It’s hard being the new kid at school. You don’t know what to wear or how to find your way to the cafeteria or the restroom. You don’t know which teachers have a reputation for kindness and which for meanness. You don’t know who will be your friend or who will make fun of you.
Yesterday I had a call from “Ann”, a woman I have known for over fifteen years. I first met Ann when she came to me for psychotherapy in her mid-twenties. After about three years of therapy we agreed that she was on emotionally solid ground. She was better able to manage and grow her relationships, she was happy with her professional choices, and she was ready to start a family. In other words, Ann was “launched” from the uncertainties of youth into adulthood.
Recent research confirms what common sense tells us: loneliness hurts. Not only does it hurt, it can make us sick. In short, without the protection of social relationships, people tend to feel besieged and respond with the predictable “fight, flight, or freeze” response that prompts us to react appropriately in the face of danger. The problem is that this heightened state of physiologic preparedness takes a toll on our immune system, leaving us vulnerable to physical, as well as emotional, illness.
The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere—the day in which we enjoy the least amount of the sun’s light and warming rays. With darkness falling quickly, many are glad to be with family and friends who offer a different kind of light and warmth in anticipation of the approaching year-end holidays. Those less fortunate may suffer doubly—their day darkened by the absence of both sunlight and companionship.
The news of the relationship between foster care and the sex trade has made its way to the Capitol. In recent testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee former foster child, Withelma “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, cogently outlined the multiple ways in which the structure and function of the child welfare system create a smooth pathway from foster care to the sex trade. Not least of these is the fact that foster children generate income for the homes in which they reside. Whether the money that follows a foster child is sufficient to cover the costs of her stay in the foster home is another question for another time. The fact is that adults are paid to care for foster children.