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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Pudil, LCSW-R

Look for the Helpers

As you know, we New Yorkers experienced an unfortunate event in the city where a man caused chaos at a train stop in Sunset, Brooklyn. I have to admit that I didn’t know anyone who lives in that area of the city that would have had direct interaction with this event. I was so wrong. It’s amazing how we believe that New York City is so vast when in reality it’s just a small town. I knew this event would be the topic of many sessions after occurred as we all have to ride the train. However, I was surprised that there were clients of mine that had direct involvement in the event. I found myself thinking about therapeutic ways to help them process the event and feel safe again to get back on the train, which is a part of our daily lives. I found myself channeling Mr. Rogers.

I know you are probably thinking... what does Mr. Rogers have to do with an attack on the subway system? However, trust me he does.

It’s interesting how we New Yorkers have such a high tolerance for chaos. Sitting in a smoke filled station doesn’t cause too much alarm. Hearing a pinging sound makes us stop to listen, but does not initially translate as bullets. On the train, we use that time for self-care. We are usually hyper focused on reading our books or listening to music. I spend my time absorbed in crossword puzzles. We use these methods to tune out our surroundings to obtain peace amidst the crowded train.

When a chaotic event happens it takes us a moment to survey the situation. Once we figure out what’s going on we enter a state of disbelief that this couldn’t be happening. Then when it does register we then go into a panic state. We start to search around for the right thing to do. One of my clients was on the train that the shooter was on and heard the shooting. He was able to find a man that looked older and wiser. He followed that man to safety. My other client was on the train behind the shooter’s train that pulling to the station to rescue people. He became overwhelmed by the chaos he witnessed as the train pulled out of the station. Both of them no longer felt safe on the train after this event.

This is where Mr. Roger comes in. He has a quote that says “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me. Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. One helper on that day was the wiser older man that helped my teenage client get to the staircase and out of the station safely. The helpers were the people whom my client saw from the train window who stayed back to tend to those that were hurt on the platform. These helpers provided a sense that humanity still exists in this world no matter what happens. Look for the positive people in the world to remind you that it is still good in the world. So, as you are out completing your daily tasks take a moment to notice the helpers.

As always, I’m here for you.


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