Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Unless You Let Us Know You're Down There"

This poem is spillover from the November 6, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "identity crisis" square in my 11-5-18 card for the Family Ties Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] fuzzyred. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. It follows "Confused, Screwed Up, But Here" so read that first or this won't make any sense.

Warning: This poem deals with some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It includes the aftermath of low-contact sexual assault, emergency phone call, asking for help and getting it, hypervigilance, touch aversion, running around on a winter night with no coat on, low sense of self-worth, painful conversation about the assault, identity crisis, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


Unless You Let Us Know You're Down There

[Night of December 22, 2014]


"Can I hide out at your place for
a while?" Shiv begged, clutching
his smartphone in cold fingers.

"Yes, of course," Tolli said.
"You can stay as long as you like."

"Thanks," Shiv said, sagging in relief.
"I just -- I need to get away a bit."

"Shiv, are you all right?"
Tolli's voice sharpened.

"I'm not injured," Shiv said.
"It's, well, Luci's family came
for a surprise visit and I got
caught up in some ... stuff."

"It doesn't sound fun," Tolli said.

"Chyou thought it was,"
Shiv said bitterly.

"Do I need to come
up there and have words
with this Chyou?" Tolli said.

For a moment, Shiv entertained
the idea of siccing Tolli on Chyou.
That'd be an epic ass-kicking
if ever there was one.

Then the image of Luci crying
reminded Shiv why he hadn't
simply knifed the bitch himself.

"Naw, I just need to get gone,"
Shiv said, turning the last corner.

"Okay," Tolli said. "Do you need
a bus ticket -- or should I call
for a teleporter instead?"

Shiv licked his lips.

He wasn't used to riding
with teleporters all the time
like the Finns did, and asking
for help at all scared him spitless
after all those years in foster care.

However, he was in no way up
to riding on a bus for hours.

"I wouldn't say no to
a teleporter," he admitted.

"I'll get right on that," Tolli said.

Then Shiv thought of something else.
"Could you, uh, is there anyone who
doesn't have to touch people to do it?"
he asked. "I'm kinda ... still twitchy."

"Some teleporters can carry passengers
without contact, but not many," Tolli said.
"It might take longer to find one."

"I'll wait," Shiv said firmly.

"Okay," Tolli said. "Where are you?
Whoever I send will need a destination."

Shiv slipped into Clinton-Jefferson Playground,
the wisps of dry grass whispering against his legs.

It wasn't completely dark in the little notch
between two townhouses, because a streetlight
across the road threw a bit of light that way.

Shiv walked to the back wall where vines
scribbled a roof over the park bench.

Then he gave Tolli the address.
"Tell 'em to look close, because it's
just a gap in the row, easy to miss."

"I will," Tolli said. "I'll call back
and let you know if it's going to take
longer than twenty minutes or so."

"Okay," Shiv said softly. "Bye."

He stuffed the phone in his pocket,
then paced around the tiny park.

The familiar space wrapped around him,
and solid brick walls on three sides
helped him feel a little less edgy.

A train wailed in the distance,
running through the winter night.

Shiv's phone rang, and he
hurried to answer it. "Hello?"

"Hi, Shiv, I got you a ride," Tolli said.
"No-Hands Hannigan can pick you up
without needing to touch, and I think
you'll get along like a house on fire."

Shiv gave a wild laugh. "That'd be nice."

"Just put on your company manners
like Boss White taught you," Tolli said.
"She literally has no arms, so please
be polite and don't tease her about that."

"Huh," Shiv said, inevitably reminded
of Ragno and wondering if he knew
that there was an armless teleporter.
"I'll do my best. I'm iffy tonight, but
I think that I can manage that much."

"Shiv, how close to the edge are you?"
Tolli asked. "I can come if you need me."

"I'm -- I'm holding on, for now, but I
really don't want to be here anymore,"
Shiv said. "I'm sorry to be a bother."

"You are not a bother," Tolli said instantly.

"But I'm mooching crash space," Shiv said
as he wrapped his arms around himself.

"Sometimes in life, you fall down holes
that you can't climb out of by yourself,"
Tolli said. "That's what friends and family
are for -- to help. We can't help, however,
unless you let us know you're down there."

Shiv took a deep breath. "Help,"
he said. "Get me out of here."

"Help is on the way," Tolli promised.
"No-Hands Hannigan should get
to you in just a few minutes."

"Thanks," Shiv said, and
then ended the call.

It was cold outside, and he
hadn't got a coat, so he paced
in circles again to stay warm.

An unfamiliar rush of sound
made Shiv press himself against
the wall behind one of the buildings
so he couldn't be seen from the street.

"All aboard!" a cheeky voice called.

Shiv peeked around the corner
to see an athletic woman with
long brown hair and no arms.

"I'm here to pick up a passenger
to Tolli's place," she said. "Is that you?"

"Uh, yeah," he said as he stepped out
from behind the building. "I'm Shiv."

"No-Hands Hannigan, at your service,"
she said. "Do you get airsick, by the way?"

"I don't know," Shiv said. "I've never
been on an airplane, so I can't
tell. Why, does it matter?"

"Riding with me feels a lot like
riding on a plane, there's a swoop
and then a drop," she said. "Think of
when you ride a swing, how it pulls."

"Yeah, okay," Shiv said. "I don't
get carsick much. I think I'll be fine."

"You're already well within my reach,"
said No-Hands Hannigan. "Shall we?"

"Yes, please," Shiv said, scooting closer.

The air whooshed around them. He
felt the lift and dip of her ability holding him,
and then they landed at Tolli and Simon's house.

"Whee, that was fun!" Shiv exclaimed,
surprised by how much he enjoyed the ride.

Tolli was waiting for them on the parking slab
in front of the garage, while Simon sat on
the porch with a weapon in his lap.

Shiv couldn't see exactly what
it was, but Simon's whole stance
shouted armed and dangerous.

"Any trouble?" Tolli asked.

"Nope," said No-Hands Hannigan.
"Do I need to pitch somebody
through the door of That Guy?"

"I don't know yet," Tolli said.
"Let me get back to you on that.
You're welcome to crash here in
the barn apartment, if you want
to take your pay tomorrow."

"I might do that," she said.

"Payment?" Shiv said. "Shit,
I know teleporters are expensive --"

"Don't worry about it," Tolli said.
"She loves to ride horses but
doesn't have any. We do."

"Oh, okay," Shiv said,
watching her head toward
the barn and its corral.

"I won't pry, Shiv, but I'm
wondering what happened
between you and this Chyou,"
Tolli said. "I'm a bit worried."

"It was -- she just --" Shiv said.
"Chyou wanted to fool around
and I didn't, but she wouldn't take
no for an answer." He rubbed
his arm where she grabbed him.

"Did she hurt you?" Tolli asked
in a quiet, dangerous voice.

"Not really," Shiv said. "I mean,
she caught hold of my arm, but not
like hard enough to bruise." He sighed.
"I shouldn'ta pulled my knife on her."

"Shiv, if you drew steel, I have
every confidence that it was
completely justified," Tolli said.

Shiv's jaw dropped. "Nobody
ever says that," he muttered.

"Well they should," Tolli said.

"I guess," Shiv said. He'd never
gotten anything but trouble
for it, except in the gang.

He was maybe having
a bit of an identity crisis,
between the shit with Chyou,
having to ask for help, and
actually getting some.

Then again, Shiv's life had
pretty much sucked, so getting
a new one was ... not so bad.

"Is there anything else that
you want to tell me about
what happened?" Tolli said.

Shiv looked away. "I don't
want to talk about it," he said,
rubbing his arms. "Can you
take care of things for me?
I asked Boss White, too,
but he's not here and I can't
stand being in Omaha tonight."

"All right, I'll take care of it,"
Tolli said. "Thank you for
bringing this to me."

"Yeah," Shiv said. "I'd
fix it myself, but ... I couldn't
think of anything to do that
wouldn't make Luci cry,
and I don't want that."

"Of course you don't,"
Tolli said. "I know that
you two are pretty close."

"We are," Shiv said,
shivering in the cold.

"Listen, Shiv, I want you
to go in the house with Simon,"
said Tolli. "I need to do some stuff
before I can join you inside."

Shiv looked over his shoulder.

Simon smiled from the porch
and opened the door of the house.

Yellow light spilled out to make
a warm, inviting rectangle.

"Okay," Shiv said, heading in.

* * *

Notes:

No-Hands Hannigan (Ann Dari Hannigan) -- She has golden skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and long straight black hair. She was born without arms. Graceful and athletic, she also has contortionist physiology. Ann is Filipina by birth, adopted by an Irish-American couple. Her father is a composer who teaches music at the local college. Her mother is a paramedic. Her older brother is blind. Her younger sister has deformed legs and walks with half-crutches. Ann speaks Arabic, English, Esperanto, French, Irish, Spanish, and Tagalog (Filipino). Ann is married to her former Tae Kwon Do instructor, who now serves as her business manager. They have adopted a son, Bayani "Bay" Hannigan, who came to them after entanglement in some infant equipment resulted in bilateral amputation at forearm level. They usually have several foster children as well, and want to adopt more; like Ann's parents, they focus on "less adoptable" children. They live in Charleston, South Carolina. Ann is friends with Simon and Tollliver Finn.
As an infant, Ann came to America and joined the Hannigan family. Her parents made a game of challenging her to do things without hands -- and without telling her how to do it, although they would show her a few examples. She quickly learned to figure out her own ways of doing everything, and delighted in the discovery. The more "impossible" the challenge, the more she loved it. She has since learned how to cook, do self-care such as putting on makeup, play the piano, and type at 25 words per minute with her toes. Ann got her first bicycle license at 7, bus license at 9, and driver's license at 16. At 14 she earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a martial art based on kicking and agility. At 22 she started flying lessons, and earned her pilot license at 25. She took up surfing at 30, scuba diving at 32, and horseback riding at 34. She is currently 35 years old and her husband is 37.
At 22, Ann graduated from Towson University in Towson, Maryland with a major in Health Education & Promotion (Community Health Concentration) and a minor in Applied Adult Disability Studies. After that, she spent a summer at the California Center of Excellence for Trauma-Informed Care in Santa Cruz where she earned a Certificate in Advanced Trauma-Informed Care for 20 classes plus a practicum of 1-4 weeks and a final exam. At 27, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master's Degree in Social Psychology and a graduate certificate in Natural Disaster Resilience. Her dissertation turned into the self-help book Unarmed and Dangerous, primarily about martial arts for people with upper limb losses. It includes supporting materials about how to do things with your feet and generally get by without hands or arms.
Origin: Ann was born with Contortionist Physiology and developed her potential out of necessity, using her feet instead of hands. When she was 30, the engine in her airplane failed, and she teleported to safety. She has since gone to work as a teleporter specializing in no-contact transportation, sometimes for SPOON and other times freelance.
Uniform: Varies widely according to context. She has the Eastbord SPOON uniform of light blue shirt and pants with the SPOON logo embroidered in silver on the chest pocket. Off-duty she wears comfortable women's clothes in a wide range of colors.
Qualities: Master (+6) Look, Ma, No Hands!, Expert (+4) Athletic, Expert (+4) Determination, Good (+2) Impressive, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Making Friends, Good (+2) Wealth
Powers: Average (0) Contortionist Physiology, Good (+2) Teleportation
Motivation: To live without limits.

In T-America, her self-help book is called Unarmed and Dangerous, primarily about martial arts for people with upper limb losses. It includes supporting materials about how to do things with your feet and generally get by without hands or arms.

Contortionist Physiology comes with enhanced flexibility, agility, and dexterity based on an assortment of rare genetic traits that affect collagen elasticity and joint hypermobility. It's one of the few superpowers recognized in our world. In Terramagne, it's a precursor of other superpowers such as Elasticity.

Community Health Concentration
at Towson University in Towson, Maryland


Required Prerequisites
BIOL 191 & 191L
INTRODUCTORY BIOLOGY FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONS [LECTURE]
and INTRODUCTORY BIOLOGY FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONS [LAB]
CHEM 121 & 121L
ALLIED HEALTH CHEMISTRY I LECTURE
and ALLIED HEALTH CHEMISTRY I LABORATORY
BIOL 221 & 221L
HUMAN ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY I [LECTURE]
and HUMAN ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY I [LAB]
BIOL 222 & 222L
HUMAN ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY II [LECTURE]
and HUMAN ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY II [LAB]
PSYC 101 INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY
COMM 131 PUBLIC SPEAKING
PSYC 203 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Health Education Professional Courses
WELLNESS FOR A DIVERSE SOCIETY
HEALTH CARE IN THE U.S.
FOUNDATIONS OF HEALTH EDUCATION AND HEALTH BEHAVIOR
CHRONIC AND COMMUNICABLE DISEASE
CURRICULUM AND PLANNING
HEALTH COMMUNICATION
INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS IN HEALTH EDUCATION
ORGANIZATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAMS
MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION IN HEALTH EDUCATION

Requirements for Community Health Concentration
HLTH 310 INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC HEALTH
HLTH 435 INTRODUCTION TO EPIDEMIOLOGY
HLTH 451 INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

Required Electives
HLTH 103 EMC, FIRST AID AND SAFETY
HLTH 201 INTERNATIONAL HEALTH
HLTH 219 WOMEN'S HEALTH
HLTH 220 SEXUALITY IN A DIVERSE SOCIETY
HLTH 350 URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS
HLTH 407 VIOLENCE PREVENTION FOR HEALTH EDUCATORS

Internship
FIELD WORK IN COMMUNITY HEALTH


Applied Adult Disability Studies Minor
at Towson University in Towson, Maryland


Required Courses
AADS 205 INTRODUCTION TO DISABLING CONDITIONS
AADS 305 HISTORY OF DISABILITY
AADS 310 UNDERSTANDING DISABILITY THROUGH MASS MEDIA
AHLT 313 CLINICAL PROGRAM PLAN & EVALUATION

Service Learning Course
AADS 315 EMPLOYMENT AND DISABILITY

Elective
FMST 301 FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS
HLTH 208 MENTAL HEALTH, STRESS MANAGEMENT, AND CRISIS INTERVENTION

T-American:
Compensating for Physical Disabilities
Superdisempowers in Disability Justice


Ann spent a summer at the California Center of Excellence for Trauma-Informed Care in Santa Cruz where she earned a Certificate in Advanced Trauma-Informed Care for 20 classes plus a practicum of 1-4 weeks and a final exam.

California Center of Excellence for Trauma-Informed Care in Santa Cruz, CA
(Ann took 20 classes out of L-American 37 or T-American 46)
Most of these are 1-2 day training sessions. A few are partial-day or 3-day ones. In T-America, the CCETIC offers a summer intensive during which sessions of all their trainings are offered. Students can earn a Certificate of Completion for each individual class, or a Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care for 10 classes plus a weekend practicum and final exam. They can earn a Certificate in Advanced Trauma-Informed Care for 20 classes plus a practicum of 1-4 weeks and a final exam. CCETIC has an arrangement with the University of California in Santa Cruz to credit a minor in Trauma-Informed Care for students who complete all 40 classes plus a set of courses on the UCSC campus.

L-American Classes
Implementing ‘Seeking Safety’
Trauma-Informed Services
Overview of PTSD and Complex Trauma
Substance Abuse and Trauma
Self-Care and the Impact of Trauma
Domestic Violence and Trauma
Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
Advocating on Behalf of Survivors
Children and Trauma
Human Trafficking
The Neurobiology of Trauma & Trauma-Informed Communication
Sexual Assault Survivors
Trauma-Informed Homeless Shelters & Services

Additional T-American Classes
Asian-Americans and Trauma: Addressing Racial Issues
Communal Trauma
Evolution of Terms for Traumatic Stress
Flickering and Other Manifestation Issues
Generational Trauma
Politics and Trauma
Superpower-Related Trauma

NATURAL HAZARDS RESILIENCE CERTIFICATE
from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


COURSE REQUIREMENTS
PLAN 755: Planning for Natural Hazards and Climate Change Adaptation
PLAN 756: Survey of Natural Hazards and Disasters
PLAN 754: Natural Hazards Speakers Series
1 ELECTIVE: Approved by advisor
In T-America, the speaker class is PLAN 754h: Category 6 Hurricanes. The elective is PLAN 757: Superpowered Conflicts.

* * *

"Sometimes in life, you fall down holes you can't climb out of by yourself. That's what friends and family are for-to help. They can't help, however, unless you let them know you're down there."
-- Meg Cabot

See the Clinton-Jefferson Playground in Omaha. It has a bench at the left side of the back and a sandbox at the right. This is the sign.

Asking for help can be confusing. This post about an autistic child explains the process of asking for help, with a flow chart, and includes a list of very practical reasons why people often resist asking for help. Shiv has difficulty asking for help, due to ineffective or harmful results from trying that in his past, but he's desperate enough to reach out this time. Follow the steps to ask for help.

Perfectionism comes in various types, which can be healthy or unhealthy. Abused children and gifted people are prone to perfectionism. There are ways to overcome perfectionism or help someone else do so.

Personal boundaries come in different types. Ideally, people understand how to set and maintain boundaries which are flexible and semi-permeable. Child abuse damages boundaries, causing many problems that can linger into adulthood. Survivors often struggle with setting appropriate boundaries. Shiv's awareness and handling of his boundaries is erratic at best, because people have violated his so often that he barely knows where they should go. Here's a more detailed exploration of boundaries and psychology.

(Some of these links are harsh.)
Intimacy is a special closeness that comes in different types and aspects. It is essential to both sexual and nonsexual relationships, in order to move beyond the shallowest levels of interaction. However, vulnerability is the key to intimacy -- you can't get close to anyone without letting them inside your defenses -- which is why so many people resist vulnerability. Shiv never had a chance to form healthy attachments growing up, often described as disordered attachment but more accurately connection disruption, which makes it difficult for him to develop positive relationships as an adult. Children prevailingly develop the same attachment style as their parents, and only 15% of foster parents have secure attachment. The early abuse and neglect left Shiv with fear of intimacy and fear of vulnerability, because his experiences with those things have been consistently bad. He has a preconditioned belief that everything good will go bad, just like it has before. Traumatic stress leaves people "stuck in the past," which ruins the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Previously Shiv was surrounded by untrustworthy people, and had correct distrust; but now that he is surrounded by more trustworthy people, his trust is increasing far slower than their actions merit, which leaves him under-trusting and unable to take full advantage of new opportunities. There are ways to overcome fear of intimacy and stop avoiding vulnerability. Learn how to experience joy without fear. Understand how to handle a relationship with someone afraid of intimacy.

(Some of these links are intense.)
Difficulty speaking can come from physical or psychological reasons. . In trauma survivors, the psychological can become the physical. Introverts and men often struggle to express themselves. People with autism or other neurovariants may think in very different ways, rather than primarily with words. Similarly, visual or kinesthetic thinkers have to "translate" from their natural mode of thought to vocalize ideas, so they may have a harder time with reading, writing, and/or speaking. Child abuse contributes to speech disorders and other learning disabilities. Even though therapists encourage people to talk about their problems, some folks find that it just makes matters worse. So you can see why Shiv tends to flounder here. There are tips for talking about difficult topics, including in therapy. Know how to help other people talk about their problems.

The spectrum of force moves from nonviolent through violent to lethal methods. Ideally, one should aim for the probable logical control mode: just enough to meet the goal. Compare those police examples with the civilian ladder for use of force. Once Chyou grabbed Shiv after he refused her sexual advances, she demonstrated willingness to use force to procure sex. On the civilian scale, grabbing is assault, which justifies reasonable force; rape is grievous bodily harm, which justifies lethal force. On the police scale, aggression without weaponry justifies nonlethal weaponry in response. Since Shiv's last plan before Chyou gave up was a disabling injury, that would have been appropriate use of force. If he had cut her, then her family would protest it was unreasonable since all she did was grab him, and it is an escalation of force; but she wasn't stopping for anything less, which meant he either escalated force or she raped him. He didn't think of simply yelling for help, but the effectiveness of that in a noisy environment is dubious at best, especially when the assailant is already at point-blank range.

Superpowers add a whole new level of complexity to use of force and the continuum of appropriate force. Most superheroes -- and even some supervillains -- adhere to the principle of using the least force necessary to reach a goal. Using unrestrained superpowers against an ordinary opponent typically constitutes excessive force, unless the nary has a gun or other equalizer. Here's an excellent discussion of appropriate force for superheroes with regards to Batman. In this case, Shiv has superpowers ... but Chyou has the upper hand in age, experience, education, wealth, and social status backing her predatory approach.</user></user>
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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