Archive for August, 2015

PTSD In Everyday Life

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

In her sermon last Sunday Ceci our rector said:
“I discovered that I was not the only person who had been
mistreated; and I had to come to terms with the fact that
those in authority who were in a position to do something
about it, did nothing for a long time. Many innocent people
were hurt by this.”

Lately I have been musing away at the idea of small forms
of PTSD. This process was begun by reading the memoirs of
Robert J Lifton, _Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir._
He writes about the psychological effects of the Hiroshima
bombing on the living victims, as well as the effects of
other forms of suffering.

This brought to mind my childhood fear of annihilation. I
remember talk in our household about a Biblical prophecy in
a letter of Peter, of fire raining from the sky. I think
this occurred at the time the Soviet Union tested their
first atomic bomb.

I remember each time I heard an airplane, looking up and
thinking, “Is this the one,” meaning the one with the bomb
coming for me. I mostly got over this, but I still look up
to see airplanes and I sometimes remember my old fear.

I remember air raid drills in school. I remember one which
was staged to test the emergency services. Before the
actual drill a film about butterfly bombs was shown in a
vacant lot near my home. In the actual drill, there were
loud aerial bursts from fireworks, safe bombs were tossed
on lawn and they practiced sandbagging them, and my friend
and I were part of the group taken to a triage center. We
were tagged DOA and given hot chocolate and cookies. The
circumstances gave me good reason to look up for the plane
coming for me, good reason to be afraid in daily life.

I remember the fighter plane carrying nuke-tipped missiles
that crashed across the street from the playing field at my
middle school. The pilot brought it down between two
buildings so the wings were sheared off the the fuselage
stopped before it hit the kids out playing in the field.
The pilot ejected after he had lined this up. He suffered a
broken leg.

I was a fearful person as a child, withdrawn, mostly
friendless, fearful of others. I have been freeing myself
from this all my life long. There are other events that
made me fearful, and I expect I will narrate them as well.
I am 72 years old and I am still afraid.

This strikes me as a mild form of PTSD in everyday life. I
will be telling stories of other daily PTSD, mine and that
of others.


Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

In Morning Prayer we have been reading the books of Samuel, the royal history of the Hebrew peoples. I was struck today by Joab’s killing of Absalom against the orders of David the King. These stories are very honest. They tell the history, warts and all. I was struck a week or two ago by the story of David and Bathsheba. Davis knocks up another guy’s wife and then arranges for the guy to be killed in battle and takes the woman as his concubine. Do other proud peoples tell stories like this in the history of their kings and ancestors? I doubt it. The Hebrew’s God is just but loving and forgiving. They are so secure in their faith that they can tell stories like these. This is Dark History, the stuff we never talk about, our shadow side. Bringing it out to the light of faith is healing.