Posts Tagged ‘Sanctuary’


See the source imageHoly Saturday. The day of awaiting. The day of the unknown in Holy Week. When the gospels tell us the men huddled in fear, the women planned how to honour their friend, possible husband, and son through the cultural norms. The day of silence, of unknowing. The day when the Empire and the Oppressors were searching for those who were seen as “co-conspirators” with the messianic rebel Jesus of Nazareth.

The three days in real time, that those who were called friends at a dinner in an upper room, were grieving, experiencing anger, fear, anxiety— trauma of the crucifixion, as the powers to be tried to destroy (and appeared as they had succeeded) in snuffing out hope for being and belonging for all.

In Peter and Mary Magdalene’s mind and hearts I can only imagine the racing, of their love, and calling others into the life had now placed them at risk. Risk of torture, risk of death, and how far would the ripples extend? Would it just be to those that were part of the followers? Those that celebrated on Palm Sunday at the Triumphal Entry? Or would all connected to them made to be an example for the Empire on why you did not think outside the box? Or challenge the norms? Would all be lost simply by a choice they had made to be different? To be heroic in their own time?

These are themes that echo as I read the follow up companion to the Heroes in Crisis mini-series that touched my journey during my own struggles with PTSD. For those who may not know, Heroes in Crisis was a 9 part series about what happens when super heroes need help, the journey of Sanctuary, PTSD, and psychotic break, followed by murder mystery in the realm of healing for those that have answered the call to be heroes. It is now available as a trade paper back and I encourage you to read it.

The second volume, touches on the ripple effects out of that series, much like Holy Saturday. It is the follow up to the deaths. The follow up to the impact on the heroes left behind. Sound familiar in our own world? As we struggle in a pandemic? Watching those who continue to serve, and knowing the dangers, those that will fall ill and may not recover. Just like the journey of mental illness and health, physical health is the same, intertwined together and should, as our Indigenous brothers and sisters keep reminding us, be viewed through the heart lens of Wellness (ala the Medicine Wheel) for all pieces need to come out the other end together).

The same thoughts in the grieving process I can imagine Peter and Mary Magdalene, probably Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ Mummy reflecting on, I too have held in my own journey and through the darkness to healing into the light anew. Knowing the pain and heart ache that can, and sometime does happen is it right to equip, encourage and prepare others to serve?

This is where we are in Heroes in Crisis: The Price. Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow reacting in anger towards the Justice League for failing his friend who has died. Wrestling with no matter the money he had, he was unable to save his friend. Think of our own responses in loss? How many times does Oliver’s sentiments echo in our own soul? Change out money with other skills, talents, privileges and resilience we have that came to naught when death finally came. Some may say why bring up these hard discussions, can you not read the room with what the world is going through right now?

Yes, I can, and that is why we should be talking about wellness. It is important, especially now. Understanding the cycle storms of grieving and change is important (google U Theory or Kubler-Ross’, also previous writings of mine show these) to know that normal things happen during these times of transition.

For Holy Saturday it is usually a day of contemplative prayer and practiced silence for hearing the Holy Mystery speak to us, as they did nearly 2,000 years ago to those hiding then.

The story unfolds more into the tale of Batman and Flash. Those who raise the question through the story of Gotham and Gotham Girl, about the appropriateness of encouraging and equipping others for the life. The life that can cost so much, that the meta-myth is that they choose to be heroes to protect their loved ones, yet it is their loved ones that continue suffering as a result of the choice.

“I’ve dealt with too many unsolved cases in my life. You and I have so many mysteries as it is…I can’t afford your lies anymore.”

-Barry Allen, The Flash

In the ruins of the Flash museum, still grieving the loss of his nephew and returned friend, Wally West, from Heroes in Crisis, Barry confronts Batman. It echoes the truth in human services, the many times we are left with the unknown, the incomplete, the loss and we create our own narratives to push us through. To be able to continue to function, the ideas “we can’t save them all” or “it’s their choice” or (insert your favourite here). All are truthie, yet all remove the humanity from the equation in the journey, the connection, the intimacy of the journey of healing, and the most importantly that to do the work well, one must see each person as having value for simply being human. Inherent and intrinsic value and worth.

When things are left a mystery, when we are unable to have healthy closure, or when we experience loss of life-

It takes a toll.

And this is the challenge for as the heroes left behind continue answering crisis after crisis, while trying to solve the death of their friends the truth of the situation echoes out. The work never stops, and neither does one’s own life and challenges running parallel. Yet in our own world of service we continually hear the false mantra of efficiency from neo-liberal governance “DO MORE WITH LESS” and we are left broken, for the impossibility and implausibility of it all.

Like Green Arrow’s question in anger at his friend’s funeral to the Justice League, “Where’s Batman and Flash, did he not matter enough?”

The truth was, he mattered, and the work was to find the killer. In the work, they could not let themselves pause, to feel the pain of loss.

Subsumed.

Unable to be with their own humanity.

As we await the new, in the darkness and the uncertain. We are in the house, like the first Holy Saturday, what world do we want to emerge in to? What are you hearing from the Holy Mystery?

Are we going to affirm our value in simply being?

Affirm and live into our collective value of being humanity?

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Flash Fact: Puddlers scraped molten pig iron , taking out chunks of carbon. They removed the flaws, the weak points in the metal, turned it into malleable iron.  But the thing about Puddlers was: they did’t live. The process of doing that, of removing the vulnerabilities it was harsh and hot. Breathing that air, working that furnace, it made them sick, killed them young. Almost as if what was wrong with the iron went into them.

One part to go. I won’t be giving away any harsh reveals or spoilers for the readers as we journey into what actually happened in sanctuary. What happens into the soul of a person who has lost everything, and now has no lightning rod.

That is the hardest part of healing. Sure, we can always say it is for ourselves we need to heal. This is truth. Yet, it can become a harder struggle when there is nothing tangible keeping us in this world. I for one know I am this far along my healing journey due to the love I have for my wife and kids, and the love they have for me. If they were not in my life, or if during this process I was to lose them I do not know if I would bother carrying through. It would be easy to simply give in to the rolling darkness, and the pain that exists within.

This is the allegory of the Puddler. The idea of them succumbing to the process of purging out the pain, the impurities and vulnerabilities. That is the journey of healing, as we go along and release, who is there to aid us in carrying the burdens? Who are the social supports we have? For as Sanctuary has shown the heroes, it is not just about having a space to dump, but who is there when you leave the room? What is there for you when you leave the room?

Image result for heroes in crisis 8When you make the choice to seek healing, who is there for you on the journey? It may start as the professional/paid supports out numbering the social supports. But as true healing happens, the social supports need to outgrow the professionals. When I worked building life recovery groups, the outcome was not for the person to only have the 12 step group be the only support. Rather for it to always be there, but for the person to go find new networks to flourish in as well.

The Puddler that cannot escape the harsh heat and air, succumbs to it was they take on the darkness. This is the person in healing who is not ready to face the darkness within, who does not have supports to carry through to the light…It also speaks to the seeping in, the transference of trauma and pain to others who are unaware of the journey you have chosen to begin…or choosing a social support that appears safe, but is not. Like the data files dumped on to the internet from Sanctuary about the heroes’ darkness, so is vicarious trauma lurking to go through like a lightning storm.

The rolling story of healing-pain-seeking is well laid out through the familiar heroes we have grown up with. The question is, what lessons are we taking away for a better today and tomorrow?


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When Hal Jordan in grief succumbed to Parallax and killed the GL Corps

Heroes in Crisis for the uninitiated is the 9 part mini-series by Tom King and Clay Mann put out by DC Comics. It is about mental health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a feeling the Post-Traumatic Growth is coming…and a little place called Sanctuary. Oh and there is a temporal murder mystery as well. What is not to love as walls of stigma are shattered by the biggest heroic names of Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman?

The mystery is deepening as Blue & Gold (Booster Gold & Blue Beetle) meet up with the Dynamicker Duo (Harley Quinn & Batgirl) on the run and trying to sort out the truth (spoiler: the body of Wally West was 5 days older than the day it was found).

Wally’s story is unfolding of his weeks in Sanctuary treatment, 1, 2, 3, 4. It is a real time look at what happens when one opens themselves up to the healing process. There is a euphoria of the good, a leveling out, a time of more intense sorrow than can be explained (tears are healing)…and then it is like being in the eye of a Related imageHurricane…and eerie calm that you just cannot explain but are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It creates a different kind of anxiety within your system. It is not driven by flashbacks, grief, physical-emotional-mental pain. It is literally driven by the fear that you are becoming you again.

That the trauma you are moving through, you are growing and changing for the better. Healing.

In that healing though the new grief anxiety grows as you realize that change is coming. Change triggers grief. Your entire system is used to running in the PTSD heightened sense of being, and it is possible to baseline back to you. Can you handle it?

What does it mean to no longer have your pain control you? But to integrate it healthily and move forward?

In Wally West’s case, returned from the Speed Force or where ever he was trapped due to Flashpoint and the New 52…it is the healing fear, of moving on from not having his family, Linda (his lightning rod) and Jai/Iris (his kids) and all the Flash family. As he noted in an earlier issue, “I am starting to forget”.

The healing crossroads, to choose the new life, or abide in the pain trauma or to simply cease. For those who may not get the rhythm of healing this issue could appear quite uninspired, but it is in its pacing that the true ending of stigma of mental health abides.

Thank you to my hunni for the gift of issue #7, cannot wait until next month and the month after (for the finale)…then guess I need a new series to read 🙂

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Okay so it finally happened. Pardon me while I fan-boy more than a little. Growing up one of my fav titles was Justice League International (then Justice League America and Justice League Europe); aside from G’nort, the cat, General Glory, Martian Manhunter and his Oreos to name but a few. What was remembered most fondly, and hardest to capture since was the camaraderie and fun of Blue & Gold (Blue Beetle & Booster Gold).

Then we enter into the fourth crisis issue, where friendship emerges, and Ted Kord is back in the blue (and alive). As we continue to go deep into who is the murderer?

Who has succumbed to the darkness?

What is happening with the coping of PTSD like symptoms, and with the Puddler source, what will the world think of their heroes humanized? Will mental health stigma still reign?

And Harley Quinn gets a partner in truth discovery, from an unlikely source in the damaged by Joker department.

TImage result for heroes in crisis #4o the hardest hits being what happens when a young hero who has grown older discovers that he has lost his friends. One that he just recently discovered he had regained- Garth (Tempest, Aqualad) does what many will do with pain instead of seeking aid. Crawl into a mind altering substance, for this swimmer the choice was into a bottle.

And Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) playing designated carry home.

But the most gut wrenching scene being Green Arrow and Black Canary in a very Ollie and Dinah scene honouring the life of Roy.

The human touches. Asking the deeper questions… what happens when the only way that a hero can find help is taken from them? What will happen with the fall of Sanctuary and the revelation that it was not anonymous– what effect will this have on the health of the holistic health of the heroes, the Trinity and the Justice League.

As Blue Beetle would say, for him it was having the one person you knew you could call and they would answer. Do you have that one person?

Who is your person?


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Internalized trauma. We know it is a reality in soldiers, abuse survivors, first responders. Now King and Mann bring this reality to the world of super-heroes. Some will toss it aside as yet another hero deconstructed story. There is more to it than that however. For it is also about the hero as person. Understanding that their decisions, lives and experiences craft who they are.

Welcome to Sanctuary. A specialty location built by the Trinity (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) for the utmost privacy in debriefing, and healing. It is  a place with a computer therapist that allows for complete autonomy. Supposedly no recordings, it is there for health. We are 2/9 issues in and so far it is a strong character driven story.

It is also a super hero story. As Sanctuary is not safe, someone has attacked and murdered those who sought healing. There are two suspects who survived of those that were supposed to be there. Was it an outside attack? Did the missing survivors have a psychotic break and kill?

Within those that are now dead, there are chilling full page confessionals sharing the effects of the life. These that show how out of control Blue Jay’s shrinking powers have become during his flashbacks. Truly showing how internalized trauma affects the whole self, whether it is convulsions, sweats, hypertension…the list can go on as no one patient is identical, same with the stories of the heroes seeking aid. Coming to the place that is supposed to be safe to decompress.

The heroes lay themselves bare.

Then the idea of stigma is so well handled. As even the big 3, the Trinity, use Sanctuary. Guard down, masks off. Who is the ones that use it for help? Who are the ones that continue to squash and avoid emotion? The answer may surprise you as tears flow.

Then the hack and the revelation that someone has the stories. The double standard is shown as the first story leaked is Arsenal (formerly Speedy), a recovering addict. The shock and dismay of the public on the hero laid bare.

Stigma.

Why someone would not seek help for trauma?

Laid out well in the shock of the public that a hero would have demons to battle. Even as walls come down around mental health support, old stigmas, internalized dialogues still persist.

The greatest fear of seeking help:

What if someone finds out?

What will the world think?

Will my loved ones see me as weak?

What will I lose by diagnosis?