Saturday, July 13, 2013

When you can't find your way home

When you can't find your way home
De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide
Kathie Costos
July 13, 2013

This video starts out with a veteran wearing an Iraq Veterans Against the War T-shirt.

If you have a problem with that, get past it long enough to watch the whole thing. It is important to hear the rest of it.
Pulling the trigger and being against the reason you are where you are is very hard to deal with, make sense out of and almost impossible to make peace with. I said "almost impossible" because that is the way it is unless you have a different way of seeing it.

Taking off your uniform was the easy part. Making peace with what you did while in it is the hard part.

First, forget whatever the military told you. Forget about whatever they said about the enemy because when you are honest with yourself, you know better than anyone else, that had the opponents you were sent to fight put down their weapons you would have danced for joy. That is the truth you may have forgotten about.

The next thing is thinking about the reason why you wanted to serve in the first place. The easy answer of wanting to serve your country does not really explain it to anyone including yourself. You could have done anything else with your life and still served your country. Why this? Why this choice when you were putting your life in danger? Why this when you knew it would change everything?

Many veterans say they never thought of doing anything else. Does that mean they were looking forward to killing people? Nope. Does it mean they wanted to help the others sent? Most of the time. Nothing evil in that. Is there? Nope.

With that out of the way let's take it to the next step. Why did you do what you did? Was it to kill someone or was it to save someone else? Big difference. Cops have the same issues when they have to kill someone to prevent someone else from dying. It comes with the job. They "protect and serve" not kill and destroy. You didn't risk your life for anything else but to protect the brothers/sisters you with.

You are not much different than any other generation coming home from combat. You are 7% of the population. Do you really expect them to understand you any better than your generation understood Vietnam veterans, or they understood Korean or WWII veterans when they were young? No one really understands until they put the uniform on.

After over 30 years, I will never really totally understand even though I have been around veterans all my life. I never put a uniform on. I don't even know what it is like to worry about someone I love during deployments. My husband had been home for years before we even met. When it comes to coming home with PTSD you are in an even smaller minority than the 7%. Don't expect any civilian to understand much at all and get ready for some really stupid things they say. Even people you love will say stupid things but it doesn't change the fact they love you. They only understand as much as you share with them. You don't have to tell them every detail of your deployment. That would be too hard on you and way more than they will be able to hear.

Keep it simple. Let them know what you are comfortable sharing. If you don't have someone close to talk to, talk to other veterans at Veterans Centers. They have been around since the 70's. Find someone you feel comfortable with so they can listen as you sort things out. As soon as you start talking, PTSD stops getting worse. Help them hear you.

You may be pushing people away when you need them the most. You may not want them to see what you have going on inside your head, but you are not really seeing it either.

Why did you feel pain? Why did you grieve? Do evil people give a damn about anyone but themselves? Do they care about what was done or what they did? Nope. You did. You did and that goodness inside of you is what is causing you so much pain. Surprise! All the good you had all your life is still there. It is trying to reclaim the LZ in your soul.

You cared. Some of you get confused between compassion and courage. Courage is worthless unless you care enough to act on it. You wouldn't risk your life if you didn't care. So why are you forgetting that now? Why forget that when you saw someone die in combat or get wounded, you felt pain? Why forget the times you shed a tear or put your arms around one of the others you were with? Why forget that the reason you were there in the first place came from your soul? Why believe that God was not there with you when you were able to feel such strong emotions based on what is good even in the midst of evil things happening?

The pain is not coming from anything evil. It comes from love and what is good in you. The way "back home" starts when you go back to the beginning.

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