Opinion & Columnists Guest Column: It Matters | Kathryn H. Ross: Let’s Talk About Trauma By KATHRYN H. ROSS Published on Friday, January 29, 2021 | 3:30 am 46 recommended0 commentsShareShareTweetSharePin it Kathryn H. RossAt the Inauguration on January 20th, I watched along with the rest of the country as youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman recited her stirring poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Between being utterly gobsmacked with admiration for this young woman and mounting feelings of this momentous day, something Gorman said stuck out to me more than anything else: she simply said she was, “descended from slaves.”It was a quick moment in the fullness of her poem. It was a truthful statement—a simple fact. But it was also me. And my family. My black friends and teachers. Coworkers. Colleagues. Every Black American I know—we are all descended from slaves. The horror of slavery is in our collective past and, as such, in our DNA in some way. We carry what our ancestors went through, as all humans do. But some human lines carry more trauma than others.What I mean is this: being a person of color in America, of any color, means you have a background of profound trauma. Now hear me: this is not to say that White Americans do not have trauma. I have dear friends whose grandparents lived in Europe during the Holocaust, who were directly touched and changed by its horrors, who carry the trauma of the World Wars and mass genocide in their DNA. The difference is that the trauma of POC in America comes directly at the hands of America, and as Americans ourselves, it’s hard to face that we essentially grew up in an abusive household. With that said, many of us have more experience with deep-rooted trauma than others whether we know it or not. But this past year has acted as an equalizer in some ways, tossing us all into the deep end at once.Yes, the world saw Covid-19 descend like a trap and the death and disease that’s spread from it is not just an American trauma. But right here in America, we’ve had the pandemic and we’ve watched it disproportionately ravage black and brown people. On top of that, we’ve battled with profound racial unrest. We’ve watched murder and police brutality erupt across our states like a rampant rash. We’ve seen protests and riots and the glaringly different responses to each depending on the color of those doing the protesting or rioting. We’ve had the most tense and, for lack of a more eloquent word, bonkers election any of us have seen in our lifetimes. And the cherry on top of it all? Our Capitol was attacked by our own after months (years, really) of conspiracies, lies, and hate.I say this objectively.These people are born from and of America, and they turned on it in the name of some sick, twisted “justice” that called for a noose and the cross of Christ to be erected in the same hallowed space. It was disgusting. Lives were lost. It was the crescendo of what has felt like an extremely long and heavy-handed episode of The Twilight Zone. But I’m not here to talk about the insurrection. I’m here to talk about Trauma.About a year ago, I wrote a column where I broke down trauma as my therapist explained it to me: “trauma is the response to learning something you thought was true doesn’t match reality.” With this definition in hand, trauma expands far beyond what we normally associate it with: war, death, assault, abuse. Or maybe it’s more apt to say that the definitions of war, death, assault, and abuse are expanded to encompass the moments in life that are objectively less dangerous, but just as emotionally dramatic and harmful: a sudden and messy breakup with a dear friend, estrangement from a family member, the awakening of the double consciousness, loss of an opportunity you hoped for, loss of direction, loss of faith. However you see these events, they serve the same purpose: you learn something about your world you thought was true actually doesn’t match reality.What’s so troubling about this past year is that we’ve had several big “T” traumas alongside smaller traumas and the normal trials of everyday life. What some generations experience in (maybe) a lifetime, we’ve experienced in a single year, and there’s no clear end in sight: Mass death. Loss of normalcy, of routine and structure. What’s scariest of all is that we know this year has affected us and continues to, but we may not know the full extent of the trauma that’s been inflicted—not for many years, and maybe not ever.Oftentimes now I find myself wondering: what coping mechanisms are being formed right now? What crutches are we learning to lean on? Are we responding in healthy ways? Are we talking to each other? Are we crying? Are we letting the dust settle when a silent moment comes, or are we too busy hustling and grinding and distracting ourselves? Have we taken a moment to mourn all that we’ve lost and continue to lose, to just sit and let the reality of what’s happened wash over us, or are we collectively saying, “I’ll process this later,” if we even allow ourselves to process it at all?My therapist has often mentioned The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk to me to remind me that however I perceive trauma, i.e. whether I deal with it, understand it, or even know about it, my body is always affected.Our bodies hold trauma and make it part of ourselves, and it eventually comes out. It manifests in our brain chemicals and the aches in our hands, the anxiety rushing through our veins and the palpitations of our hearts. Like the rings of a tree record time, our bodies record trauma, and so much has been recorded in the last ten months.Note: Recorded, not necessarily processed.Processing takes intentionality while recording—well that’s just a natural response that’s going to happen whether we acknowledge it or not.I say all of this because I can only imagine how we’ve been changed, and I often wonder what we’ll be like after this, God willing.Personally? Maybe I won’t be able to watch the news anymore, at least not for more than a few minutes. Maybe I’ll always fear police officers, regard them with trepidation. Maybe I’ll feel the urge to just sit and cry at random moments. Maybe I won’t sleep well, waking up every night at the same hour to stare at the dark ceiling. Maybe I’ll never feel comfortable in public again, worried about everything from germs to whether or not the person I just locked eyes with is a white supremacist. Maybe my future children will grapple with anxiety that was never their own. Maybe the month of March will forever fill me with dread. Maybe I’ll weep with joy each time I hug someone or say a maskless hello.What about you? How do you think your trauma will show itself? Is it showing already? Have you already changed?At the end of each day, all I know for sure is that my body—all of our bodies—has been imbibed with extensive trauma this year and it will need to be dealt with. It will grow with me and change with me. It will alter my life and the lives around me. There’s no stopping the effects and consequences of the history we’re living through, but there is a choice: to process rather than just record—intentionally, healthfully, and relentlessly.We can choose to talk and cry rather than power through. We can make therapy more accessible and actually go. We can pray and commiserate. We can take moments of silence. We can be gentle with ourselves and slow down. We can rest. But will we?This year is still new and we don’t know what’s ahead, but can I invite you to make the choice to care for yourself? Can I invite you to feel and work through your trauma now so that it doesn’t steamroll you later? Some of us already have experience with trauma. Many of us carry the trauma our ancestors never got to process. But now that we know what we’re facing and what it can do, can we do something about it? For ourselves, our children?I hope we can. I hope we will.Mental Health Resources:Psychology TodayRose City CenterSGV CounselingLAistCrisis Text Line Name (required) Mail (required) (not be published) Website Home of the Week: Unique Pasadena Home Located on Madeline Drive, Pasadena More Cool Stuff Your email address will not be published. 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Saudi Aramco was forced to suspend 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day after its Abqaiq oil processing plant and the nearby Khurais oil field came under drone attacks on 14 September Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman’s assurance that oil production in his country has fully recovered sent Brent crude prices back below $60 a barrel Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has assured traders his country’s LPG production will be back to normal by the end of September after drone strikes on two key facilities created uncertainty across the Asian oil market.Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman claimed half the production lost as a result of the attacks had already been recovered in a statement that has provided a sigh of relief for global oil markets, which saw price dips of up to 7% on 17 September.Speaking alongside the 59-year-old prince, Saudi Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser also looked to quell fears over potential supply issues.He said: “These synchronised attacks were timed to create maximum damage to our facilities and operations.“The rapid response and resilience demonstrated in the face of such adversity shows the company’s preparedness to deal with threats aimed at sabotaging Aramco’s supply of energy to the world.”“We have a hard-earned reputation for nearly 100% reliability in terms of meeting our international customers’ requirements and we have defended that.“Not a single shipment to an international customer has been or will be missed or cancelled as a result of these attacks.“We have proven that we are operationally resilient and have confirmed our reputation as the world’s leading supplier.”Drone attacks hamper Asian LPG marketSaudi Aramco was forced to suspend 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day after its Abqaiq oil processing plant and the nearby Khurais oil field came under attack from drones on 14 September.The Houthi group, a Yemen-based terror organisation, claimed responsibility for the attacks, which stared fires at the two facilities but no casualties or injuries.A total of 10 drones were reportedly used to launch attacks on the facilities located in eastern Saudi Arabia.Combined, the two plants account for nearly half of Saudi Aramco’s total output, and reportedly meet more than 5% of global oil supply.