Disaster Rx: Try a Little Tenderness | Next Avenue

There is much more to this blog than is mentioned here (and, you should read the entire posting as it is very well written); however, this is the section that striked me as one of the most reflective as that applies to victims and survivors of domestic violence/sexual assault as well in order to become thrivers, as well as the self-care that even advocates need to do in order to maintain composure and insure that they can continue to show empathy for others.  After all, if you aren’t able to take care of yourself, how CAN you be in position to take care of others?  One of the most important components to the healing journey is learning to keep your wellness in check to facilitate that progression for healing and setting the traumatic event behind you — in so much as possible to do so.  

I imagine, my call to action — besides, the obvious to be a delegate in NYC at the United Nations’ Commission on Status of Women and Children regarding global issues surrounding violence against women and children — may also include some community service to help facilitate some healing for the New Yorkers, as the effects of Hurricane Sandy may not completely disappear by the time I arrive there in March 2013.

One thing that I have learned from being an advocate in the domestic violence arena, healing doesn’t have a specific time-frame; therefore, I’m not anticipating the New Yorkers (even as resilient and strong as they purport to be) will be completely healed emotionally.  It’s okay.  No one has to feel that they have to be with the trauma be behind them completely in “x” amount of time; emotionally healing always takes longer once the physical pieces are put together to give an appearance that it is a time for the green light and moving forward.

All the more reason, I just MUST get to NYC in March!!

From Self-Care to Compassion
Over the next several weeks, I was the recipient of the most extraordinary outpouring of generosity and compassion. My boss, also a friend, told me to “take as much time as I needed, but try to get back in time to close the issue.” He and a dozen other friends bundled up like Weebles, braved the frigid indoor temperatures and tried to get my home back to some semblance of livable order. (The upstairs, anyway. Downstairs remained a mud hut cum hockey rink for the better part of nine months.)
Friends and colleagues donated food, clothes, food and money. Money! Suddenly I was a charity case. I don’t remember for how long, but we went back and forth between the studio my ex kept in the city and my sister’s. I think the cat stayed in Manhattan. I was on the news, twice, which led to the totally bizarre circumstance of people recognizing me on the streets for years.
But the thing that impressed me most, beyond how long it takes to get things fixed or to get reimbursed by insurance, was the kindness of friends and strangers.
Not to dwell on the unpleasant, but the same thing hit home in the aftermath of 9/11, then eight years after that, when my father died. These events shifted my inner landscape, and when I was going through them, I came to realize how indescribably deeply I appreciated things like phone calls and sympathy cards. They didn’t make me safer or bring back what was irretrievably lost, but they had a very strong, positive effect on my mood and optimism. For the record, email, facebook messages and texts don’t have the same effect.
These days we hear a lot about self-care and the need to be self-sufficient, and those are important attributes to develop. Yet so much more important, and healing, is the cultivation of genuine compassion for others. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” And while compassion is essential, we shouldn’t stop there. We need to make the leap to empathy, or “being aware of, sensitive to and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”
But even empathy isn’t enough. We need to take action — even if that means simply picking up the phone. Better, of course, is lending a hand or making a donation. You can’t take on others’ burden of suffering, but letting people know you’re there and that you care is truly a way to share some of the weight.

Disaster Rx: Try a Little Tenderness | Next Avenue.


2 comments on “Disaster Rx: Try a Little Tenderness | Next Avenue

  1. Pingback: J.R. WATKINS FUNDRAISER — Getting me to the United Nations on Time! | United Nations Delegate

  2. Pingback: Message Sent – Update on our Delegate roles at United Nations’ Commission on Status of Women | United Nations Delegate

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