Part 144 3/30/2020 Claire’s Story: Who is Davy?

By P. Berman 

This game lasts so long! I want to get up…wait, what is that? 

Davy was so tired of sitting for the football game. But he didn’t want to leave Mr. Carson alone. Then, he heard it. Dare he look up? Davy looked at Mr. Carson- yes, he was asleep and snoring! Davy very slowly unfolded his legs- he didn’t cry out even though his legs were cramping. He crawled on his hands and knees out of the living room. 

I am almost out! I can run upstairs and play. Oh no! 

Davy could almost taste it, the excitement of being able to go up to his room and play. But then the door bell rang. Alarmed Davy looked into the living room; Mr. Carson had rolled slightly in his chair but was still asleep. Davy had to get to the door before it could ring again and wake Mr. Carson up. He didn’t want to go back to watching the game again. 

Davy crawled fast to the door, jumped up and opened it! 

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It’s so wet. But he’s so cute. 

Davy had a dog’s noise pressed up against his. Davy jumped up and was petting the dog completely forgetting his manners. He didn’t even notice Craig standing there, looking down at him in total surprise. 

Who is this? His hair matches Claire’s. What is this? 

Butch was enjoying the petting from Davy and he began licking Davy’s face. Craig noticed that the little boy seemed to know how to treat a dog. Craig wondered briefly if Claire could be a live-in babysitter or something. He knew this was the right house, he had seen Claire going in there. He was beginning to feel annoyed, left outside and ignored.  

“Hey, kid, is there someone named Claire living here?” Davy looked up from Butch and noticed this tall man staring down at him. Davy remembered his manners. “Hello, I’m Davy,” he reached out his hand to Craig. Bemused, he shook the hand of this little boy. When no further action happened. He said again, “Hey, I am looking for Claire. Is she here?” 

What a silly question. Of course, his mommy was here. But, who was this man and why was he here? 

Davy was very curious, but he knew what he had to do next. “Sorry, I am not allowed to let strangers in. You will have to wait while I get my mommy.” Davy shut the door and ran upstairs. Craig didn’t know what to do. Should he take off? Wait for an explanation? While he was trying to figure this out, Butch had been pulling on his lease. Why had the petting stoppedButch started to bark. Craig tried to quiet him down, but before he could, it had woken Mr. Carson up and now he opened the door. 

Surprised for a moment he just stood there before remembering what was going on. He then placed the guy and the dog. Claire had a date at the park with this guy. “Hello,” he said, “putting his hand out just like Davy had. “I’m Mr. Carson, you must be Craig. Come on in I am sure Claire is ready.”  

Now who was this guy. What rig was Claire running here? 

Craig was feeling uninformed and out-of-control. He had watched Claire go home twice. He had thought he knew what was going on. He hated this feeling of not knowing what might happen next. On the other hand, now this Mr. Carson was patting his dog and asking him, “What’s the big guy’s name?” 

Is Claire’s date going to end before it stops? 

Should she have mentioned Davy to Craig? 

 

 

Part 143 3/27/2020 Claire’s Story: It was the squirrel’s fault

By P. Berman 

What should I tell him? Will he be jealous? Will he get scared? 

Claire had just put away the last grocery as Davy came in from the backyard with Mr. Carson. “Mommy can you play a board game with me? Mr. Carson says he is too tired.” Claire look into Mr. Carson’s face. He did look very tired.  Claire was worried about him; he should sit down and relax.“What did you do to tire our Mr. Carson out?”  

Davy started laughing. “Well, maybe I did run after a squirrel into the forest and maybe I was sitting in the grass watching it eat so Mr. Carson didn’t see me. And,” Davy said apologetically, “maybe, I should have heard my name called but...mommy the squirrel has tiny paws that it uses to eat, and I was so amazed it took me awhile to hear.” 

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My curious Davy. But, he has to learn to be more careful when he is out in the woods. 

Claire could see in her mind just how it happened. She felt pulled between smiling at his joy and anxiety over his recklessness. Sitting down in the tall grass in the woods, and not calling back to Mr. Carson was dangerous– he could get lost – the woods went on for miles.” Mr. Carson saw the emotions play across Claire’s face. He had become very anxious when Davy didn’t immediately respond to his calling out. But he didn’t want Claire to get overly upset. He noticed she still had a hard time calming down once she got anxious. 

 “He did apologize Claire, but I admit, I did get nervous and start rushing back and forth thinking he might have fallen and gotten hurt.” “I never get hurt Mr. Carson, you don’t have to worry about me.” “Davy, Mr. Carson said with a chuckle, “you get hurt all the time because you run so fast, your feet don’t notice rocks in the grass!” 

Why does he look so pale? Could Mr. Carson be coming down with something? 

“Davy, I think we should tuck Mr. Carson in his favorite chair with his sports blanket. I know you don’t like to watch sports on TV but, since you tired Mr. Carson out, you should sit near him and get him his soda and snacks whenever he wants them.” 

Why do big people tire out so fast? He is so old. I can’t make him chase me so much. 

Davy was looking up at Mr. Carson and really paying attention to him for the first time all morning. He did look very tired. They had been playing outside all morning; Mr. Carson had mentioned it was time to go back inside, right before Davy got distracted by the squirrel. Davy felt very selfish. He loved Mr. Carson; he shouldn’t forget how old he was!  

Davy hated watching sports because it meant he had to sit still. His mommy had told him many times that sometimes, you had to do something you weren’t interested in, just because someone you loved cared about it. When Davy looked up at Mr. Carson and saw the fatigue in his face, he was instantly sorry he wasn’t acting interested“I will help you Mr. Carson. You can explain the game to me again and maybe I will like it this time”.  

Mr. Carson took Davy’offered hand but started to chuckle. “I won’t explain things to you Davy, don’t worry.” Claire took his other hand and they walked together into the living room. Davy held Mr. Carson’s blanket while Mr. Carson sat down, flipped the switch and popped his legs up the way that made Davy laugh. 

Claire turned on the TV and was happy to see that Davy was sitting down next to Mr. Carson, holding his hand, and asking questionsClaire sighed. Her Davy was learning a lot about how to care for others.  

How did he learn all this? 

Would you like to learn how to help children learn to be kind and caring? 

You can find a lot of ideas at: 

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/kids-care 

 

Part 142 3/25/2020 Claire’s Story: Craig is coming to pick her up!

By P. Berman 

He is coming today! I have to finish shopping! I need to get ready! But, it’s also laundry day… 

Claire is almost done with shopping for the week. Then, she needs to do the laundry and get ready for her date. If only she had done some loads last night but she had been so tired after playing games with Davy outside. It had been such a beautiful day, and knowing she was going to be gone this afternoon made her feel she needed to put out the extra effort. Her Davy was never going to feel she didn’t have time to spend with him. 

There was such a long line at checkout. She almost snapped at the checkout woman when it was her turn at the register. Then she noticed the button saying, “it’s my first day.” Fortunately, she was able to swallow the criticism that had felt about to burst out of her mouth. She remembered how bad she had felt when a mom had yelled at her on her first day as a hygienist. She took a few deep breaths and smiled at the young woman and said, “first days are hard, aren’t they?” The young woman had just stooped over to pick up a can she had just dropped. “I am sorry, I am so clumsy. I will get someone to replace this.”  

Oh, no, this would take more time. But it was Mr. Carson’s favorite can of baked beans. 

Claire swallowed her impatience, Mrs. Carson was making franks and beans for dinner so she couldn’t leave the store without it. The young woman looked so stressed out. Claire said, “I have noticed that if I slow down, I’m not as clumsy. I think everyone drops things when they are going too fast.” The young woman looked quickly around and then whispered, “the manager told me the last checkout person was fired for going too slow.” 

The manager should not have said that. It was just going to push this woman to make more mistakes before she learned the job. Claire tried her best to be helpful. “I think that the first few days, you have to go slow. Then, you probably will have learned what all the keys stand for, how to check the produce costs, and you get faster. That person who got fired probably had been on the job long enough to have been going faster.”  

It had taken a lot of effort for Claire to speak up. But she was glad she had. It looked like twenty pounds had fallen off that woman’s back. She was standing up straighter and was actually going faster. Claire wondered if fear had been interfering in her doing the job well. It was hard, to always be aware of how she was affecting other people. But seeing that young woman smile at her, and look more self-confident, was a type of reward.  

It seemed like everything today was going so slow today but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Maybe, she would have missed important moments with other people today if she had kept rushing.  

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The parking lot was jammed with cars as Claire packed the trunk of the Carson’s car. When she got in, she realized that she was forty-minutes behind schedule. She wouldn’t get home on time to do the laundry before Craig showed up.  

Don’t freak out. It’s okay. You can handle it. 

Claire practiced saying calming things to herself, like Dr. Berman had taught her. In a few second, her anxiety had been stopped in its tracks. Her brain was working again. She realized that when she got back from the park at 5, she could collect all the laundry before dinner. She could make a game out of doing the laundry after dinner. She could let Davy “help,” it would take more time, but it would be their evening play time. Whenever Davy stretched to put clothes in the washer or leaned in to get clothes out of the dryer, Claire could tickle him.  

From being anxious, Claire was now feeling great. Slowing down and being more aware/mindful of what she had been doing led her to engage in helping someone else. She had remembered the pain of being yelled at her first day of work, when she was doing her best. She had used the memory of this pain to get herself to reach out and help someone else. Now, thinking about that day, and that mother, was going to make her smile not cringe. 

It isn’t easy to notice what is going on around you, when you have so much to do.  

Consider taking a moment today and notice if there is anything you could say or do to help someone else. 

If you do it, notice how it influences the rest of your day. Or maybe, even events much later, like whenever Claire was triggered to remember her first day at work. 

Part 141 3/23/2020 Claire’s Story: Craig went cold

by P. Berman 

I was a high performer this week. Why do I feel so sick? 

Craig’s dad was very angry. He had heard about Craig’s performance at a meeting last week and had allowed himself a brief smile. He had called Craig up at the office to congratulate him but then he had gotten no answer; something was clearly wrong and needed to be straightened out. His son was not going to screw up yet another opportunity to show his superiority. 

He felt a surge of anger when after calling his son’s home number, he heard his son say hello. “What are you doing at home on a Saturday! Three other men performed as well as you last week. How are you going to get ahead of them being this lazy! 

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Craig knew there was no point defending himself; no point saying all of them were going together to the ballgame There was also no point mentioning how lonely he was and wanting to fit in with these other hard-working young men; it would just lead to a further stream of abusive comments. Craig couldn’t remember his dad having friends. His dad did play golf, and he did go to baseball games, and concerts but always with big clients, to solidify contracts, never to relax with them. 

I feel so cold. Why am I sweating like this? 

Craig just listened to his dad’s harsh words. His dad seemed to have an excellent memory for every time he had messed up some great opportunity by being lazy and not putting out the necessary effort. He felt so cold and clammy. Butch put his nose in his lap. He looked down and began to stroke his dog’s back. Butch began to lick his hands. Craig smiled, and rubbed Butch behind his ears. Craig’s dad was still yelling but now Craig was just tuning him out, focused completely on Butch. He heard a click. His dad was finally done. 

I am feeling great now. What is it about this dog? 

Craig looked down at Butch with a big smile. He didn’t feel clammy anymore. He had time to take him for a quick walk before he got ready for the game or….went to the office.  

Craig is doing very well at work. Why should he hesitate to go out to a ballgame? 

He is lonely and this game is an opportunity to make some male friends. 

According to the Health Resources and Service Administration, “Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated.” Craig doesn’t need someone to just play golf with. He needs to feel emotionally connected to others. To read more about the problems of loneliness go to: 

https://www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2019/january-17/loneliness-epidemic 

Part 140 3/16/2020 Claire’s Story: Can phone calls be abusive?

by P. Berman 

I will introduce Claire to Butch. If she brings up the name Max, I will just act surprised. 

Craig was feeling satisfied with himself. While he was cold and stiff, from his time sitting out on his front steps, he finally had a plan he felt good about. He would be a strong man and take immediate control of the conversation before any thought of the name Max could be brought up. After kneeling down and helping Butch hold out his paw for a hand shake, he would laugh and ask Claire what she thought of his Butch. The dog loved him and was bound to lick his face with all this attention- that would show Claire what a great guy he was. 

Claire was shy, even if she remembered the name Max, she probably wouldn’t bring it up. If she did, after a moment of surprise he would say that was the name of his first dog, that had died last year. Claire would hear a catch in his voice and any concerns she had about him would fade. Women liked men who hurt when their pets died. 

Craig stood up with a smile and climbed to his front door. Once inside, he popped his frozen dinner in the microwave and pulled out a beer. It was at that moment, the phone range.  

I am tired. I don’t want to answer it. But, what if it’s Nick about their trip to the ball game next week? selective-focus-of-baseball-pitcher-in-20-jersey-about-to-163487

Several men from the bank were going to a ball game and sitting in the Bank’s private box. They had earned the treat from being the highest performers in the last week. Craig jumped to answer the phone, his heart beating a little faster in anticipation of a great call. It wasn’t Nick. The first syllable Craig heard, sent his stomach sour- his dad was calling. 

Craig’s hand went to his stomach, he sat down, and began to sweat. 

Can Craig feel sick just from the sound of someone’s voice? 

Craig may be experiencing classical conditioning. That is when two things happen at the same time over and over, like being yelled at by the same personBeing yelled at, particularly by someone with power over you, may naturally trigger the release of stomach acid. If you get yelled at over and over by this person, just the sound of that person’s voice, even when not yelling, could trigger the acid release and make your stomach feel sick. 

To see a family example, that is more silly than scary go to this YouTube video: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB7AIrt06ck 

 

Part 139 3/13/2020 Claire’s Story: Are Craig and Claire really alike?

by P. Berman

 

I wish I could be more like my dad. If I was only as smart as he is, I wouldn’t make stupid mistakes! 

Craig was caught in a daydream filled with an image of himself as inferior to his dad because he gave Claire the wrong name for his current dog. He was relentlessly cutting himself down; just as Claire, with her very different family background, often cut herself down. They were intolerant of making mistakes. Yet all human’s make mistakes- even Craig’s dad. 

Claire came from a rural poor family. Craig came from a wealthy urban family. Yet, emotional abuse, in the form of relentless criticism from their parents was a childhood experience they shared in common. Young Craig was his dad’s pride in joy, unless he made a mistake.

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Even a four-year-old Craig had received a verbal beating for making mistakes at preschool. Craig was lost in youthful memoryHe was hiding in the backyard, underneath his swing set. Craig had felt forced to hide so his dad couldn’t see he was crying, and his dad couldn’t see him. Craig had been playing ball with the neighbor. Craig really admired this big kid- he was six years old yet still was willing to play with him!  This boy had received a ball and bat for his birthday and was trying to teach Craig how to play baseball.  

Craig took a wild swing at the ball coming straight at him. It started out as a wonderful miracle- his bat made contact with the ball. But then it happened, the ball hit his dad’s car, sitting in the driveway-it made a big dent.  Deeply worried, Craig had told his dad, the moment he came home, about the accident. For his honesty he was given a harsh spanking and told he was never allowed to play with the neighbor boy again; he was an older boy who should never have let a twit like his son put his hands around a baseball bat. 

Craig sighed as he sat on the step. He never lacked for any physical thing he had he needed growing up. But he was routinely forbidden from spending time with anyone he made friends with- something was always wrong with them. Craig had grown up lonely. His parents were well educated but didn’t seem to know what to do with a child or how to have enough time to be involved parents. 

Craig’s parents had both gone to college. Claire’s parents hadn’t made it through high school. Thus, in some ways, Claire’s parents had more excuses for being ignorant of normal child development that CraigsHowever, most people learn how to be a parent, from what they learned growing up in their families. Both his parents had learned a major lesson growing up- if it didn’t bring in money, it wasn’t that important. 

Craig’s dad was now the regional manager of a large bank. He had raised Craig to have all the skills necessary to be successful in the world of banking. He had also taught him that to real men, were always in control of what was going on. Craig had learned his dad’s lessons well. At work, he was on the fast track, always impressing his bank manager with his knowledge of finance. With the women he dated, Craig always took control; but he was still lonely. 

Do you think Craig will abuse Claire? 

What other signs might you look for? 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides the following signs that a partner might be abusive including: 

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right 
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away 
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members 
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs 
  • Controls every penny spent in the household 
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses 
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you 
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do 
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions 
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children 
  • Prevents you from working or attending school 
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets 
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons 
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with 
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol” 

Has Craig used any of these tactics on Claire? 

To read more go to:https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/ 

 

 

 

 

Part 138 3/11/2020 Claire’s Story: Can Craig admit his mistake?

By P. Berman  

What is wrong with me? I know better than this. I have to fix this. 

Craig was sitting outside his apartment. He was cutting himself down. He had realized, few minutes after Claire got off the bus, that he had changed the name of his dog. What was wrong with him? How could he have made such a stupid mistake? He sat very still and captured a memory of his dad sitting at his desk at home. Whether at home or at the bank, his dad was always busy at work. The only difference being that at home, he would take off his tie.

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Craig’s dad had been tough on him. Criticizing his every mistake, quick to punish any sign of laziness. But he always told Craig the reason for his toughness, successful men owned the world. Unsuccessful men were at the beck and call of everyone, even women. Craig had done everything he could to please his dad. There were times, while not exactly smiling, Craig could tell his dad was proud of him.  

have to figure this out alone. No one can know what I’ve done. 

His dad would lose all respect for Craig, if he learned about this stupid error. His father never messed up the chase like this. No, if there was anything his dad was better at then banking, it was building new relationships with women 

I want to be with Claire. We have a date. What do I do about the dog? 

Craig had shown Claire a picture of his dog Butch last week. Today, she had asked about the dog and he had shown her another picture. That was when his brain when soft and he called the dog Max. What a fool he was. He had owned Butch for almost a year now. His dog Max had been killed last year after being hit by a truck.  

What if I just tell her? Is it that big a deal?  

Admit a mistake? What could he be thinking!  He could almost hear his father roar at the thought. No real man made a mistake, and if he did, he covered it up- no one ever knew about it. Claire would lose all respect for him if she found out– what a laughingstock a man who couldn’t remember the name of his own dog 

Okay, I won’t admit to a mistake. Can I risk assuming she didn’t notice the name flip flop? 

The plan was to take Butch walking in the park.  He would have to call the dog Butch; the dog was too smart to come if he was called Max.  

Is it bad to make mistakes?  

Is it only bad if you get caught? 

Is it only bad if you’re a man? 

Psychologist Jason Moser has studied mistakes and finds they make our brains grow. From this work, in helps our brains get smarter when we make mistakes. Do you think Craig would ever believe that? 

To read more go to: https://www.youcubed.org/evidence/mistakes-grow-brain/ 

 

Part 137 3/9/2020 Claire’s Story: Craig is on the bus.

By P. Berman

There he is. Where has he been?  

Claire had a good day at work. One child after another sat in her chair, laughed at her jokes and hugged her on the way out. She felt so good that she was looking up at the clouds as the bus pulled in. She walked up the steps and smiled at the driver as she put her money in. What a perfect day. Then, she saw him. Craig was sitting in her usual row and smiling up at her as she walked his way. Her heart skipped a beat as she smiled back. She knew she should be cautious but, his smile just made her perfect day feel even more wonderful. “Hello,” she said shyly, as she sat down next to him.   

She is so beautiful. I can’t scare her again.  

Skipping the bus had been the right choice- her look of fear was gone and that open look in her eyes was back. There was something about Claire that drew him in. She looked so fragile somehow, so perfect. He had wondered what she would do if he picked her row to sit in. How perfect it was that she had sat down next to him – things were going as planned.    

“I have missed you Claire. Have you missed me?” Claire nodded without meaning too. His smile got bigger. It was time to take another chance. “Would you like to go out with me this weekend?” he asked softly. Claire looked away as she blushed, looking back she said, “I would like that.”   

Wow. That was easy. Now what?  

Craig had thought she would be more standoffish. He didn’t have any plan for a date in mind. He could handle it. “How about we do something on Saturday?” Claire nodded. “What would you like to do Claire?” Her heart skipped a beat. What was it about the way he was saying her name? It made it sound so beautiful. Claire’s heart skipped a beat. Larry never gave her a choice of what they did. This was a good sign. If he really meant it, he shouldn’t get mad if she suggested something  

I am so glad I talked to Mrs. Carson. I actually know what to say. 

“I would love to meet your dog. Could we walk with him in Kendrick park?” That was the park she always took Davy to. Lots of children went there. It would be easy to see Craig’s reaction to them. 

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Craig had this weird expression on his face. He seemed to be startled by her suggestion. But then, he started to laugh.   

What does this mean. I guess it’s a good thing. He didn’t look or sound mad.  

Claire waited a minute before asking him if he disliked her idea. He took her hand, her heart started beating so fast. “I guess I don’t have to worry about you taking advantage of me because I work at a bank,” Craig said with a smile. “I gave you free choice and you picked a free walk in the park.” Claire looked down. She didn’t know what to say.  

I have spooked her again. Where is my brain?  

“Claire, would you like see my newest picture of my dog Max? Claire laughed as she said, “Yes, of course, I can’t wait to meet him.”  Claire looked at the picture of the dog and smiled at him, “I will be meeting you Saturday!” Claire looked out the window and saw her stop. “I have to go.” “We can plan Saturday on the bus tomorrow….if you will be on my bus Claire.” She smiled and said, “I have to run, see you tomorrow.”  

Claire got off the bus and just stood there at the stop. Craig noticed it and nodded in satisfaction. She was thinking about him. The plan was on. He would have to give tomorrow some serious thought.  

Something is bothering me. What is it?  

Claire was feeling uneasy. She couldn’t put her finger on it until she started walking home. Then all of a sudden, she remembered him showing her his dog the first time. He had called him Butch. Now, he was calling him Max.  

Mrs. Carson had told Claire to follow her instincts. Her gut told her something was very wrong.  

Do you agree?   

What explanations might you have for Craig changing the name of his dog?  

Do any of them scare you?  

Are you just feeling mad? 

 

 

Part 136 2/21/2020 Claire’s Story: The Vets are helping Larry’s memory return.

By P. Berman

Please let them pass me by again. Don’t let me have to talk.  

Larry had been silent for the last hour. One by one the men in group had talked about their night sweats, their screams, their pacing around their property; something, from everyone but him. 

What could he say? He didn’t remember anything.….   

I can’t tell them about the voice. What if the blood on those hands wasn’t mine? What if the scratching means I’m crazy?  

These were the thoughts occupying Larry as he tried to listen to the other men. But, he couldn’t. Not for long anyway. It was too terrifying.  He was scratching himself till he bled. He couldn’t say that?  Could he?  

Ted had just finished sharing a flashback from combat when killing combatants had also killed a small infant and her mother. Ted was crying. He was trying to talk about his own daughter and how much he loved her; how the mother he killed must have loved this infant just as deeply. The other men were nodding in acknowledgment; they shared Ted’s pain.  

At another time, Larry would have tried to do or say something to comfort Ted: he cared about Ted and had met his daughter. But, now, the men’s stories were triggering Larry’s memories and these memories gripped his attention. The first memory that came back to him was of a small scared child. The memory only contained a face- nothing else.  

Who was it?  Did I scare this child? Am I this child?  

The child’s face Larry was seeing was his own son, Davy. His worries that he had scared the child were reality-based; he had caused this terrified expression on Davy’s face. But Larry didn’t remember any of it. Did that make it less his fault? 

Davy crying

What is the role of your memory in the type of person you are?   

Is Larry a different person now because he lost his memory? Is it because he is living with the monks and having different experiences?  

The monks have been teaching Larry a lot about self-control; things Larry never got help from his parents in learning. His father lost control of his anger and beat Larry till he bled. Larry then beat his siblings, if they weren’t doing their chores. If Larry had learned self-control from his parents, his life might never have started down a violent road.  

The National Plan to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan supports putting a psychologist in every school to help educate students about how to develop positive relationships with others, healthy emotionally regulation, good problem solving skills (Recommendation 9). To learn more about this plan to end violence go to: 

www.npeiv.org and then click on the link for the National Plan 

 

 

Part 135 2/19/2020 Claire’s Story: The Abbot’s tomato is smashed

I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I cannot let myself sleep! 

Larry kept exercising on the cold floor to keep himself awake. It had been three days since he’d used his prayer beads. He could not let himself fall asleep. He didn’t want another dream- he might find out that he’d been hurting someone. Hurting someone so badly that his hands were covered in blood. The morning finally came. 

After breakfast, he rushed through washing the dishes and ran until he was in the garden. The only place where he could find peace.  Larry was about to discover there was no peace to be found today. He was handling each tomato plant gently- trying to find the daily, perfect tomato he had been leaving outside the Abbot’s door each day. It was the end of the season; he couldn’t find any tomatoes at all that hadn’t been blown to the ground and destroyed in last night’s rainstorm. 

I found one! It’s perfect!! 

Larry knew he was tired, so he was being extra gentle as he pulled the tomato from its stalk. He smiled down at it, grateful that he had one last gift for the Abbot. He put the tomato into his pocket so that he couldn’t drop it as he did the rest of his work.  

The monks were humble and turned any gifts they received into the Abbot to give to the poor. But, Larry’s small gifts of food were accepted for what they were, gestures of brotherhood. Larry was so tired yesterday, that he had left a tool on the ground rather than putting it back in his satchel. Now, as he worked his way down the row, it happened. 

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Larry tripped over the trowel and slammed hard into the ground – crushing the tomato. It hurt to land on the hard ground. Yet, Larry was instantly asleep. He was back in the dark room with the one flashbulb. He was hearing a belt whipping down through the air. He felt scorching pain on his back. He heard the sound again but before it hit, he had already started screaming. 

“Wake up brother, it’s me, Ted. Wake up brother.” Larry’s eyes opened and he saw the kind blue eyes of Ted looking down at him in concern. Larry was still feeling too stunned to say anything. However, when Ted reached his hand down, Larry accepted his help to stand up. Larry felt a trickle of blood on his forehead from where it had hit the floor. 

“Thanks, I’m sorry to have disturbed you.” Ted waited for Larry to wipe the blood off his face. When he didn’t, Ted handed him a tissue. Larry looked down at it dazed. “Larry, did you hurt your head?” Larry realized his head was hurting. He took the tissue and wiped the dripping blood. His head didn’t hurt anywhere as bad as his back had during the beating. Could Ted see blood dripping down his back? No, Ted was just staring into his face. 

Of course, Ted can’t see the marks on my back. There aren’t any marks. It was just a dream.  

Larry was trying hard not to stare at his body looking for signs of the beating he felt he’d experienced. He didn’t want Ted to think he was acting crazy. The dream had felt so real, it hurt so bad. He could remember the sensation of warm blood running down his back. It was his blood. This time he was sure it was his blood.  

It was his blood. What a relief! 

Ted was watching the emotions change across Larry’s face, from pain, to confused, to cagy. He was sure now that Larry was experiencing some type of posttraumatic reaction. The look on Larry’s face just looked so familiar to him from the self- help group he was in with other veterans experiencing war trauma. He wanted to bring Larry to the group. He knew he had scared Larry off before. He didn’t want to be too pressured this time. He was searching for the right thing to say. 

“Larry, that look on your face right now is so familiar to me. I see that look on so many guys faces in this self-help group I go to on Wednesday night. Would you go with me tomorrow?” Larry didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to go but he didn’t want to act suspiciously. It would be worse to be thought crazy then to get bored at some group. Ted looked worried. Ted went to the group….. 

I don’t know what to say to Ted. Should I go? 

Ted attends a group run by the Veterans Administration for men who’ve been deployed and developed posttraumatic stress disorder. Larry is not a veteran, but he doesn’t know this. He has experienced a childhood and adolescent full of traumatic experiences. As an adult, he caused traumatic experiences for Claire and Davy.  

But he doesn’t remember any of this.  

Is it a good or bad idea for him to go with Ted?