DissStress

For anyone who is still thinking that stress is an attitude, and you just have to get over it, this article discusses the surprisingly extensive research on how traumatic childhood experiences impact lifelong health prognosis. The effects are pretty dramatic and apply to a lot of people. Certain interventions are also dramatic in their effectiveness, yet the findings have not been well-integrated into treatments, much less into prevention. What are health and human service professionals waiting for?
The head of a statue lies on the ground. It has cracked vertically down the center of the face, and one side has slipped downward so that the two sides are skewed.

The truth is, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps will only take you as far as your ankles. For a list of traumas, open the Data and Statistics tab on this page, and click on ACEs Definitions. When you’re done with that, check out ACEs Prevalence, and then ask yourself whether we are really focusing on the right problems in our political lives.

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Dance Me to the End of Love

This is the first record I ever bought with my own money. That was 44 years ago.

44 years. So endless. So fleeting. We don’t know where that time goes, but we know this: After awhile, this week, too, will go there.

A worn LP jacket of the Songs of Leonard Cohen

Take Me Away From All This Death

An empty cicada husk on the palm of a handOver the past few months, my life has been touched by death repeatedly. Cultural icons of my youth are dropping left and right, and I’ve learned a new hesitation to track down old friends and acquaintances. I’ve known elders who commented that everyone they knew was dead or dying, but I hadn’t expected to experience that in middle age. It has suddenly become difficult to ignore the inevitability of my own death, which I had fully expected to go on denying for another two or three decades, at minimum.
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Life After Death

Thanks to my readers who have sent their comfort. It does help.

After the past two weeks of constant intensity, I’m feeling a little numb. I think I reached my limit, and my emotions automatically shut off to give me some rest. I’ve been cleaning the house, catching up on neglected work, donating the leftover medications to the animal shelter.

I can’t really get away from it, of course. The house is too quiet, and wherever I look, there are signs of the life with three cats I used to live. Winter came while I wasn’t looking. The cold lurks in corners, ready to envelop me the moment the heater ticks off.
A sunset over a frozen lake
The surviving cat has never been alone in the house in her entire life. The first time I left her, after… she ran and hid when I came home. She came out when she realized it was me. It was someone coming in the door that had frightened her. The last person who came to the house was the vet who euthanized her sister.

I always wondered how the cat dynamics would change when there were only two, but it never occurred to me I might lose two at the same time.

Mom and daughter will be cremated together. It wouldn’t surprise me if my emotions come back when the ashes are returned to me in a couple of weeks. I’m grounded in the physical realm – cremation has always seemed more final to me than death, as if, as long as the body which was the vehicle of our connection still exists, that connection is not really broken.

In the end, one cat died “naturally,” and I had the other euthanized when every breath became a struggle. Neither of these was a “good” death. Maybe there is no such thing.

Finish Lines

I ran two races at once to win lives that were precious to me. My opponent was Death.

Death had a head start.

Sometimes I ran strong, hopeful and determined. Other times I faltered, exhausted, confused about where to go, feeling I had already lost. Always, whichever race I was running, I felt myself falling behind in the other.

In the end, Death won them both.

An animated calico cat runs across the screen

This Day, This Moment

Old pen & ink drawing of girl reading by the fire with her cat sitting next to herBoth of my cats are still alive, so you can guess what I am thankful for today. Turns out there are a lot of people around who have been traumatized by euthanasia decisions, which does not surprise me at all. It’s the emotional equivalent of asking someone to decide to put their own child to death. In states where euthanasia has been legalized, that only applies to adults, because a child can’t legally consent. And I think we recognize that asking a parent to make that decision would likely haunt them for the rest of their lives, no matter which way they decided.

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