The boys 4 and 2 were in the back seat, I was passenger. My friends son’s oldest was a little wound up, acting his age. His brother started to cry and suspect was the older sibiling holding a pencil. Mom addressed the situation as best she could driving. I was keeping an eye on the action. The pencil was tossed down and the little guy started talking about “goodbye roughhousing, welcome gentleness”. At the same time he was motioning cupped hands out the window, and bringing his hands back to his face.
It was a sweet, sweet moment.
I have found myself so open and appreciative of children. When I offered to hold a strangers baby, so he could fasten her seat, he politely declined. I simply explain my empty nest.
The way my little friend tossed away his roughhousing reminded me of how stories told in Circle help us release trauma.
You never know what lies beneath the surface of a person’s life. A simple question “what is an an experience that impacted you during middle school” was asked during my recent training in the Washington DC area.
Circles are safe, they are set up with values at the beginning. As people share they sometimes are unaware themselves what lies beneath the surface. When someone starts to cry, it shifts the energy in the room. Our brains and hearts are engaged. Crying is healing, and I believe that releasing trauma and telling stories is an avenue for that healing.
One person shared that in 8th grade, September 11th happened. She started to choke up as she related being afraid of the sky. I could feel our entire Circle was processing these moments. September 11 is a collective tragedy, as a community, nation and world we experienced this event. Hearing her story made it very personal and very real. It occured to me how much differently this was for the people in the Circle, than for me, a midwesterner. Janine Geske uses this as an example of how we are impacted by crime as community members. I felt it so much deeper after this story.
We had another wonderful story, that was a lesson for us all.
When Eddie was in the 7th grade, he found his teacher “cute”, he always said “Good Morning Ms. Harris”. Eddie shared she wasn’t the nice type. She would respond with “we’ll see if it’s gonna be a ‘good’ day”. Eddie would be there the next day, “Good Morning, Ms. Harris” and she would respond “I don’t see anything ‘good’ about it”. We all chuckled as the story was told with inflection. Then Eddie shared, years later when he was a teacher, he saw Ms. Harris in a grocery store. He said it with a smile that she looked “exactly the same”. He approached her, “are you Ms. Harris, you were my 7th grade teacher”. Eddie told us she said: “I remember you Eddie Davis, you said good morning every day. I’ve always wanted to apologize to you, because I wasn’t very nice then, I was going through a really tough time in my life”.
It seemed the whole circle smile through the heart and sighed.
Our strong container allowed Ms. Harris to release a bit of trauma. It might have taken 30 years, but we all learned the power of an apology. And Eddie, he learned not to let his mood impact how he relates to students. Thank goodness for our lessons from 7th grade.