Saturday, January 16, 2010

Post 19: Residual Effects

When I think of Haiti, I don't think of pristine beautiful beaches...

But, I think instead of the abject poverty...

And now, I think of the Hait.ian catastrophe, the earthquake.
This morning I spent some time reading history: the history of earthquakes, the history of Haiti and such. I make sure to sit and read about all the areas involved when something so catostrophic occurs. I learned much this morning about plate tectonics, revolutions and the like.

It's still tough to understand that in roughly 45 seconds a country's capital was virtually destroyed.

That blows my mind. The plates in the earth crust shifted, and caused all the damage we're now seeing in the news. So many people dead. Just messes my head up.

And so many children orphaned. Hard sigh.

I think of something else that I think of every single time I see tragedy unfold.

Residual effects.

In the context of the following:

Not only is the tragedy immediately devastating, but the long term residual effects of it are devastating, even much so.

I probably didn't word that right. But you get my meaning.

There was an earthquake. 45 seconds. Followed by aftershocks. I suppose if you total all of that timewise, it doesn't amount to much time, maybe as little as a few minutes.

But the residual effects... the "residue" left behind, will take more than a few minutes to correct.

For one, there's the cleanup effort. The Presiden.tial Pal.ace fell to the ground. I imagine that was the best constructed building in the country. Many government and business buildings were destroyed in the earthquake. All of that has to rebuilt.

Then there are the shantytowns and villages. Those poor areas - how will they even clean all that destruction up, let alone rebuild them? Will anyone even care about people so poor to consider such?

Moreso than the physical devastation, I think of the mental devastation.

The residual effects that this whole catastrophe has on the mind and the spirit.

The residue, the stain, of those events left on the hearts of the people.

Residual effects are like tentacles: they spread wide, they grab hold. It takes much to get loose from them.
Sometimes they don't let go.

I am sure the people who lost loved ones in the World trade Center terroism tragedy some 8 years ago are still dealing with memory in different ways.

And let's not even talk about what happened in New Orleans with the hurricane.

These were two of the biggest tragedies in my lifetime, and even though I wasn't part of them, I have friends who were. I am sure that not a day goes by that they don't deal with the mental and emotional strain of loss of loved ones, property, their hopes and their dreams...

The residue of such must be rubbed off the heart... and one must rebuild.


And I don't think it is all that easy... seemingly impossible.

Looking back over my near 40 years of life, I think of many of the personal tragedies, trials, failures, and disappointments I have experienced. And in looking, I understand that I've never fully come to personal terms with any of them.

A person asked me yesterday how long I had been divorced. I had to think for a second, but responded that it has been a little over 6 years. I chuckled to myself. 6 long years ago. But I still deal with the mental and emotional effects of the thing. It took a couple of years to forgive myself for it. And getting married again? I don't know, I could take it or leave it. I don't have fairy-tale dreams of such. I think of the hard work involved, and I'm not sure I have the maturity to handle it.

I am affected much by all I went though to get my educational degrees... a Bachelors, Masters, and a Doctorate in an area of science that I love. But I had to do all that despite my race and my gender. I will forever deal the residual effects I have because of the treatment I received because I wasn't the correct race or gender. I know it still affects how I deal with life professionally... I understand when and why I don't get the same opportunities that my fellow white or asian male counterparts enjoy. I don't like it, but it is what it is.

I suppose worst of all, I have residual effects rising from my relationship with my mother. It is nonexistant, and I must admit it bothers me. But I'm always looking for the root of where things started, where things went wrong, and I have to admit that in this stiuation, it was when as a 6 year-old, I saw her boyfriend stab her 100 times. My innocence was lost, and at the same time, when it was all over, and we both survived, she never talked to me about it. Life went on as usual. Trust was lost then. I remember laying in bed as a 7 year-old at night thinking about how I really need to be better about looking after myself, because she may not really care. I never looked at her the same way again.

I didn't understand that until a couple of years ago, over 30 years later, while reading it from a journal in my journalling group. It has helped me deal with the pain of it all, all these years later... somehow.

It is the reason that I am so elated when my friends, who have children that are still in their young formative years as I was then, praise their children and think so highly of their children. It is the reason why I shed tears when a child talks of how proud they are of their Mother, how glad they are that their mother is their mother.

All I've ever felt are the "residue" of events in my past. The residue of feeling unimportant, unloved. It has taken time to get rid of such residue. I almost feel like I've spent years rubbing away at that stain, and watching it disappear.

That's the work that must be done. Actively, aggressively, consistently... with faith.

Faith in a better than Windex and 409 combined.

I myself have never experienced the tragedies of terrorism or natural events such as 911 or Katrina.

And I have never experienced what the people of Ha.iti are experiencing right now.

But it is my hope and prayer that all will be well with their lives and their hearts.

And it will take time, maybe even a whole lifetime.

But I hope and pray that they will rebuild and renew and find a way to go forward...

And I pray that they find the things we all hope and long for: peace in our heart, minds, and spirits.


  1. Well said...Thanks for sharing from the depths of your heart.

  2. The Green Eyed Bandit1:40:00 AM

    I love how you are able to draw a connection between big natural catastrophes and personal ones. I do not think many people look at the residue effect on events in our lives. I know I am examining closer now.

  3. I spend a lot (probably too much) of my time examining the "residual" effects of things that I've experienced in my life. I know that the scars that were left are reminders of what has happened and of what should never happen again.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. I feel for the people of Haiti. It's like they can't catch a break. I wonder about the residual effect it would have on them too. There's no way you can go through something like that and come out good. I hope they get the help they need. Not only with rebuilding but dealing with their mental state.

    Good post Lee!


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