Invisible Wounds by Kristin Orphan

Our society has a lot more grace for visible wounds and disabilities.

Last year, I had a bulging disc in my lower back. It was so painful. I lived with the pain every day. It dictated how I functioned. I tried to keep going and act like nothing was different, because I didn’t want it to keep me from doing what everyone else was doing.

Then, I realized it was only getting worse. The pain was impacting my mood and draining me of energy.

During this time, I was at the store, using the cart as support to get a little shopping done. I brought my things out to my car, gingerly unloaded and then limped the cart over to the curb, where I put the wheels up so it would not roll into any other cars.

I was in a lot of pain. I was fighting back my tears. As I carefully walked back to my car, I got a very dirty look from a lady who said to a friend loud enough for me to hear, “the cart corral is just over there, you’d think she could walk a few more steps and put it away in the right place.”

As they walked away, I was left feeling very embarrassed and ashamed. They could not see my injury. It was invisible to them, so there was no grace. I agree, I would have preferred to put the cart where it belonged, but I was doing the best I could.

The impact of trauma is invisible. A child who wears the physical characteristics of special needs is often treated with compassion and openness.

A child who wears their trauma through anti-social behavior is looked down upon and judged as “bad.”

As parents, it is our job to see the behaviors for what they are, survival skills and symptoms of an invisible wound that impacts our child’s ability to function in the world.

The work of helping a child heal is hard. When we can take a compassionate view and help our community to do the same, everyone benefits on this long journey to health.