First lady Laura Bush has been appearing on television, trying
to calm and reassure Americans, especially children, that we
are safe in our homes. She has expanded and fulfilled her
role as first lady by including this new and unexpected duty.
She has been affectionately nicknamed comforter in
chief. While her husband manages the nation's wartime
strategies, Laura Bush compliments his leadership with
Laura Bush is a
55-year-old former second-grade school teacher and librarian.
She is traditional in her marriage and in her career choices,
and seems quite at ease with this. She does not seem to feel
compelled to prove herself to anyone or to defend her
Some women just
seem to have a maternal component to their personality. Why
do some women exhibit this behavior and some do not? Perhaps
it is their disposition, or a learned behavior, or a coping
style. I have known maternal types who are quite young,
married as well as single, with or without children. I have
even come across some men who have an unusual maternal way
about them. People have different reactions to the maternal
types. Some like them, and some do not. Some people feel
nurtured and comforted by maternal types, whereas others feel
suffocated and infantilized.
I like Laura
Bush's approach and I like her message. In essence, it is the
same material with which many of us in the helping professions
are confronted daily: helping the traumatized to cope with
stress and to work through feelings.
In a recent
speech (11/0 8/01) to the National Press Club, the first lady
stated, "Rather than fearing death, we are embracing
life--life that is now seen as more precious, more meaningful
than it seemed before that tragic fall day." Yes, life
is short, but we will not embrace death or the fear of death.
Life is meaningful. Meaning can be discovered, created, and
American cannot take it for granted that they will live to
achieve their goals or even to come home from work at night.
Health and longevity are never guaranteed, but death on a
"tragic fall day" is a new and dark possibility.
This realization, however, has caused terrorism to backfire.
For we are now more aware of the preciousness of life and have
a strong willingness to protect: whether through the military
Some of us work
with life and death matters every day, especially in the
fields of alcoholism and drug addiction. Some of the A.A.
slogans, such as a day at a time, are applicable to
our nation's need for healing and moving forward. People in
recovery have always understood the immediacy and deep
significance of that simple saying.
group therapy sessions with recovering alcoholics, I have
stimulated discussion by asking the group: what if you only
had six months to live, would you drink? Rarely will someone
answer yes.* If someone does answer yes, that indicates to
me that recovery has been unrewarding for them, that they are
struggling, and that there is still a lot of therapeutic work
to be done. Most will answer no. And that indicates to me
that these patients have undergone tremendous growth. They
have found reasons that would make even six months of sober
life worthwhile. Like Laura Bush, they embrace life and do
not fear death.
[*NOTE: I have
always asked the above question to higher functioning groups
where it can be expected that patients will answer in the
affirmative. Their affirmative answers help to bring their
own values into greater awareness. If a patient answers in
the negative, it then becomes necessary to do some relapse
prevention counselling and to assess for depression or other
possible co-existing conditions. Asking the above question is
NOT a typical therapeutic technique.] (Written
11/19/01 - Revised 12/01/03: bibliography available.)
Until we meet