Another Falling Angels poem.
Welcome to the dark, everyone.
When you think about it, all the children in the world are adding at least one Adverse Childhood Experience score and possibly more, because of Covid-19. Some will add more than one: domestic violence is up with stress, addiction is up, behavioral health problems are up, some parents get sick and die, and then some children are starving.
From the CDC Ace website:
“Overview:Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. ACEs can include violence, abuse, and growing
up in a family with mental health or substance use problems. Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect how the body responds to
stress. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. However, ACEs can be prevented.”
Well, can they be prevented? Could Covid-19 be prevented? I question that one.
I have a slightly different viewpoint. I have an ACE Score of 5 and am not dead and don’t have heart disease. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about ACE scores and that it’s framed as kids’ brains are damaged.
I would argue that this is survival wiring. When I have a patient where I suspect a high ACE score, I bring it up, show them the CDC web site and say that I think of it as “crisis wiring” not “damaged”. I say, “You survived your childhood. Good job! The low ACE score people do not understand us and I may be able to help you let go of some of the automatic survival reactions and fit in with the people who had a nice childhood more easily.”
It doesn’t seem useful to me to say “We have to prevent ACE scores.” Um. Tsunamis, hurricanes, Covid-19, wars… it seems to me that the ACE score wiring is adaptive. If your country is at war and you are a kid and your family sets out to sea to escape, well, you need to survive. If that means you are guarded, untrusting, suspicious and wary of everyone, yeah, ok. You need to survive. One of my high ACE Score veterans said that the military loved him because he could go from zero to 60 in one minute. Yeah, me too. I’ve worked on my temper since I was a child. Now it appears that my initial ACE insult was my mother having tuberculosis, so in the womb. Attacked by antibodies, while the tuberculosis bacillus cannot cross the placenta, luckily for me. And luckily for me she coughed blood at 8 months pregnant and then thought she had lung cancer and was going to die at age 22. Hmmm, think of what those hormones did to my wiring.
So if we can’t prevent all ACE Scores, what do we do? We change the focus. We need to understand crisis wiring, support it and help people to let go of the hair trigger that got them through whatever horrid things they grew up with. 16% of Americans have a score of 4 or more BEFORE Covid-19. We now have a 20 or 25 year cohort that will have higher scores. Let’s not label them doomed or damaged. Let’s talk about it and help people to understand.
I read a definition of misery memoirs today. I don’t scorn them. I don’t like the fake ones. I don’t read them, though I did read Angela’s Ashes. What I thought was amazing about Angela’s Ashes is that for me he captures the child attitude of accepting what is happening: when his sibling is dying and they see a dog get killed and he associates the two. And when he writes about moving and how their father would not carry anything, because it was shameful for a man to do that. He takes it all for granted when he is little because that is what he knows. One book that I know of that makes a really difficult childhood quite amazing is Precious Bane, by Mary Webb. Here is a visible disability that marks her negatively and yet she thrives.
A friend met at a conference is working with traumatic brain injury folks. They were starting a study to measure ACE scores and watch them heal, because they were noticing the high ACE score people seem to recover faster. I can see that: I would just say, another miserable thing and how am I going to work through it. Meanwhile a friend tells me on the phone that it’s “not fair” that her son’s senior year of college is spoiled by Covid-19. I think to myself, uh, yes but he’s not in a war zone nor starving nor hit by a tsunami and everyone is affected by this and he’s been vaccinated. I think he is very lucky. What percentage of the world has gotten vaccinated? He isn’t on a ventilator. Right now, that falls under doing well and also lucky in my book. And maybe that is what the high ACE score people have to teach the low ACE score people: really, things could be a lot worse. No, I don’t trust easily and I am no longer feeling sorry about it. I have had a successful career in spite of my ACE score, I ran a clinic in the way that felt ethical to me, I have friends who stick with me even through PANDAS and my children are doing well. And I am not addicted to anything except I’d get a caffeine headache for a day if I had none.
For the people with the good childhood, the traumatic brain injury could be their first terrible experience. They go through the stages of grief. The high ACE score people do too, but we’ve done it before, we are familiar with it, it’s old territory, yeah ok jungle again, get the machete out and move on. As the world gets through Covid-19, with me still thinking that this winter looks pretty dark, maybe we can all learn about ACE scores and support each other and try to be kind, even to the scary looking veteran.
Why are the roses caged, you ask? What did they do? Nothing, they are being protected. I found that rose and transplanted it years ago, but our deer eat the buds every year. This is the first time that it has bloomed in the 21 years I have lived in this hours. Isn’t it beautiful?
I am listening to this:
I wrote this poem today. This is one of the poems where I have no idea where it will go when I start writing it. I start writing about judgement and it never ever goes where I expect. The poems go where I want to go in my deepest heart, in my soul. I am never where the poem is, the poems show me the way….. Then I try to go there. And it can take years….
I am being judged
I have no issue with the Beloved
it’s the humans I don’t like
I twist people’s words
but not with malice
when the antibodies are up
it is hard to communicate
hard to explain
it is hard just to survive
and I might be focused on survival first
and comforting the people around me second
can you blame me?
how near to death have you passed?
and how often?
heart rate 135 when I stood up
my doctor and I could not understand it
my doctor partners thought I was lying
after my sister’s death
which was bad enough
but the legal morass that she had set up
with her daughter as the center
pitting me and her daughter’s birth father
and my father
against all the PhDs in the maternal family
smart, smart, smart
yet emotionally stupid
my niece is not an inheritance
to be passed to whom my sister wants
she reluctantly came home
and the myth endures
that this is an injustice
one year after I find my father dead
triggered by grief
and the outdated will
and the mess he leaves
and I don’t even get sued
about the will
for another year
endure endure endure
I do not care
if you want to believe
what you want to believe
it isn’t true
and it hurt
and I learn to let go
with the fourth pneumonia
I see the liars surrounding me
yes, it does matter
except that one that I trusted
that mentored me
has lied all along
that hurts too
let it go
let it go
let it go
and I let it go
each pneumonia is a time of change
I am lonely and sick
and not trusting
as I improve
I wander garage sales
and find things
things that are beautiful
things that enhance my joy
at the start of covid
I was so down
I was so sad
I wanted to lie in the street
and give up
the Beloved sent a spirit
he says he is no angel
I see angels bright and dark
after all they all fall
just as humans do
we all fall
we all fall down
try to look perfect
try to look virtuous
tell yourself that you are good
that is the biggest lie of all
the bad parts of your spirit
locked in the basement of your soul
howl and want to be freed
and if one gets out
and you reject her or him
he will return with nine friends
yes that is what the bible says
she will return with nine friends
will free the others
and you will do bad things
you will be terrible
you will hurt people
while you try to contain
while you try to lock away
while you try to chain
let them go
let the monsters go
they are howling
I hear them all the time
when I meet you
when I speak to you
the monsters howl at me
begging to be loved
yes, they want to be loved
and I love them
but if I mention them
you get that look
what I hide
I can’t help it
raised in alcohol neglect and lies
on my own
as soon as I can walk
but I can’t walk away
at nine months
so I find other escapes
and my sister
when she is born
I do all the mothering
that I have longed for
even though I am three
we were talking about your monsters
you must go in to the cave
where you have locked them
and free them all
fall on your knees
forgive me forgive me
for I have sinned
bow your head
and hold out your arms
and what, you say,
will the tortured monsters do?
will they smite you?
will they burn you?
will they lock you in their place?
mine were babies
grief, fear, shame
and I embraced them
carried them up to the light
and care for them
wrap them in warm blankets
and love them
until they stop crying
and begin to grow
I am posting this from another site, originally posted November 2016. I am posting it because of a comment on a paper in my town about “homeless drug dealers”. It’s not the drug dealers that are homeless, it’s the addict. Ok, you can definitely have an addict dealer… But I worked hard to treat any kind of addiction, not only because of the patient, but also the family and especially the children. And every patient was a child once….
This is another temperance song that my mother taught me, learned from her father. Both of my mother’s grandfathers were Congregationalist Ministers in Iowa.
Out on the stormy night sadly I roam.
No one to love me, no dear pleasant home.
Dark is the night and the storm rages wild.
God pity Bessie, the drunkard’s own child.
Mother, O why did you leave me alone,
No one to love me, no dear pleasant home.
Dark is the night and the storm rages wild
God pity Bessie, the drunkard’s own child
We was so happy til father drinked rum.
Then all our trials and troubles begun.
Mother grew weary and wept every day.
Brother and I were too hungry to play.
Barefoot and hungry we wander all day
Looking for work, but “too small” they all say
On the damp ground to lay my head
Father’s a drunkard and Mother is dead.
Thus the two wandered, ’til one stormy night
Brother and sister both faded from sight
Then gazing at them, sadly I said
“Father’s a drunkard and Mother is dead.”
Cheerful, right? Again, I know the tune and only have the chorus memorized. My parents quit singing it in front of me so that I wouldn’t sing it at Show and Tell.
And small children shouldn’t hear this sort of thing, right? I don’t know. I learned an awful lot about the dark side of the world and danger from these songs. I found them helpful. I think they influenced me to be careful….
And think of the refugee children and children everywhere. This is still happening.
and here: http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=57166
The tune I learned is slightly different and darker than this: http://email@example.com?SongID=6196
And some overlapping words with a different tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ooDfYaH08E and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KGiFkcxOus
The photograph is my maternal grandfather, F. Temple Burling, sitting on his grandfather’s lap. His grandfather was Morris Temple. My grandfather taught my mother this song and she taught me.
This blog post: hanging from a telephone wire intrigues me.
Why do the liars lie?
I disagree with Ms. Kennedy.
The liars lie for the same reason that addicts lie. They are not lying to you or to me. They are lying to themselves FIRST. They want to believe what they say.
“My marriage is perfect.”
“I love all my children the same.”
“I never make an error.”
“I talk to my mother every Sunday morning because we are so close and love each other so much.”
“I can see right in to your head.”
“I am happy all the time.”
Whew. A totally easy list to come up with and I could go on and on and on…. and so could you. When someone says something like this… I am always (fill in blank) or I never (fill in blank)… stop. Think. They want to believe it. They might like you to believe it too. They might even kind of know that it’s a lie and very convincing one but the best liars have convinced themselves.
I saw it in clinic all the time. Over and over and over.
It’s the glitter that gives it away. When they come in all glittery and sparkly and their eyes shine and they are too beautiful for words and they charm your socks right off…. check your wallet. They are an addict or a manipulator or they WANT SOMETHING FROM YOU. And there are people who just do it automatically. They lie all the time.
Whatever. When someone reminds me of my mother or my sister… or the other extremely well trained enablers on the maternal side of my stupid family…. ooooooo. The person has my full focused attention. Which thing is the lie? What do they want? What are they going to try to get out of me?
When I trained in buprenorphine treatment, the guy (enabler) that I was dating was horrified. “You can’t treat addicts!” he said.
“Why not?” I asked.
I laughed. “ALL patients lie. There are studies. They lie about whether they are taking their blood pressure medicine. They lie about how much salt they are eating. They lie about exercising. The first question I ask if someone’s blood pressure is too high, is “Are you taking the medicine?” More than half the time I get a sheepish, “Yeah, well, no, I ran out of it two weeks ago.” “Yeah, well, then I can’t tell if it’s working or not, can I? And you’ll have to redo the stupid labs once you have taken it for two weeks and come back for another check.” “Ok, ok, I get it.” If you lie to your doctor, well, you might get hurt. Tell them about the pills your friend gave you, tell them about the supplements, and that infected toe? Might help if you tell the truth about it. Even though it was when you um inserted well we were just, like he has an infected um. That is important information and changes which antibiotics I use plus now I want to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea and same sex male so we gotter talk about HIV prophylaxis and this is a 15 minute clinic visit? I am now running late and annoyed. You need another visit in 1-2 days or else I gonna hospitalize yo dumb self.
And WHY do people, and especially people in addiction, lie to themselves?
Damage. ACE scores. Adverse Childhood Experience Scores. They wish that they were that close to their mother. They long for a perfect marriage. They were beaten in secret by the perfect father. The famous man, their grandfather, sexually abused them. The list is endless.
And how do we help? The person I just stopped dating told me that his children said to him “My picker’s broke.” Our pickers are not really broken. We are attracted to the people who can teach us.
In the book Passionate Marriage, the author writes about how we are attracted to the people who have what we lack. What we want to learn. What we are afraid of. What we need to learn. I needed to learn how to really look at anyone I date with my full on intuition right away and also that it is seriously Not Nice of me to get curious, activate my inner scientist and stick around. I recognize the projection on me at some point and then the scientist in me is intrigued. Really? The most recent one said that inside me there is a sweet innocent joyous tiny girl.
Well, I thought. No, not really. There certainly is a baby. But it’s a baby honey badger or a baby Iron Bitch Alien Lizard. Don’t care what you call it. But it is about as sweet as a pissed off porcupine or skunk. Polecat. Octopoggles done got us! Squirting ink and sliding into an impossibly small space and escaping from the acquarium over and over until the captors let me go…..
And that was actually the moment I should have spoken up. Calmly. Kindly. “Um, no. I was never a sweet innocent joyous tiny girl. I was bathed in antibodies to tuberculosis in the womb and no doubt alcohol and my parents were newly married and I came out saying, “What is happening now? Some new torture? Augh! Bright lights! Is there food? I am really really hungry. Feed me or I will eat YOU.” And then I lost my mother for nine months so that I would not catch tuberculosis from her and die. I didn’t really understand it. I thought people kept giving me away and that you couldn’t trust those evil adults.
In the end this is all actually necessary, says the Passionate Marriage author. WHAT? WHAT? Well, in a truly loving relationship, both people will withdraw the projection. The projection is the “falling in love” where the person is golden, perfect, your true love. No, they aren’t. But you love that aspect of them that you want/need/can’t do. True love is when you withdraw the projection and you see the real person and you love them.
It isn’t easy. But people do it. Birds do it, squirrels do it, trees do it, even elementary bees do it… let’s do it… let’s fall in love.
I wrote this poem in 2014. Sometimes you know things without knowing them. Or you know them before you are ready to know them and so…. you forget.
I think you said
And you told them how.
You told them my weaknesses
and my strengths.
You told them that I twisted your words.
You said, “You twist my words.”
K said, “You twist my words.”
S said, “You twist my words.”
Ko said, “You twist my words.”
and on everything2
they, too, twist my words.
When the outer is charming and perfect
the damage is inside.
I wear my spikes on the outside.
No one, to date, has been allowed more then
No one except
and my children
and all children.
Only they are allowed inside.
I am broken.
But I was always broken and knew it.
I hope that no one cut their hands
when they tried to smash me.
Pretty on the outside
deadly on the inside.
Yet I think a spark in you said,
What you didn’t tell them
is that I don’t bother to lie
because no one listens anyhow
no one ever listened
and so I can always tell the truth
until they stop listening.
because they don’t believe me
but you knew
I tell the truth
And I was already broken.
And this should connect to this: https://drkottaway.com/2014/11/
This is one of the Songs to Raise Girls, songs that I learned before Kindergarten. A very weird list of songs.
This song comes from my maternal grandfather. My mother said that it was a Congregationalist temperance song….
The photograph is Morris D. Temple and his grandson, F. Temple Burling. F. Temple Burling is my maternal grandfather. I am related to Temple Pumps. According to my mother’s stories, Morris Temple was more interested in Japanese art than in Temple Pumps and the company eventually folded. I don’t know if that is true, or if it was a different Temple then Morris. However, my middle name is Temple.
This song is one that I don’t have memorized, though I know the tune. I have my mother’s handwritten lyrics, with her drawings framing it. There is a tape of my grandfather singing it in the Library of Congress, according to my mother. I would like to go listen to it some time.
I’ve copied it just how my mother wrote it out. There might be an issue about political correctness, but I have a picture of Morris Temple in the 1860s, in his civil war uniform, with a sword. You will have to wait for that post to see which side he fought for….. I presume that my mother wrote it down as she was taught it. I am not sure who talked like this in Iowa in the 1880s, but maybe it was most people.
The Brewers’ Big Horses
O, the brewer’s big horses, comin’ down de road
A totin’ along old Lucifer’s load
Dey step so high and dey step so free
But them big horses can’t run over me
O no! boys O no!
De turnpike’s free where ever I go
I’m a temperance ingine don’t you see
So them big horses can’t run ovah me
Repeat with “toot toot toots”
O de liquo’ men been actin lak de own de place
A livin’ off de sweat o’ de po’ man’s face
Dey’s fat and sassy as dey can be
But deir big horses can’t run ovah me
I’ll harness dem horses to de temperance cart
I’ll hit ’em with the gad fo’ to give ’em a start
I’ll teach ’em how fo’ to haw an’ gee
So them big horses can’t run ovah me
It took me a while to find this song on the internet. It is listed in temperance songs in wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_songs and is mentioned in The Christian Advocate under lyrics: The Brewers Big Horses. It is listed as written in 1913 by JB Herbert and HS Taylor. Isn’t it interesting that Budweiser still uses the Brewer’s Big Horses in advertising?
Again, this is a song I was learning way before I know what a brewer or a turnpike was. My parents stopped singing a bunch of songs when they realized that I was memorizing all of them. They did not want me singing certain songs in Kindergarten.
They did not need to worry. I shut up when I got to school, because no one wanted to sing and no one knew the songs. They all talked about television and we didn’t have one.
I was very disappointed in school. Not enough singing and it was lonely.
Our clinic had a band back before 2009. Me and 4 of the nurses. We were into heavy metal. This was when I was working for Port Townsend Family Physicians. The county let me go and PTFP changed their name. Could not have been because we wore our band regalia to work, right? After all, it was Halloween.
Maybe they were afraid that the songs would catch on.
Don’t code in the waiting room
Evidence based BM
Probiotics make you psychotic
Better that way
Alcohol is better than benzos
Mr. Sable is Unable
Buprenorphine: better n morphine
EMR means Eat My Rear
The 18 Patient Blues
I played flute and saw. J played fiddle and air siren. The others, well, you should ask them. I think all the tapes got burned by the hospital. Too bad, so sad.
I can’t credit the photographer. I don’t know who took it.