Tuesday, December 28, 2010
A LIFESAVER ON PAPER
"Begin doing what you want to do now. We only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand--and melting like a snowflake."
- Marie Beynon Ray
"What happens when we fail to understand that everything in our life counts? One danger might be that others attempt to take away the value and meaning of our experiences.
Donald Davis reminds us that our stories belong to us.
"Who are you?" That question is not answered by telling someone where you work.
It's answered by telling someone about your mother, about when you were little, about your aunt, about your house, about your dog.
"Who are you?" is a story question. And if we don't know our own story, then we sit empty — and the danger is there are all kinds of people waiting to fill us up with a story they can control."
"Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling the secret of who you are, but more often than not of the mystery of where you have come from and are summoning you to where you should go next."
Christmas Eve was a gift, a blessing, and the miracle we have been seeking!
Imagine thousands and thousands of warriors struggling every hour of the day with the invisible wound called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Imagine the crippling pain of extreme fear when alone or having to leave the house and go into a public place, where you just know you are going to have a full blown panic attack. Imagine knowing you will experience horrible fear from being approached from behind, or someone stands beside you in a grocery store check out line, or at night you will wake up barricaded in your closet behind duffle bags with a knife, or you awaken in the morning to find scratch marks above your bed from nightmares and flashbacks during the night. Imagine writing you mom and telling her, "The past three weeks of my life have been spent in the darkest place I have ever been. I have never known such hopelessness and depression. It is impossible for me to shower, to get out of bed, to eat. I never knew a place like that existed. Time seems like a slow moving horror film."
This soldier continued, "I feel a little better today, at least I showered. But just can't help but dreading tomorrrow. I read the Pockets of Peace book you dropped off this morning and it helped to pull me out of the fog. God works miracles at the right time and the timing of your book may have saved...let's not even say it."
I am my story. I tell it with honesty and openness and yes, sometimes great pain. I tell it because it might awaken some, help some, or let some know that they are not alone. I know life is like a snowflake melting in my hand. And I also know, beyond a doubt, that God works in mysterious ways, answering prayers we never expected to have answered.
Sometimes I get tired of the stories. They are all the same. Soldiers call and spill their stories on me like molasses. Desparate for help, they open up to a strange voice on the other end of the phone, afraid to have called and afraid to have not called. We do what we can. We help those we can. We have service dogs waiting to help ease the pain.
I for one can't get the visions out of my head. The other night I had a nightmare after listening to an especially difficult story from a wounded Marine. In the dream, I was sitting in a rocking chair with my little dog, Wally, on my lap. I looked up and my most cherished friend was sitting in front of me and his head was severed. I see bodies in the Asiatic Jasmine in a neighbors front yard. There are times, I see, smell, and feel death all around me. No, I am not nuts. It is Secondary PTSD. I know what it feels like. I know unequivocably that I need to help our warriors. I know I am where I am supposed to be.
A soldier wrote me after reading, Pockets of Peace, "I picked up the book to just look at and ended up reading it cover to cover in one setting. I couldn't believe that there were others out there, even civilians, that intimately knew what I was going through. For me it was nothing less than a lifesaver on paper. After I finished the book I cried. It was a good cry, and one that I needed for months. I can honestly say that day the door for recovery was opened for me. It was just a little crack, but I could finally see the light and knew that I was worth saving. All from a book. This book changed my life and gave me the courage and strength to meet the ghosts of my recovery head on. Patsy is definitely a soldier's angel."
I write this not to boast on my having written the book, nor did I solicite the response. Quite the contrary. I write it to ask for you too to find it in your heart in this New Year to be a rock in the storm of PTSD. I ask you to find out who you are, what your story is, and share it with those who need it the most.
So why was Christmas Eve extraordinary? Because our prayers were answered by an anonymous donor who understands the horrors of PTSD and MST (Military Sexual Trauma). He gave us 'life,' and he gave us the 'liberty' to continue fighting the battle for those whose battle just began when they returned home from war. And he gave us the 'pursuit of happiness' for those who so desparately are searching for it in the dark, bleak wilderness of the invisible nightmare called PTSD.
So this morning, to him I simply say thank you. Thank you for opening your heart and understanding that what we all do in this life counts. And Sir, what you have done counts a tremendous amount.
When I received the check I did a double take, thinking surely there must be some kind of mistake. The comma was an error. And then realizing the depth of his committment to Train a Dog Save a Warrior, the tears came suddenly and without shame. They instantly did in fact, tell me who I am and where I have come from and where I am to go next.
God bless you Sir!
If you would like to help us help those who laid their lives on the line for us, please visit www.tadsaw.org
We wish you peace, we wish you love, and we wish you a guardian angel on your shoulder. We have ours!