Saturday, November 27, 2010
SOMEONE TO HURT WITH
"Every man dies, but not every man lives."
“When you feel like you’re running into a dead-end, don’t think of it as the end of the road, think of it as God giving you a chance to turn in another direction and have a new beginning.”
Once in a while right in the middle of an ordinary life...love brings you a fairy tale. Sometimes these fairy tales are huge and burst in unannounced. Sometimes they creep in quietly almost unnoticed. And then sometimes you might find yourself sitting in the middle of one and quite simply don't know what to do. Because you too have your own demons to extinguish, or deal with, or kick to the side, or sock in the teeth. Who is willing to listen? Who is there for you? Who is your 'Battle Buddy?"
I understand PTSD. I get it. I live it. I fight it. I hate it. I can't control it. I pray, I rail out against it, and I dread it. The hardest thing is that many friends just don't get it. I listen to 'my' Soldiers and Marines and hear them. I hear their cries for help, the pain in their eyes, their almost futile frustration and their sense that it 'doesn't feel right to be happy.' They feel lost, isolated, disassociated, and define their PTSD as a 'scar, just like a tatoo, that is there for the rest of their lives.'
It isn't something you 'get over.' There is a book I find solace in and refer back to frequently, "How Can It Be All Right, When Everything Is All Wrong? by Lewis B. Smedes. "Put it as plainly as it can be put: we need to suffer some of the cussed wrongness of life in order to find its deep rightness. We have to feel pain we do not want to feel, carry burdens we do not want to carry, put up with misery we do not want to put up with, cry tears we do not want to shed. If we feel no hurt now, we will, when all is done, be the most miserable of all people. Ultimately, at the end of the game, when we cash in our chips, it will be all right with us only if we have been hurt with life's wrongness."
As Smedes says, 'To suffer is to put up with things you very much want not to put up with.....if you badly want to be rid of something and it will not go away, you are suffering." It is often, for our warriors, a mental anguish, a desperate ache, visions of 'hell' that won't go away. Somehow this suffering has bound us together. Our pain, our grief, our hurt that we have no power to make go away. By all appearances we are stuck with it. As William Shakespeare said, "Out, out damned spot." But this spot won't go away.
It was Thanksgiving a couple of days ago. My house was full of warriors bound in brotherhood, all victimized by PTSD. I suffer with them because I choose freely to let their hurts hurt me. I bring it on myself. And yes it is my doing. I have walked, eyes wide open, into their pain.
They don't know this. Nor do they have to. Nor is it important that that they do. It is what it is. I like to think of it as my gift. My understanding to a small degree, what they are forced to endure, perhaps makes me better equipped to help, sharing, to a small degree, their pain.
As they walked in the door of a home smelling of roasted turkey, arms wide open, I entered their embrace and heard two single words whispered by each into my ear, "Hi Mom." To me there are no more beautiful words. To me these two words make the suffering worthwhile. For a while I am their mother and they are my sons. Son, men, warriors that I understand. Warriors that I love. Warriors that for some reason find comfort in me. I wonder why I was chosen. I wonder why me. But then it doesn't really matter does it? What does matter is that we find comfort in each other. And in this big old messed up world what else is there?
To see these young men, fighting in the aftermath of multiple deployments against PTSD that visits them every moment of the day and night, sometimes the only and the best comfort - the one single thing that understands them is their dog. This I understand. To simply put your hand out and that dog is there, no matter what, can, at least, for that time, make everything alright.
To be lucky enough to locate someone to hurt with is all that is needed.
Sitting on a sunny, crisp November day with your best friend is heaven.
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What better gift could you give a warrior than someone to hurt with?