Anyone else think we shouldn’t be having as many “winter” days in spring? Do not put your goose-down jackets away yet! Keep that raincoat handy. Some good weather news is that all of the horses are shed out and their instinct knows best. Summer will show up.
One of my favorite quotes (sorry, don’t know where it came from) is: “Behavior is the language of those who feel they have no voice.” This is especially true regarding trauma. Many children and teens we see cannot or will not talk about what happened. Some of those memories are so deeply buried that the kids have no awareness of them, so talking about them isn’t an option. Trauma is stored in the body, not the mind. It is stored in smells or sounds, touches or “trigger” words. They may be buried, but they have not gone away.
Trauma comes from lots of sources: Abuse, of course. But unexpected loss of a loved one ranks right up there. Moving schools or neighborhoods, changes in family dynamics are all contributing factors to trauma. Social pressures in school are so traumatic sometimes, too. Often, there is no way to talk about it, and often it is because of shame. All of the kids we see here at Raven Rock have experienced trauma of one kind or another, in varying degrees of severity. But know this- the worst kind of trauma anyone can have is their own. Whatever anyone has to cope with seems impossible. And thus, you get behaviors that are not consistent with what you may want your child or teen to show. But it is the only way they can communicate about it.
One such young man is a good-hearted pre-teen I will call “Willy”. When he came to RRR, he had been moved into a special school for kids with “extreme behavioral challenges.” Indeed! He had attacked family members, punching and hitting; attacked teachers in the same way and threatened people with a knife. When sent to a talk therapist, he destroyed her desk, destroyed much more in the office until she had to call 911. All from a boy who was not even close to his teen years.
In the special school, they practice Behavioral Modification. That is, “sit down and shut up” so that you do not disturb those around you. When the (very strict) structure is removed, behaviors return because nothing has changed. Nothing has been healed, nothing has released this boy’s stuck trauma. Willy was diagnosed with rage. Yes, I agree with that. But I also know that releasing the trauma will release the rage. Behavior is the language of those who feel they have no voice.
So, what was this kid’s problem? There was not abuse in the home- it was the loss of a loved one to drugs. As a younger boy, he lost his father and felt abandoned, hopeless, fearful, and so much more. He was not capable of talking about it, though his mom gave him ample opportunity to talk. He just couldn’t. But the trauma was very much there. He acted out- it was his only “voice” about the pain.
We get lots of kids who are diagnosed with “rage” who come to RRR. Willy absolutely has a good heart. He is kind and caring to our horses, to me (I’m his facilitator) and the other staff here. I respect him and I am not afraid of him. I guess he feels understood here. I often tell him how much I believe in him and how proud I am of him when he does things that I genuinely can be proud of. He is very near “graduating” from RRR. The last step will be for Willy is to choose to use the tools we have placed in his emotional “tool box.” He is still pretty young and making good choices is a new neural pathway not too traversed, but I DO believe in him. He has a broken, but good heart. Prayers and practice will get him into the right place for his future success. Happily, he is on his way.
SO MANY BLESSINGS!! This spring, we hired a new Facilitator, Jessica Lehman, who has a special touch when working with children! She’s so up-beat and optimistic. We also hired a Facilitator-in-training to work with our kids. I’m overjoyed, as this is our strategy for our LOVE STARTS HERE campaign that we kicked off this year. We need trained, competent Facilitators so that when we accomplish Phase One- collecting $2.5 million to begin our Domestic Violence relief facility, the staff is ready to go. Great exposure at a Hightower Client Appreciation party where we were introduced to folks who are generous and interested in the good work we do. Great exposure at the Seattle Polo Club’s Derby party. Great friendships made with 50 or so Windermere people who came for a GREAT work party. WHEW! RRR has it going on!
- July 16 annual BBQ- live music, great food and ax-throwing! Raven Rock Ranch BBQ Registration
- July 27 Cadman Golf Tournament benefiting Raven Rock
- August 13 Polo Party- Please come and volunteer!
- September 15 Wine Tasting at Chateau Lill Wine Tasting Registration
- November 12 Raven Rock’s 11th Annual Auction, Hope Starts Here
Please join us for all of these “fun-tastic” events and activities. We need people who love to have fun, don’t mind some hard work, like to play golf, know how to party and love what Raven Rock is doing for our community and our kids.
As always, we couldn’t do it without YOU! It’s your dollars and time that are saving lives, healing trauma, and keeping one more kid out of prison. My deepest gratitude to you. I pray you have 100-to-1 return for your generosity!
With Love and Blessings, Sandy