Archive for June, 2017

“I don’t deserve to be here.” “I don’t deserve to be happy.”

It comes from deep within, this sense of having violated the sanctity of Life as a warfighter. It’s very hard to feel that you are a good soul when you’ve killed people. Even harder, at times, when you couldn’t save people you loved from getting killed.

There’s no easy way through this pain. There are no words that fix it. It’s a hard fact of a warrior’s life. The spiritual calling of a warfighter is to be a death-bearer. To take life for the sake of protecting life. It is an ancient calling and necessary to humanity. And it’s one of the hardest roles in a lifetime to bear.

Most of you know that the physical act of killing isn’t all that difficult. It’s living with it afterward.

Many warfighters do not feel regret for having killed the enemy (a fact that civilians often cannot comprehend). While many do. But I don’t know a single warfighter who doesn’t feel regret for brothers and sisters lost, for not being able to save their own.

This combination of having taken life and having lost it sets you apart. In an excruciating place. The sense that you don’t deserve grace and that you deserve to be punished feels deeply ingrained. Almost, irrefutable. There is a sense that it is fact.

Your pain and wounds are recent. Mine are ancient warrior wounds. But the soul is timeless and so all of what you’ve ever experienced remains with you, lifetime after lifetime. I often feel as if grace and good things are for other people, not for me. It’s like I’m standing apart on a hill, watching other people receive their blessings, knowing very well inside me that I’m meant to be apart. This entire lifetime for me is about accepting grace for myself. And in truth, the life I have now IS very blessed and full of goodness. But the feeling inside is what I have to allow to be healed.

It’s not easy to do.

The soul knows the sanctity of life and when we violate that sanctity — even while it is our spiritual calling for a lifetime — we know it. Deep down in our core.

The fact of the matter is we do not deserve to be here. We do not deserve to be happy.

Deserve being the operative word. We can’t console our way out of this by trying to convince ourselves that we deserve it. Our souls know what we’ve done and we can never refute lived experience. The soul just won’t buy it.

What we have to move toward is accepting grace and to do that, we have to become grace to others. I’ll explain.

The dictionary describes grace as “unmerited Divine assistance.”

Grace is also about accepting the mystery of our humanity, the fact that we can’t see the big picture, the truth that extraordinary good sometimes comes through extraordinary bad events. Sometimes, the entire course of history is changed. For the better. It’s about allowing ourselves to be part of that big web of life, even when our role has been destructive.

We know that new life never emerges without death and destruction first. That’s not to gloss over the gravity of this pain or the truth that we’ve taken human life and have been powerless or disallowed from saving others’ lives.

We’re not sugarcoating anything here. These are hard, immutable facts that we’re up against.

But grace does exist. Our souls know it as innately as they know we deserve to be punished. We see grace every single day in the life and mystery of how love and blessings flow. The fact that you’re here reading this post right now is proof of grace.

And what was grace, again? Unmerited Divine assistance.

Grace led you here.

And it is by becoming grace to others — the instruments of unmerited Divine assistance — that we restore our souls.

You don’t have to believe in grace or feel it to begin.

When we cannot accept grace for ourselves and we know deep in our souls that we deserve to be punished, the best thing we can do is surrender our lives to the purpose of doing good now and in the future.

Become grace to others.

When we have taken life, and we’ve survived, the only way to restore our souls is by giving life back to humanity.

You can do this right now. You can’t undo what you’ve done, but you can choose what you will do now. Put your life into action to do good. Help others. Add back to life. Be unmerited divine assistance and you will see life flow back into your soul.

You are uniquely suited to do this. It doesn’t have to be big acts or reach lots of people. Start with those you see and interact with in your life today. Say something kind. Offer to listen. Help a neighbor with their yard. Refrain from criticizing. Simple things.

And remember, you give back to life because you owe life. Not because the people you impact deserve it. There’s no expectation here for them to thank you, to notice what you do,  or to return the favor.

Become grace and your soul will receive grace.

This is your path of restoration. You make your life’s purpose now to be a source of grace to others. It doesn’t erase what you’ve done, but it does return you to Love and Life.

 

You’ve tried everything you know to do. Meds, therapists who don’t get it, PTSD programs, drinking, getting high, staying overly busy. Some of it has helped alleviate the pain; mostly, you just end up putting up with it all. You would give anything if someone would just come along and help you find a way through this darkness.

If you’re reading this, there is someone who has come along. No, it’s not me. It’s You.

You have not given up on yourself. You googled one more time seeking help. You showed up for your Self.

A wise man once told me: you can only ever be saved by opening to it.

You’re here reading this because you opened. That’s right. Something in you opened, ever so slightly, toward healing and it led you here. Your soul led you here.

Your ability to heal, to resurrect your Self, to find new ways of thinking and being are your responsibility. No one can do this for you. This is sacred work. It takes a commitment to your Self to do it. But you know more about commitment than most people do.

Questions, not answers, lead you to Life

I don’t have all the answers for you. But I do have questions. Life-giving and life-changing questions.

You don’t need anyone to tell you what to think; you do need to uncover what You think. And why you think it. You need to ask and respond to the questions that will lead you toward a better future — where you find the ability to accept what can’t be changed, change what you can, and grow into your wholeness as a human being.

Use these tools to help you find your way

I’ve put together six, free, short-and-powerful guidebooks that you can explore at your own pace. You’ll put yourself back in charge of your life and your post traumatic growth. Reading hard for you? They’re only three pages long and easy to digest.

And they ask questions that your soul needs to explore, so you can get unstuck and keep moving forward.

Start anywhere, or download them all (they’re pdfs) to your device and explore them at your own pace. Have questions? Connect with me on Facebook or by email.

Combat Veteran’s Guidebook Series

Who are you now? 
Combat is a transformative experience. You are not the same person now as you were before.  And that’s okay. You’re not meant to be. Explore questions to discover who you are now and who you want to become. 

It’s all energy & beliefs
Everything is made of energy. Including you. And your thoughts. You understand when your physical energy fluctuates. Your body feels tired, you can’t concentrate, your skill level drops. But did you know that your emotional and mental energy also fluctuates?
It’s all tied together. Body-mind-spirit. You-your environment-people around you-the world. It all impacts how you feel. Explore questions to discover if what you believe still supports you or is keeping you stuck. 

What to do about grief
War takes. You lose people you love because of it. You lose relationship. With others, with your Self. It all hurts like hell. But surprisingly, you may not consider yourself to be grieving. Or even really know what that means. Explore questions to discover how grief shows up for you and what you can do with it. 

Anger, anger and more anger
Anger feels like your best friend. It keeps you comfortable. And safe. It protects you. People leave you alone when you’re angry. You don’t have to feel more vulnerable feelings when you’re angry. Combat veterans are supposed to be angry, right?
Yes. And no. At least, not forever.  Explore questions to discover why you can’t seem to stop being angry and what to do about it.

Coping with those who don’t understand
People annoy you. And they’re going to keep annoying you until you figure out how to change your perspective about them. Civilians do things differently. Have different values. They’re not wrong, weak, or inferior to you. They’re civilians. The people you signed up to protect. That makes them, in a way, yours. So stop hating on them. And start shifting your mindset so you can live peaceably among them. Notice that I did not say you will become a civilian. Explore questions to discover ways to better be understood and what to do when people trigger you. 

Making new choices
You belong to yourself now. Everyone has an opinion on how you should live, but no one has the authority to order you to do it. Not having an authority to tell you what to do can be daunting when you first get out. There are parts of your development of independence that you missed. Making choices about your life may feel confusing even though you’re an adult and you’ve lived more than most people ever will. But you can learn these things quickly, if you have a framework to guide your decisions. Explore questions to discover how to make better decisions and what might be holding  you back.