When I was a teenager, I spent a number of years living in New Milford, CT. New Milford is about two towns away from Newtown. I used to listen to the radio station that people in Newtown listen to. One of my best friends went to church in Newtown, so I spent many Sundays there with him and with other friends from the area.
Newtown, CT is a wonderful, quaint, Norman Rockwell kind of New England town, with a village green and the works. Not a place where I would expect this to happen. IS there a place where an atrocity of this nature would be really expected to happen??? So, even as a therapist who has dealt with horrific tragedy over the years in other people’s lives (sometimes to this magnitude and beyond), this one is a bit close to me. When I wrote this post, I was considering a nice, fluffy way to express what could be helpful, etc. However, I’ve been doing therapy regarding the effects of violence for over 23 years, and I am not going to be silent.
What can you do? I can think of a couple of things.
First off, since this was a crime involving the slaughter of children by an obviously mentally ill man, please vote and advocate for enhanced services for behavioral health care, especially services that enhance affordable access to care and services which reduce the stigma associated with seeking care.
The national debate will, predictably, focus on gun rights/control, which will, predictably, go nowhere. It will sell news magazines, however, and galvanize voters who will donate to political causes both pro- and anti-gun. I respectfully don’t care who has what position on that. The truth of the matter is: the man with the gun clearly had mental health issues.
Debating what to do to enhance access and reduce stigma is the real debate that needs to happen. We can tackle the other one about gun rights/control either in the background or afterwards, and we will. You don’t need a gun to massacre scores of children, as we saw in China today. We’ll get to the gun debate, but avoiding the mental health debate behind it just continues the problem.
The second thing involves what you can do with your own children. I could go into detail, but I think Mr. Rogers, a very wise man, covered it well. http://www.fci.org/new-site/par-tragic-events.html.
Please pass this on to anyone you think could benefit from it. Thank you, and know that I am praying for all of us and especially you and the Newtown family as we go through this.
Sorry if this wasn’t a fluffy psychotherapy post about finding your inner child, bliss, or the like. If you work with me, you will be asked to accept your own humanity, just as I accept the anger in mine tonight, and as I will accept your own humanity. All of it.
Please take a moment and pray for the victims, and the ability of each of us and this country to eventually forgive the shooter (because that is the right thing to do, and is a sign of our real humanity).
I’d say more, but please excuse me, I’m busy trying to reach my childhood friends from CT to check on them.
God bless us all.
- Newtown School Shooting: Live Updates – National – The Atlantic Wire (theatlanticwire.com)