I recently transitioned back home from my time at American Lakes PTSD program. My time there was everything that I needed. I was able to begin to peel the onion layers of trauma and the ways I was (and wasn’t) dealing with them. I certainly have a long way to go, but I do feel like I am finally on a pathway to a new normal, a new balance. The road will not be easy, that I have no doubt of. But, I feel as if I have finally steadied my pack and have the tools necessary to shoot an azimuth that will be sustainable in my life. It reminds me of this one time in Marine Infantry school when I just couldn’t seem to get my pack to set correctly on my back. Drove me crazy! We were on our Monday morning forced hump, and I just could not get comfortable. I know, on a long hump you never are comfortable, but this pack was just killing me. I couldn’t get it to sit on top of my LBV and the shoulder straps just kept cutting into the outside part of my shoulders. This ended up putting all the weight right on the shoulder socket and not on the top of the shoulders. I remember at every stop we made, fidgeting with that pack and trying, in vain, to get it to just set on my back correctly. I ended up having to hold my rifle with one hand and alternate grabbing a shoulder strap and pulling it towards my sternum to alleviate pressure on my shoulders. This only worked 50% of the time because I could only do one shoulder at a time. And changing the positions, moving around, all of this made me even more grumpy and sore and tired than I should have felt. It was exhausting, and it was painful. I felt like my shoulder was going to come out of socket. I was all sorts of messed up. The answer was a simple one, and one that I took care after the hump. I purchased a cheap sternum strap for my Alice Pack…never bothered me again. See, most of the time the answers, or the solutions, to our problems are pretty easy to identify. But, I know I am rather hard-headed and like to try to do things by myself. Thinking back now, I could’ve easily asked someone for help and perhaps some suggestions. A really quick fix on the go would have been a short bit of para-cord. But that’s what happens when we try to do everything by ourselves and just “suck it up.” We struggle with pain and discomfort needlessly. For years, I have been trying to deal with trauma alone. To not reach out for help, to not truly focus on what is really wrong with my situation. Well, I’m a stubborn mule… Thankfully, I have recently learned that I can’t do it. That I can’t go it alone. That I need help from outside myself. I had breakfast this morning with a dear friend that I had been avoiding. He told me this morning about the prophet Elijah. And how when he was dealing with depression, anxiety, and feeling completely alone and overwhelmed that God did several things for him. First, He fed him. Actual food, dealing with his immediate physical needs. Next, He had him sleep. Boy, do I know the difference of sleeping and not. Finally, God talked to him where he was and about what he was doing. In that conversation he let Elijah express his feelings and then gently, yet sternly, confronted him on his misconceptions. Sometimes, the truth hurts to admit and to be confronted with. But the telling, the actual truth, it’s like getting that crud out of a wound. It hurts to clean it out, but at the same time, you can feel that it’s actually doing something beneficial. That the hurt is worth feeling, because you know you’re getting better. That’s how I feel now. The treatment that I went through hurt at times. The feelings that I now feel are not comfortable, and are in fact, scary. But it’s the kind of feeling that I can tell is beneficial, that it’s doing something for me. I’m no way treatment complete, but I do feel that I’m finally on the road to finding a livable balance between what happened to me, what I did and did not do, with who I can and want to be in the future. And I can’t do it alone. I need my family, friends, and support around me. And, yes, you too Layla! (My faithful companion needed a little love…)
Today, I feel. And that’s a change. I’m still working on my expression of feeling, but I feel like one of the skeleton’s in Elijah’s valley…I’m coming back.