’ve learned is that the things that seem like “simple solutions” have lasting ramifications. I’ve learned that we can take action to prevent psychological distress and that doing something is better than doing nothing at all, even if you can’t fix the entire problem. As citizens, we can do better. We can move from bystanders to action.