Even the most adept gardener can find themselves unprepared for the fury and destruction left in the wake of a tornado. Sitting here in my mind-garden, reflecting on these words, I can barely see the devastating terrain about me. One by one, I pick up the words from the rubble in my mind. I am determined to build something new from this rubble.
We all suffer loss. Some more than others, perhaps. What happens when the suffering is so deep, and so prolonged? It tears a hole in the very fabric of life itself ... and sometimes someone slips through.
Charles Stevenson Shane Lightle was a BIG man in many ways ... to many people. A loving husband and father, Shane's love for his family and his community was big, indeed. Shane was a poet and a philosopher ... and a warrior, who served his country as a Navy SEAL, and served his community teaching martial arts to young men and women. He touched many lives, and the world has a big hole in it where he once stood.
He will always be my little boy ...
Shane always had a fierce will. Even as a toddler, once he set his sights on a target, or determined a course of action, his determination seemed inexhaustible. One of my most amazing memories of Shane as a child demonstrates the presence of that force of will.
Shane was small enough to still require a high-chair, and we were having lunch with my mother at her house one day. Shane was not cooperating with my mother's attempt to get him to eat his mashed potatoes ... and he was blowing them out as soon as she fed him a spoonful.
Now ... anyone that knew Nanny (my mother), knew better than to spit anything at her, and this would seem to be Shane's time to learn this lesson. My mother had a fierce will of her own, and after several attempts to get one bite swallowed they were locked in a fierce battle of wills. Shane's final tactic was to hold the spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth ... but refuse to swallow! Not even Nanny could make him swallow ... so he sat there ... in his high-chair ... for HOURS! By mid-afternoon a quick check of the contents of Shane's mouth revealed he still held what once MUST have been mashed potatoes ... and Nanny relented. Defeated by his impish grin Nanny granted victory in this intense battle of wills.
Shane's will always seemed so limitless. When he returned from active duty as a Navy SEAL, I couldn't find the courage to hear much of the stories he would sometime share of his experience in the desert. He was soon married to his high-school sweetheart, quickly followed by the birth of his sons. As a fierce competitor in Mixed Martial Arts, I had to turn my head away ... unable to watch Shane's will receive each violent blow.
Slightly more than two years ago another tragedy tested Shane's will - the tragic death of one of his twin sons, Michael, during a family outing.
Shane's will was great, but his suffering so deep. Even the greatest among us have limits.
"After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." - US Department of Veteran Affairs
Nearly everyone will encounter some traumatic event during the course of life. Most will recover. The spectrum of response to a traumatic event is varied and broad ... and dependent on many factors, such as genetic predispositions that may well suggest some are more likely to experience PTSD after a trauma than others.
"In summary, several factors need to be considered when examining the heritability issue in PTSD. Family studies are difficult to interpret since it is difficult to know to what extent the increased vulnerability to PTSD in family members results from genetic factors, other biological factors, or shared experience. Also, the relative contribution of genes and shared environment may well vary across the phenotype: nature of trauma, severity of trauma, gender, age of onset, comorbidity, and cultural background; for example, the genetics and family risk of PTSD arising in a child exposed to incest may differ from PTSD arising in an adult who is physically assaulted. Similarly, PTSD that is comorbid with depression may be associated with a different familial pattern to PTSD without depression. In a study of family risk factors among rape victims, Davidson and colleagues18 found that major depressive disorder was increased in first-degree relatives of female rape survivors with chronic PTSD compared with healthy control subjects. Furthermore, individual vulnerability to depression was an independent risk factor for chronic PTSD." - Molecular Psychiatry July 2001, Volume 6, Number 4, Pages 360-362
That particular gremlin of the human psyche that we call PTSD has been creating chaos in my mental garden for many years now. My son, Shane, is not the only child of mine to suffer the consequences of post-traumatic stress in devastating ways. Both Shane's sister and half-sister struggle to live with PTSD, and I am all too familiar with the pain and suffering caused when the mind and heart are broken.
Many associate PTSD as primarily a soldier's disease. Facts reveal that the condition is far more prevalent, and you likely know someone who suffers with PTSD. Our neighborhoods are filled with men and women, girls and boys ... of all ages and backgrounds who struggle with the devastation left in the wake of traumatic events. They ride next to us in elevators, and offer back to us our change in check-out lines. They bake our pizzas, and teach our children ... and sometimes walk in our children's shoes.
So ... here I sit ... in my little patch of handmade-space ... and is my nature, I went searching for an image that somehow spoke the words in my heart. Lots of quilts get born that way, but I wanted something now. Safe In Torn Net, by Rajesh Chopra, seemed to capture both my emotions ... and hope. The title held it all, for me.
The way you mend a torn net ... is one broken link at a time. Our best practice against the PTSD gremlin running rampant through our neighborhoods and lives is to ensnare it, in the net of humanity that cares for each other ... with ams linked securely ... and strong. We need the skills and resources to sniff out the gremlin as soon as possible, and we need to be willing to talk about difficult things without fear.
Earlier this year I produced a video on Handmade-Health about my desire to study Bio-Acoustics and eventually learn to craft the frequencies required as remedy for homeostasis. In early January, I'll be attending the first half of that training, specifically focused on PTSD. If funding permits, I hope to complete the training by the end of January, and soon be operational as a local resource in Charlottesville, Virginia. To support the funding for the remaining training & equipment needed, please visit the vocal profiling page and take advantage of the special offer.
I do not know if vocal-profiling can lead to prevention of tragic outcomes for those that live with PTSD. I don't think anyone else knows, either ... yet. In these times of big data, it seems appropriate to find out. It won't return those that have slipped through the torn fabric of our lives to our embrace. It may, however, give us clues to make the very fibers of our lives more resilient.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with the after-effects of trauma, you are not alone. Reach out to resources in your local area ... on-line ... or reach out to me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Trades Of Hope