Archive for the ‘Healing from War’ Category

When I was 21, I was bedridden for six months. Stress-induced chronic fatigue, though the specialists at that time didn’t know what was wrong with me. They wondered if it was all in my head. I knew it wasn’t, but since the age of 9 I had highly trained doctors examine me, test my blood and find nothing “wrong.” Even the Mayo Clinic sent me home and told me to just “get in shape.” When people tell you that there’s nothing wrong, and your body definitely is feeling like you have the chronic flu, you feel ashamed. You doubt your own sanity.

Was I depressed? The psychiatrist said no.

For six months I was so exhausted I could only manage to get up, brush my teeth, shower, and go back to bed. With no diagnosis and no idea if I would ever get better, I feared what my future might look like. I was not in college. I could not work. No boyfriend. Marriage and motherhood looked like it would be impossible (who would want a woman who felt the way I did? How would I ever have the energy to have sex? You worry about these things when you are 21). I had my faith in God and that was about it. It would have to be enough. Or so I thought.

During that time, I realized that I had a choice. Resent my life or take back what little power I had and choose my attitude. Could I be ill and kind? Ill and of service? Being of service was core to my soul DNA. I come from a long line of healers, ministers, teachers, doctors, warriors, artists, farmers. Being of service to God and humanity was THE point of being here on earth. (Still is for me. Helping people is what gives me pleasure.)

So, I started to choose every morning. I had to fight negative thoughts and purposely choose to be love, be kind, be happy. I called it “fighting for my day”. But what I was really fighting for was my Self.

It was the first step to changing my life. My circumstances were such that I had grown up and was still living in an oppressive, very controlled, very overburdened home life. I had no Self. My thoughts and my faith were the ONLY things that belonged to me. As a child, I had had no power to change my circumstances. And I was afraid to speak up for my self. Being invisible was safest. The outside world looking in assumed my world was great because it appeared to be full of charity and good works and Christian ministry. Only those of us inside knew the truth.

When I was 16, one brave neurologist became indignant when he perceived what my life was like and he adamantly told me that I needed to have my own life. He confronted my parents and he fought for me. He was right and I hated him for it. Because he threatened my normal family dynamic (raised truths that no one in the family had had the courage to voice) and he put me front and center. By now, I had justified my circumstances with Christian tenets of suffering is holy, obedience is holy, being submissive is holy. Having no Self is holy.

When I was 17, my father was diagnosed with cancer and hospitalized for 10 months before he died. Nearly all of that time I spent living between a hotel attached to the hospital and the oncology ward. Still dealing with my own health issues, I took refuge in my faith and by now, a calling to ministry in Bosnia. My father died when I was 18 and instead of starting my own life, I spent the next six years at home mothering my mother. Being the adult. The only thing I knew (despite no evidence that it would ever happen) was that I was meant to go to Bosnia. God had a purpose for me there. Yes, a war-torn country felt like home to me.

When I was 22, a rheumatologist saved me. She looked at me with compassion, believed that what I was feeling was real, and promised to be there for me. And she was. Her faith and her belief in me gave me strength. She saw that I had a Self and because of her, I began to see it, too.

For the first time, I took control of my life. I enrolled in nursing school, I took photography classes, I joined the worship team at church, I began to put ME first. I made plans to go to Bosnia. I began freelancing as a journalist. And every symptom except chronic neck pain (an issue caused at birth and also from a past lifetime) disappeared.

Had it all been in my head, after all? No. It had all been in my soul and in my energy. My body rebelling against being oppressed by responsibilities no child should carry, my cells trying so hard to fight for me to have a Me. The body knows when truths of our reality are hurting us or are not aligned with our highest good or when we are lying to ourselves and trying to avoid those truths. It will manifest in how we physically feel.

Yes, there are diagnoses that are biological and unchangeable. And there are feelings in the body that also come from what we suppress and hide, from what we disallow ourselves to confront, from not giving our Selves a Self and a voice. For not fighting for our own Selves.

The Divine and guides will show up to help you, but only YOU can give yourself a sense of Self. You have to love your Self as much as you’d love someone else. Your Self is a real being (not another word for selfishness). Your Self needs attention, your own kindness, your own love, your own care. It needs to be put first in your life, so that you can be of service. When you have a strong and deeply loved Self (something I’m still only beginning to develop) you are of service.

Not by action, but by being.

 

 

 

“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. 

 

NOTE: If you are in imminent risk of ending your life, please call 911 or the National Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help. 

Sending you the energy of strength and courage today… may you feel held and wanted. You are not your wounds. You are not your limitations. You are not your reaction to war. You are an eternal being experiencing this lifetime. And there is hope and love for you here.

I’m thinking about the expectations of healing and how those expectations can trip us up.

A warrior’s wounds do not go away, you don’t unbecome or erase what you’ve experienced. It’s woven into the tapestry of your life, just as every experience you have ever had on earth is still part of you.

It’s human nature to want to numb pain or eradicate it. It’s often necessary and life-saving. But everyone thinks there’s a quick fix to all this. That you do the right steps – and it will go away and be done with. Society pushes that expectation because no one wants to deal with the deeper truths of what war does to the human spirit, mind, body.

No one wants to admit that there are no easy answers or solutions. Spirit wounds may hurt less by meds, but meds do not heal wounds of the heart, mind, soul.

These are deep wounds that fundamentally change you. As war should. Healing has to be a choice. First, a decision to stay alive on this earth, to move toward healing. But it cannot be rushed.

The body is a good example of this. There are some injuries that the body can heal and when the body has completed its healing work, you will not notice a difference. But there are other injuries or diseases that permanently alter your body and how you experience life in your body.

When you have spirit wounds (which are the emotional heart wounds of war) you have a combination of wounds that can heal entirely and some that permanently alter you.

When you are permanently altered, you take steps to address the most immediate pain now and also put into place longer-term strategies to adapt to what the changes mean for you.

You understand that it is going to take time, that healing will come slowly, that somethings will never completely go away. But that you are not your wounds. You are not your limitations. You are an eternal being experiencing life on this earth.

If you believe you are an eternal spirit, that death is nothing more than walking from one room into another — then would it not make sense that you carry all of who you are with you, wherever you go?

So many think suicide ends the pain.

What if it doesn’t?

What if the wounds can only be healed by living through them, by moving at the pace of life, the pace of your soul, by letting new thoughts, perspectives, ways of thinking, growth, development, reshaping and redeeming stories, Love hold you — what if that is how wounds become part of your tapestry?

That may or may not comfort you. It is my experience that it takes lifetimes to heal and accept the wounds warriors carry. That death does not erase the pain, guilt, sense of burden, shame, or the bonds of brotherhood.

We are broken through relationship and we must heal through relationship — that includes our relationship with our Selves, with the Divine and all of humanity.

We are broken when the story we are living explodes chaotically and the roles we have in it take us into dark realms of brutality, violence, death-bearing, loss, grief, mistakes.

We are healed when we start to see the stories from different perspectives and when we remember that we are not the stories we have lived.

We are healed when we turn to Divine Love and ask for help to do what we cannot do on our own. I know the mind clamps down and builds a story around what we’ve experienced that feels absolute. We hold onto our beliefs about what we have experienced and what our role was in it (usually with brutal judgment) and often refuse to allow anything to contradict our version.

We can only be saved by opening.

So open, just a crack, and let the thought in that what you are telling yourself, believing wholeheartedly, is not unchangeable.

What happened in the past is unchangeable. The story we hold about it is not. Grace — and by grace, I mean love, forgiveness, letting go of shame/self-punishment — grace is stronger than pain.

So, I invite you, here and now, to let all of this sit with you and let it touch your heart.

You are loved. And you belong here. And there is no giving up on the power of what Love and the Divine can do in your story.

This.

Posted: March 4, 2017 in Healing from War

Don’t give up. You are worth surviving your wounds.

NOTE: If you are in imminent risk of ending your life, please call 911 or the National Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help. 

It all adds up. Accumulates. Pain, trauma, losses. Anger, resentment, guilt. Buries You underneath. You watch your Self vanish, become unrecognizable. And wonder if you’re too far gone to be saved.

Is there such a thing as too far gone to be saved?

You’re tired and it never seems to get better. Your life is permanently altered. You try not to think about it, but you can’t help wondering if it was worth it.

Are you too far gone to be saved?

What you want is relief. An end to the pain, the anxiety, the feeling that ever since you came home you’ve done nothing but disappoint everyone. That you’re failing everyone. Constantly.

Misplaced. Displaced. Misunderstood. Too different. Too angry. Too volatile.

Your love was the battlefield. Your soul is still there.

But you can’t go back. The war is over. Or, rather your war is over.

And you’re so fucking tired of fighting your Self.

Too far gone to be saved?

You see ghosts, or rather, feel them. Hear the voices of those who blew up or bled out. Here one moment, gone the next. Still here though.

Still here.
(there is no gone)

You move through your time now reacting to dangers only you once knew.
Still feel.
Safe now.

Safe. Now.

Too far gone to be saved?

Pills, therapy, band-aids, thank you for your service.
What do they know of where your soul is?

Where is your soul?
Oh, yes. Still there.
There.

Call it back.

Call who?
Your soul.
I don’t know where it is.
Yes, you do.
Call it back to you.
Souls do not die. Souls cannot be too far gone.
There is no too far.
To be saved.
Save yours. Save the only one you can.

Too late.
Too tired. Too far gone.
Too much loss.
Too much heartache.
Too much failure.
Too much being the cause of pain.
Too….
Much.

Too much??
Too much believing you are alone.
Too much blaming your Self.
Too much forgetting that you belong.
Too much holding on to what was.
Too much waiting for someone else to
heal what only you can release.
What only you can allow.
Too much denying that grace is not for you.
For denying grace is a choice.

Too far gone to be saved?

What if death does not resolve what you wish to escape?
What if the only way to end the pain is to stop believing you are too far gone?
What if healing does not mean erasing, but releasing, surrendering your Self
to your Oneness with all beings?
Starting over with new beliefs?
What if the only way out is to dissolve into the Eternal Love that has always held you?
Not by killing your Self, but by loving your Self?

Yes, that Self.
The one you rage against.
The one you infuse with whiskey and nicotine,
chemical oblivion.
The one you berate, hate, reject, blame, shame.
Incriminate. Judge. Condemn.
Punish.

That Self.
The one who wants to be saved.
The one who waits for your kindness.
For you to understand that
You need your own compassion.
More than you need others’.
Tending. Gentleness. Honor.

Honor?

Yes, honor.
Shaming wounds, raging on wounds,
Blaming wounds only keeps you wounded.
There is no shame in being wounded.
War is designed to hurt.
You are designed to live.
You are a warrior who is gifted with the wisdom of death.
The awareness of life.
The ability now to create life from death.
By the power of what you choose to believe.
What you choose to walk toward.
How you love the one who needs your love the most.
You.
In this moment.
In this choice.

Too far gone to be the same?
Yes.

Too far gone to be saved?
Never.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a dark, calm night deep in the forest.

Tucked away in these woods is a spacious tent — tall and wide with wards running off in multiple directions. Cots line these wards as warriors sleep under the watchful guard of Light Beings who grace the aisles. In their presence, a deep peace settles as a gentle breeze softly flows, bringing the breath of life.

It’s cool and quiet and still.

You slip into this tent, crawl into an empty bed, and your presence is noted. You are welcome here. You belong. You are safe.

You drift into a deep dreamless slumber, as every stress, every pain slips away, your entire being completely relaxes. This is the place of high safety. Here, nothing can touch you. Here, all dark forces are kept at bay. Here, you rest.

You remain as long as your soul desires. You may come and go at will. The Light Beings keep guard, soothe broken hearts, lay gentle hands of healing on chests cracked by grief, remove layers of hardened protective energy to infuse new life, move stuck energy in armored stomachs and worn gun hands, soothe clenched muscles and tired minds.

You rest, you are safe, you belong.

Overarching all is the protective spirit of the One Who Walks Beside. Under this care, each one is held, each one is tended…

Each one is found.

I invite you to use this vision whenever you need a place to dwell. When you need comfort and relief. Enter the tent and rest.

 

Finding purpose after the military feels almost impossible, doesn’t it? It’s not that you don’t have skills to translate into civilian work. It’s the underlying sense of why you are doing it that feels so off. Once you’ve been responsible for life and death, millions of dollars worth of equipment, or leading others into and through combat — well, compared to that, most civilian jobs fall flat. They feel insignificant, meaningless, boring. You feel restless, unsettled, empty.

You can’t take someone who has been trusted with life and death, put them in a mundane job and expect them to feel satisfied, right?

Maybe. Or maybe you can.

What if there’s a way to feel purposeful in any job you work? What if there’s a way to live so that it isn’t the job, but you personal mission in life that gives you purpose and meaning?

The only way to find true meaning in work and life is to live your life in a way that serves the greater good.

That’s right. Service. Living an other-focused life.

And you know what? Most of the angst you feel around not having purpose outside the military is because you are no longer living a life of service. That higher mission, that higher calling, that sense that you exist to serve the good of many is missing.

It’s time you put it back into your life.

I don’t care why you joined up or how disillusioned and angry you may be now with the government and society, until you decide to put your life back into service for humanity, you will remain stuck and purposeless.

Why? Because you are a soul who was designed to serve.

You entered the military with a much deeper spiritual calling on your life than you realized. You came here to this earth to allow your life to be used for the good of humanity. When you chose to be a warfighter, you took on some of the greatest depths of experience and responsibility a human soul can agree to. You signed up to be a death-bearer in this world for the purpose of protecting the innocent. And that’s what you did.

But your spiritual calling to serve is not over.

It’s precisely because you have been an instrument of destruction that you have the potential to become a powerful instrument of good, love, life, creation, beauty, joy. You may not feel that you are wise or have a lot of depth and you may not feel any of those things right now (you can get there) — but you know what? You already have what it takes to be this person, right now, in you.

You know more about what makes Life, life — than anyone. Because you were death, you know what life is in ways no one around you knows. Because you have lived through hell, you have the greatest potential to lead others to life. What you have to give to others is an enormous gift of insight, wisdom, understanding, a willingness to be real, to get to the depths of life that so few are willing or know how to dare enter.

You can relate to those who are suffering and in pain. You know how to listen to the deeper truths that can’t be put into words. You know how to be present and show up and talk someone out of fear and into battle.

You know how to be a warrior of the soul. For the soul.

Can you imagine how valuable you could be to someone who is going through a life-threatening time? The kind of support you could give to someone battling cancer, for instance? Or how you could teach your child how to persevere and talk herself into courage when things are tough? Or how you could help teenagers grow into stronger versions of themselves? The possibilities are endless.

But it’s not what you do that matters, it’s why you do it.

To get to living a life of purpose, you have to decide who you are going to be in this world.

How do you make this life I’m talking about?

  1. Own your life. No more excuses. No more blaming. No more self pity. No more bitching. No more complaining about how life sucks. No more toying with the idea of suicide. No more waiting for someone else to make your life better. You were not killed in combat. You are still here.
  2. Decide who are you going to be in this world. Positive? Negative? A believer in good and possibility? A force for life or a hindrance? You going to build or destroy? Look at life with strength and courage or whine and blame and wallow? Brave or coward? The one who makes your life happen or one who waits for someone else to make it happen for you? A leader or a follower? You have to decide these things. They’re your choices. (If you’re too depressed to believe you can change, try to remember what it felt like before you joined the military and you weren’t quite sure you could become what they said you’d become — that’s where you stand right now. You can change your life when you decide to do so and when you take action to change it.)
  3. Face the truths about where you’re at. The only way forward is to start where you are. That means you accept the truths about where you are at right now. Do you have PTSD, a TBI, depression, are you suicidal, do you drink too much, are you abusing drugs, do you have physical injuries that need medical attention, do you need to break up with your partner or turn to them and ask them to help you figure this out? You can’t move forward if you are living in denial or unwilling to move toward healing, wholeness, and wellbeing. Take a small step toward moving your life toward healing. Talk to me if you need guidance on how to do this.
  4. Start retraining your mind. We often think that we have no control over our minds. They do what they want. But while that is true to a large degree, we DO have control over what we believe about life. Our perspective on life, our attitude, is the one thing we can control. You can say no to your mind. You can choose to not go down that familiar path of fear, self-blame, self-abuse that leaves you feeling worthless and wanting out.

    It takes effort, it takes the same determination as working out to build your muscles — you have to commit to it and do it, over and over. When your mind starts heading down that path, become aware of it and say no. It may take weeks, it may take months, but minds can be retrained. Old beliefs can be dismissed. New beliefs can be embraced. Freedom comes when you realize you get to choose the beliefs you’re going to have in life.

  5. Put your life into service. Re-enlist your life into one that exists to serve humanity. This is where you find your purpose. Not your job – your purpose. The why you are here now. Make it your personal mission to be a force of life, of love, of kindness, of generosity, to add more life to this world, to be gentler because you’ve known rough, to be kinder because you’ve known cruel, to lead others to courage. You start with the people you interact with every day. Your mission is to be life in this world now. You are done being death.

When your mission is to be life, to be love, to be kindness, to be courage — then your purpose is to be that. No matter where you are. No matter what job you have. Your purpose will come from within you. And this sets you free to do any kind of job out there that you need to do for financial reasons.

A Marine brother once told me that it doesn’t matter where the government sends you, what battlefield you’re on, where you’re deployed – what matters is that you’re a Marine. Your job is to serve and love your brothers.

You do that wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

On September 11

Posted: September 11, 2016 in Healing from War

A solemn day. As we remember what was taken, what was offered up and sacrificed, what was given freely, what was left on the battlefield, what was brought home. What is still…ongoing.

You were born for this day. Men and women called to the brotherhood, called to rise up and respond with violence so the rest could remain intact.

We focus on what was lost and sacrificed AND we must focus on what, in turn, was gained: souls who know that life is worth defending, a brother’s blood is worth a thousand sleepless nights, ignorance of war at home is worth the inability to forget what you have learned.

Mourn and be grateful today. Only a few who ever walk this earth are entrusted with the ability to carry what you carry. Your truths divide you inside and they make you whole.

Be wholehearted, my warriors. Fight on.

Q: What do you believe plays the biggest role in healing?

Grace. The warrior’s instinct is to fight, to just be stronger, apply more force. Most of the time on the battlefield this is what works. Most of the time at home, this works. Because these struggles are very real battles; they take place now in the mind and spirit. Fighting is necessary. Yet, when it comes to healing, you have to balance that instinctive need to act with more force with a need to allow. Healing happens when we allow it, create the conditions for it, and fight the pain and frustration and temptation to give up during the process. But what the soul longs for is grace.

Before I talk about grace, we have to define healing. Most people define it as a return to how things used to be. They want to be unchanged. They see themselves angry, isolating, pushing loved ones away — and they think “if I can just be like how I used to be” everything will be fine. What they are actually craving is a sense of connection with the softer, gentler, more open parts of their souls. Healing is never about going backwards to what used to be. It is always about new growth. It is about becoming. And ultimately, about reconnecting to a sense that you belong in the human family.

Grace is what the soul longs for, when we get ourselves in these terribly complicated webs of inner shame, regret, anger, when we lose control over our emotions, when we grieve and grieve and grieve the ones we lost, and the parts of us that died with them… it’s grace the soul longs for. And by grace, I mean the sense of absolute acceptance that respects all of who you are, knows all of what you’ve done and witnessed, and still says: you belong.

Who gives us this grace? Christians will tell you God. But I think grace is something we give ourselves and each other.

Q: What is the hardest part for you in the role you play in helping warriors heal?

Sustaining my own belief — in the face of the enormity of the pain my warriors are experiencing. Talking bone-weary men back into battle when my own heart trembles with doubt. Knowing that sometimes, in that moment, I am the only thing standing between life and death. It’s incredibly humbling and shakes me to the core to see, time and again, the divine timing in how someone “just happens” to see an article I read and reaches out and connects — I mean, what are the chances? I believe that every soul led specifically to me is meant to find me. I don’t have magic cures, but I trust that they are talking with me because I am the one they need to talk with at that precise moment in their journey. I trust that implicitly.

And believe me, the joy and fulfillment of serving in this role in this lifetime is beyond compare. This calling is why I am on this earth this time. It is life-giving to me, even in the hardest moments, it is deeply personal for my soul.

Q: If you could sit and talk quietly with a struggling combat veteran, what would you most want that soul to know? 

That he’s not alone in what he’s experiencing. That sense of isolation is pervasive and it kills people. It keeps people from letting others know they are struggling. I hear the same stories, the same symptoms, the same desperation, the same plea for help, the same fear that they are “not normal” — over and over and over from almost every single combat vet I know. If I could just put them all in one room, they would find out every single combat vet they know is going through the same silent suffering. Just knowing others are going through the same experiences helps people feel connected and gives them back a sense of power. “If others I know and respect and love are feeling this way too, then maybe I’m not so abnormal/weak/weird/loser and maybe I can actually find a way to get better. Maybe this is manageable if it’s common. Maybe getting help is okay if others are dealing with this, too.”

Q: How has this journey changed you? 

It continually heals me. I came into this lifetime with this calling. It was always what I was destined to do. I fought it for a while because I got scared — scared that I didn’t have the right to do this work, scared of being responsible for leading people’s souls. For awhile in the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But while fear shouted at me, there was one Marine I was seeing progress with, and all I could think was: “what’s going to happen to him — and all the others like him, if I say no?” I said Yes. It has awakened me to my Self, and stretched my capacity for belief in what’s possible. But mostly, it heals me.