In the article “Resilience during a Pandemic,” I made notes on the same concepts that Joy talked about. I’m going to have to practice with the 4 R’s to try and commit them to memory. I notice the parenthetical qualifier that Fetzner adds to responding with compassion: “while still holding them accountable and practicing healthy boundaries.” In thinking about some of my residents who have a history of trauma, I wonder whether it is common for folks with this history to also be manipulative? Or perhaps that can be linked to the unhealthy coping behaviors that some of these individuals are more likely to have – alcoholism or drug abuse. A couple of the people that come to mind for me have been seen as manipulative by other people in their life or by a staff member. I find that this makes it complicated to show compassion to these individuals. I feel compassion when I hear the stories they share with me, then I question myself when other people cast doubt on these stories. <span style=”display: inline !important; float: none; background-color: #ffffff; color: #333333; font-family: Georgia,’Times New Roman’,’Bitstream Charter’,Times,serif; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px;”>I know that the compassion I show is never wasted; as I go, I learn to take some of what I hear with a grain of salt. </span>Thinking through the steps helps me process this: ACEs/trauma -> need for coping+not enough social support -> more likely to turn to drugs/alcohol -> sometimes using manipulative behaviors. Does anyone else have insights into this?
I found the Jennifer Baldwin interview really insightful, and it left me wanting more information. Maybe I’ll get her book. I wonder what are examples of things clergy say that re-traumatize? On her website there’s another short video where she describes one category of comments, related to people being fundamentally sinful/bad. This came to mind for me today as I led a small-group Bible study (via conference call) on Psalm 51. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” I can see how that is a problematic verse and theology for those whose life experiences – the things done to them – make them feel sinful or dirty. I think I usually do balance my Ash Wednesday messages with words of grace, but this is a good reminder to be aware of how some people might have a harder time with Ash Wednesday or Lenten themes.
What other things do we/clergy say that could be harmful to people with a history of trauma?