Archive for the ‘Rage’ Category

Okay, so the words themselves mean the same thing in your mind. Fucked up. Pain. Shit. Issues. Doesn’t matter what you call it, right? Who cares?

What if how you think of it is keeping you stuck?

No, I’m not being “a writer” here and picking on words. On the surface, it doesn’t matter how you refer to the changes in yourself after combat. What matters are your beliefs about those changes. And your beliefs about those changes often show up in how you refer to yourself.

So, what I’m really after here is this: do you judge/blame/hate yourself for the changes in you? If so, you’re gonna stay stuck.

Why? Because as long as you judge yourself and feel like you should have been stronger, that you’re a pussy for letting anger/anxiety/distrust overtake you, that you should somehow have been able to avoid getting hurt, and be strong enough to overcome this alone now — you’re going to hold yourself away from healing.

As long as you think of yourself as fucked up, instead of wounded, you’re not going to give your heart/mind/body/spirit the acceptance and grace and support it needs to transform, heal and release you from the pain.

It comes down to what you believe. Judging/hating/blaming yourself for being wounded means you don’t really believe you should be affected by what you’ve been through in combat. You may know logically that war should change a human being, but you hold yourself to a standard that makes you feel weak or like a failure for seeing those changes in yourself. If this is you, you have a hard time not feeling ashamed for the pain and struggles you experience. Thinking about it doesn’t just hurt, it makes the cruel voices in your head start calling you names and bashing you for being “fucked up”. You think of your wounds, and your sense of self-worth plummets. The weight of feeling like a failure hurts more than the war itself. So, you try to avoid this by avoiding anything that reminds you that you’re not okay.

That keeps you from the liberating self-acceptance you need to heal.

Those of you who grew up with fathers with untreated PTSD, grew up walking on eggshells, yelled at, sometimes beaten, scolded for being soft and not stronger, disallowed to show “weak” emotions like crying, and promising yourself that you would never be like him. Some of you even joined the military subconsciously wanting to prove to yourself (and him) that you were indeed tough, that you “are a man”, that you could take it, and that you could be stronger than he’d been. The challenge wasn’t just something you craved, your sense of self-approval depended on it.

So, to see the same rage, anger, distrust, anxiety, fear of crowds, avoidance of people, strange sleep patterns, drinking, startle reflex, and insecurity now in yourself is excruciating. And you hate it. And you hate yourself for being this way, for being “weak.” For being changed.

But you don’t know what to do or how to change it. So you do your best to manage, try to not think about it, and withdraw into a world where you cut out anyone or anything that reminds you that you’re “fucked up”. Yes, you avoid the sense of failure, and you live increasingly alone in a disconnected world. Resigned to spend the rest of your life just putting up with this shit.

See what I mean by stuck?

By contrast, if you see yourself as wounded because you are a human being and war is supposed to hurt, you remove the judgment. When your wounds are not tied to your sense of worth, you do not blame yourself for your condition, and you open yourself up to the forces of healing.

Every warfighter worth his weight should come home with deep spirit wounds. If you didn’t, you haven’t truly known combat.

Being changed by war is a sign of honor. There is no weakness in it. Yes, it fucking hurts your heart. Yes, it changes your sense of self. Yes, it creates problems you never imagined you’d have to endure. Yes, it leaves you different than the civilians you now live among. But shouldn’t it?? If you took on the call of a warfighter, and you went through hell, why would you expect anything less than to come home with scars?? Scars whose very existence is because you acted with extreme courage and selflessness. The only way for you to have avoided being wounded by combat is to never have been in it.

(Our society’s attitude toward warfighters also fuels a sense that there’s something wrong with you; we should be embracing warfighters for the beauty of their scars.)

If you change how you think about your pain, and stop believing that you should have been stronger (what would that have meant anyway?) you create a place within you where you can begin to heal.

How? By accepting the fact that you are not fucked up, you are wounded. Wounds are not failures. Wounds are not to be ashamed of.

You didn’t get wounded because you were a coward or weak or failed. Quite the contrary.

It’s OKAY to be wounded.
It’s what you should be if you’ve been in combat.

There is nothing weak about you.

In reality, wounds are opportunities for growth, for transformation, for healing. Will you always be scarred? Yes. But scars are signs of growth, survival and life. Wounds can heal when you stop judging yourself by them.

You need to see yourself with compassion.

You wouldn’t judge a buddy for being in the pain you are in. You wouldn’t shame or blame or call him a pussy because he witnessed and created some of the most intense suffering in humanity and came home angry and grieving and changed. You wouldn’t write his nightmares and anxiety off as being “fucked up”, would you? No. You’d love him. You’d be there for him. You’d remind him that he’s no less the warfighter now than he was then.

This is just a different battle, guys. And it’s one you can transcend and win, when you choose acceptance and realize that only by understanding and believing that it’s okay to be wounded, can you get unstuck.

You come home from combat angry.

Stupid shit sets you off. You lash out at people you care about only to see pain and fear flash through their confused eyes. Sometimes you start fights on purpose. Usually, you just react. A stupid driver makes you snap, before you know it you’re in a blind rage. In that moment, you don’t feel anything else and you don’t give a fuck. When you manage to be in a good mood, one small attitude, a word, a tone from someone flips the switch and there you are again.

Why the fuck are you so angry? After all, you made it home, you’re supposed to be all right and happy now, right? Isn’t that what everyone around you thinks? It hurts to know that you’re causing people pain. You don’t mean it, but they don’t understand that you don’t mean it. And you don’t know how to stop being this way. That anger keeps pushing people away from you. It’s natural for people to retreat from your anger and self-protect. Or get mad back and then you’re trapped in a cycle of conflict where no one is happy. They point at you and say it’s your fault because you’re so damn angry all the time. And you blame them because they seem to make you angry. And before you know it, you’re left alone in your world.

One of the most painful things about coming back is not being able to recognize yourself because what you feel and how you act now is so different from who you used to be. And so different from who you want to be. The softer and more tender your heart was before combat, the harder it is to not hate yourself for this change. I have talked with many vets who tell me that anger is one of their biggest problems, yet they don’t seem able to connect the dots back to where this anger comes from. Or know what to do with it.

So, let’s explore.

First off, why are you so angry?
Let’s get one thing clear: it’s not the people and things around you now that are the true cause of your anger. They are triggers. They could be anyone or everyone. They can be intentionally hurting you or they can be loving you. But they are not the source of your deep anger. Even when unkindness, selfishness or lack of understanding causes them to treat you without regard, the intensity of your anger is still rooted elsewhere.

It’s about power, control and vulnerability…
The deepest root of your anger comes from having been ultimately powerful and utterly powerless in the face of life and death. It comes from having lived with the energy of death and death itself. From having had your life threatened, from having ended people’s lives and from having killed parts of yourself in the process. At a very deep level within you, you carry the spiritual responsibility of having been a death-bearer and that responsibility has a lot of implications for your spirit. It changes how you relate to the world.

What happens in combat is that you are up against the ultimate extremes in power, control and vulnerability. Anytime we human beings feel out of control over things we believe we should be able to control, we get angry and/or depressed. The decisions that get made in combat and the circumstances you find yourself in test your power, control and vulnerability to the limits. And it’s not all about killing. You can be just as angry at the suffering you have witnessed –suffering you may not have caused at all– and feel a sense of responsibility because you weren’t able to prevent or stop it. This includes issues with bad leadership and internal bullying as well. The less control you felt you had the angrier you will be.

  • What to do about it: You need to recognize that you’ve experienced these intense fluctuations of power, control and vulnerability. Spend some time thinking about what was actually in your control and what wasn’t. What do you feel you should have had control over? Where and when did you feel powerless? What do you need to own as your own responsibility and what are you owning now that is NOT yours to own? The anger will persist as long as you are holding on to beliefs that you could or should have had more power and control than you did. So, the ultimate goal to walk toward are beliefs that allow you to accept that the energy of war was stronger than you.

 

It’s also about grief…
I’ve said it many times and I will keep saying it: combat veterans are primarily grieving when they come home. Grief causes anger. Not intentional anger, but anger that accumulates and erupts because the pressure of grief has to go somewhere and it tends to go to tears and anger. You’re not just grieving the loss of people you loved, you’re grieving at a much deeper level of humanity… grieving the power, control and vulnerability issues, grieving the loss of innocence to the darkest parts of humanity within yourself, grieving from the suffering you caused and witnessed, grieving the loss of the beliefs and concepts that shaped your worldview and perspective on life, grieving time lost with loved ones, relationships and trust lost, loss of your military career (in many cases), loss of a culture and way of life you’re used to, and loss of yourself.

All this grief hurts. It feels like pain and depression, sadness, numbness, emptiness and… anger.

  • What to do about it: Our society is not going to give you the recognition or permission to grieve. You’re going to have to do that yourself. Which means you step back and realize the depths of what you have lost and you stop telling yourself that you shouldn’t be this way. Then you give yourself permission to know that it is okay and right that you allow yourself to grieve. If you try to suppress it, hide it, push it deeper down inside you, ignore it… it will just keep erupting as anger. It’s not going to go away on its own.


And it’s about physical changes in your energy, body and lack of sleep…
If you feel as if your nerves are frayed and worn thin, it’s because they actually are. The stress and reaction patterns that your body underwent in combat create changes in your energy and body. PTSD involves biological changes where your nerves have been rewired to react to threats. This creates changes in your emotional energy system as well. Those changes are real. Physical pain eats away at emotions. Sleep is also directly tied to emotional control. And we all know how well most combat vets sleep… erratic, short bursts with very poor quality due to nightmares, drinking and meds. Lack of sleep makes it very hard to control emotions. (Think about little kids, when they get crabby they’re usually overtired. Same thing happens to adults.)

There are other causes of anger, but these are the primary ones that most combat vets experience.

So what do you do to deal with your anger?

Let people near you know why. You don’t have to tell them the details, but you can’t hold people accountable for what they don’t know. And if they don’t know that you lost buddies you love and are grieving, they won’t be able to offer you compassion or see you in a light that allows them to understand. Now, I know many of you say you don’t want anyone feeling sorry for you. Allowing people to offer their support by giving them a chance to understand what’s going on with you, is not a sign of weakness. I know most people are not going to get it, but if they never know, they most certainly will never get it. Tell your closest ones that your anger comes from feeling bad about what happened in the war and because you miss the buddies you lost. You don’t have to share details, but give them something to work with. Same for colleagues. This way, if you break down at work (and it’s gonna happen), they’ll have some context as to why.

Find a constructive way to vent. Anger is energy. And you need to move that energy out of you consistently. Don’t go walking down the wrong side of town looking for a fight. Find something physical to do that is safe and do it on a regular basis. Buy a punching bag, chop wood, take a sledgehammer to scrap metal, work out, play sports, learn martial arts… anything that will let you safely express that energy. Sometimes you also need to vent verbally…stop screaming obscenities at your loved ones, find a buddy you trust and vent. If there is no one, remove yourself from the scene and take some time alone. Learn how to calm yourself down with breathing techniques so you can think. Try writing shit down. Open a Word doc and just vent. The point is the more you express the stuff underneath your anger, the less need your spirit has to erupt and explode to find relief.

(You have a choice: numb it out or get it out. You numb it out you’ll feel better in this moment. You get it out, you’ll feel better long-term. The choice is yours.)

Let yourself grieve. Expressing your pain hurts. Don’t be scared of it. It seems as if it will overwhelm and crush you, but that’s only if you don’t find ways to get new perspectives on it (which is the true value of good counselors). If you feel like crying, cry. Yes, I know it’s embarrassing if you tear up at work or on campus, but it happens unexpectedly. Take a few moments for yourself alone and let the tears fall. Those tears are a natural part of the healing process. They relieve pressure and move the energy of sadness and pain out of you. Crying doesn’t come easily to many of you, but it’s a human emotion and a necessary one. And your spirit needs it to heal.

Identify triggers and find work-arounds. If you can figure out what triggers you, look for things that would help distract you in those moments. If you lose sight of what matters most to you while you’re driving, try putting a photo of what you stand to lose on your dashboard. Find an object that helps you ground (by grounding, I mean reconnect to this present moment) and keep it with you. This could be photo of a loved one, a small stone, a bracelet, a pendant/necklace. If you know certain situations trigger you and they are ones you don’t have to keep getting into, avoid them. If Facebook posts keep setting you off, unfollow those who post them. Look for what you can control, take that control and own it.

Decide to let go. Eventually, you’re going to move through enough time in the grieving process where you’re going to face a decision to either hold on to the pain and grief, or let go and move on. This isn’t something you can do until your spirit is ready for it — so don’t think I’m telling you that you can just decide to stop being angry and it will work. That’s not how it happens. You won’t get to this point until your spirit has absorbed all the meaning that your pain has to offer and, like someone who has been carrying a heavy weight, you will realize that you can actually choose to set that weight down and it won’t mean that the weight isn’t valuable and it won’t mean that you’re “forgetting” or saying that it didn’t matter. You will be able to decide to set the weight down and leave it there and you will know that it’s okay to not carry it anymore. It can feel scary at this point, because you won’t really know what happens if you don’t pick it up again, or who you will be if you’re not carrying that weight…you choose faith and trust here and the relief your spirit and entire being will feel, will encourage you forward.

Remember you’re not a bad person because you’re angry. You’re a wounded one. Your heart hurts. You carry a spiritual (not religious) understanding and weight that the people around you do not. Trying to act as if you don’t have all this pain and grief in your being only makes things worse. If anger makes you feel ugly, it’s because you can’t see past it into your essential being… which is love and light and a relationship with dark that only warfighters understand.

Finally, get help. You didn’t get into this condition on your own. You won’t get out of it on your own. You need to get help. And if you don’t find it at the VA, don’t give up. You can work through your grief, PTSD can be treated, your heart and spirit can heal. It takes acting with courage and determination. And support. That’s why I’m here. To walk you through this journey and to not let you give up.

The first step, though, is to decide that you’re not going to stay stuck here anymore.

 

 

 

Stop Letting ISIS Control You

Posted: September 3, 2014 in Courage, Fallujah, Iraq, PTSD, Rage

The situation with ISIS is beyond infuriating. Their actions are designed to incite rage and blatantly offend the warfighter and the goodness within you. Their presence, however, is not surprising. In the big picture of the world, they are a miniscule force, creating havoc in a place that, for the most part, no one in the world gives a shit about. The fact that you do give a shit about it is because you sacrificed part of the goodness within you on that land. You lost brothers there. You left a part of yourself there that you can’t get back and ISIS is trampling that part of you into the ground. And laughing as they do. And you have no way to physically lash back now.

So here you are. Hands tied. Unable to solve this. And anger, rage, hatred, disgust and frustration course through you, set your nerves on fire, interrupt your days and nights, taunt you. You scream at a government who isn’t making the decisions you would make in their place. The same lawmakers who made the decision to send you there.

Your anger is right and justified.

Let me gently ask you this. In the big picture of your life, here, today… where you have no power to change the situation there…how much of yourself, your energy, your power, do you want to keep giving to ISIS? Now is the time to look hard at your life, at the reality of what you can control and what you can’t control and decide if giving them control over your emotions and mind… well, could that be exactly what ISIS wants from you?

Your anger is right and justified. But does it hurt ISIS or does it just hurt you?

I know you can come back to me with concern that ISIS will not and is not contained to foreign soil, that there is greater threat than the public realizes, that we are standing by as thousands are murdered (thousands are murdered in other places in the world, but we aren’t looking there), that this might happen or that could happen… and yet, fear and rage can be all that ISIS has to do to win. Stop letting them win. If the government wills to defeat ISIS, they will be defeated. But you can defeat them first by letting them stop having control over your heart. Is that easy? No. Hell, no.

Is it what is best for you, and your life, and your heart, here and now? I’ll let you decide.

The public hears about Fallujah falling back into terrorists’ hands and it’s a blip on their stream of distraction. They don’t give a shit. You hear it and it puts into question the reason why you continue to pay a high price for Iraq 24 hours a day. Why your life is what it is now.

It cuts deep because you love your brothers. Those who remain, those who died there, and those who have died since because they were there. They are not just names on a memorial list (names most of the public will never know or remember), they are vivid, real people. You remember the sound of their laughter, their jokes, how they were there for you, the stories they shared with you, how they pissed you off. You knew them better than anyone else–at a soul level. And they knew you the same.

You love them still.

The possibility now that their deaths and what you went through and continue to go through could have been in vain is devastating.

The public has the perception that soldiers die in combat like they do in films. En masse or that nameless warriors get shot and die, the action keeps going and the “hero” is unaffected. Rarely in a film do the deaths of warriors impact the storyline. The public perceives the military in an impersonal way.  They do not see (or try to imagine it in terms of their own lives) the real, personal, close bonds you have.

The public doesn’t know that your life, your heart, your mind, your spirit is forever changed because of your combat experience. They don’t know that you didn’t come home and just leave it all behind, as they might leave one job and move on to the next. You live with PTSD, nightmares, chronic lack of sleep, feeling unsafe, anxiety attacks; TBI, memory loss, trouble concentrating, trouble reading; chronic physical pain, bad back, neck, knee, headaches; can’t be in crowds, feel isolated, feel as if you no longer belong because you are so changed, and have to deal with anger, grief, and high levels of loss on so many levels. Every day. Every night.

You can’t separate yourself from Iraq even if you wanted to. It’s part of who you are.

This means that when something like this happens in Iraq, you are faced with having to answer what the whole thing means to you on a very personal level. It’s not just about political opinion. It’s about your identity, your sense of worth, and the purpose for your life now.

As you search for an answer that makes sense to you, here are a few things to contemplate:

1. You had a job to do then, you did it, you did it well, and it was done.

2. You cannot predict future outcomes after any war, in any land. Ever.

3. Warriors do not choose their wars. The “purpose” is not your decision.

4. Purpose is a perception. Victory is a perception. Perceptions can be changed.

5. What happens after a war does not change the meaning of what you did or tried to accomplish during a war.

6. Warriors who die in battle, die honorably and loved. The honor of their deaths does not depend on the outcome of the battle/war (which is unknown at the time of their deaths).

7. Each life is meaningful no matter what the reason one dies.

8. Nothing can change the love you have for your brothers.

The one thing that stands out to me and I keep coming back to is Love. You fought for your brothers. They fought for you. Love bonded you together then, it bonds you together now. Love.

And that Love extends to you. Here. Now. Today.

Was it worth it?

That’s a question only you can resolve in your heart. What I do know is that we can’t see the big picture. The big picture of these events in human history. The big picture of these events in the course of lives and families and cities and cultures. We can’t see the individual lives whose paths have been altered because you were there. Or the hope that you inspired. Or the the shift in perspective that occurred because you were there.

What if one heart, one life, was blessed or saved or given hope because you were there?

One life, broken, only to be blessed in ways you could never imagine?

Is one life worth it?

Would it be worth it to you if you were that “one” person?

There’s a perception out there that it’s not okay to express sadness, fear, uncertainty, loss, or guilt. They make you vulnerable, they leave you exposed, they give your power away, right? Anger is okay, though. Anger represents a form of power, though it often is a cover emotion for all of the ones that aren’t acceptable.

For many combat vets, rage is the only “safe” place to funnel the deep emotions of war. Blind rage — that boils over for no apparent reason or the tendency to have much stronger reactions to things that normally wouldn’t bother you — is often the soul crying out to release what it’s holding inside. The problem is rage can lead to violence and creates distances in relationships when what you need most is acceptance and love.

Lashing out when your soul is wounded is a natural reaction to a sense of being out of control over your life or past.

Anger, rage, lashing out are challenging, but normal effects of war. The tricky part is that loved ones have a hard time understanding where that deep anger is coming from and why you’re directing it at them. (And you may not be able to explain why either.)

Many combat veterans hide just how vulnerable and uncertain they feel after war. The questions, the loss, the grief, the way they miss war as much as they hate it, the not fitting in anymore, the strange gaps that exist in relationships at home — it’s convoluted, and messy, and no one wants to admit to being a mess. Because, god forbid, you go to war, kill people, nearly get killed, experience the sudden loss of friends to intentional violence, feel both immense power and utter powerlessness at the same time, have shifting perceptions as to what the whole point of it is, escape death, then come home to a silent, blessedly mundane life where you’re supposed to forget all that happened and just be happy making money, getting your education, paying the mortgage — and, no, you wouldn’t have reason to be a bit angry, would you?

**Deep breath**

The point is rage is normal. And it’s more a symptom of other unexpressed emotions than of true anger itself. Yes, there is real anger involved. Anger over what you’ve lost, over how you have to fight with the VA for your rights, anger over what you did or didn’t do, anger over being so fucked up now and anger at yourself for not being stronger than you’d thought you’d be. Anger has a real and valid place.  But sorting it all out can seem too much work and too exhausting, especially when you don’t know where to begin and no one really wants to hear about this dark side of you anyway, right?

So, what are you supposed to do? How do you handle rage and difficult emotions after war?

  • Recognize that you haven’t become a “monster” – your spirit needs attention and it’s acting out to get you to realize that. You can’t emerge from war unscathed. It has changed you. It’s time to accept that you’re not who you used to be. And there’s no going back. The person you are now is someone who is going to become someone new, but the war will always be a part of you. It’s time society woke up and realized that the expectation that you would be unchanged by something as powerful as war is both absurd and stifling. That expectation prevents you from healing. Because if no one acknowledges that there’s something to be healed, the healing will not occur. Don’t let this belief do that to you.
  • It’s your life and while you may feel lost, you are still the only one who can choose to set upon a path toward healing. No one is going to do it for you. There are people, services, organizations, books, therapists, alternative healing practices out there — but unless you choose to connect and explore possibilities for healing, none of them will do you any good. What works for some, may not work for you. But there is a path for you if you keep looking.
  • Healing vs coping. I believe the human spirit is capable of experiencing healing and regeneration. Freedom and growth come when we change our thoughts and embrace new beliefs. But there are some aspects of war wounds that may never fully disappear and may need long-term methods of coping and adapting. While managing PTSD symptoms may be your first priority, the underlying goal is to find the healing your soul needs in order to create a new sense of wholeness and well-being.
  • Honor your own spirit as much as you’d honor a fallen brother. You know how to do this. Most likely you took part in memorial ceremonies and special acts of remembrance that honored the ones you lost. You’ve felt that deep respect for them. What you need now is to give that kind of respect, empathy and grace to yourself. Your wounds are honorable, natural, and they deserve respect.  I know if you’re hurting, “honor” is the last thing you’re thinking about. You’re just trying to cope, to numb out, to ease the pain so you can function and get through another day and night. What I’m talking about here is really an attitude. An attitude where you give yourself a break, you acknowledge your pain is real and valid, you recognize and respect your mind, body, and soul for what it’s endured and for how it’s protected you (even if you hate the methods it’s chosen) – and you start toward healing from a place of reverence and respect for your life.
  • Break the silence. Share your story. Find a safe place where you’ll be accepted and not judged no matter how devastating or traumatic your story is. I know it’s not easy. Your fellow warriors know where you’re coming from, and while they can provide you much needed camaraderie and support, they may not be able to lead you down a healing path, unless they’ve walked the path ahead of you. You need someone with deep spiritual wisdom, compassion, and a strong belief in you. Someone willing to carry your story with you while holding you to your own ability to heal. You need to confide. Lay it all out. Let that person hold you in a healing embrace and trust that your story won’t break them. Words are powerful. Stories that are kept inside often lose power when they are expressed in words. So take a chance and share your story.
  • Find a method to express what you’re carrying inside. Sharing your story through words is foundational to healing, but you also need to express how you feel about your story and what you’re carrying inside. (Don’t be put off by all this talk of “feelings” — the fact is, you have them and they’re giving you trouble.) Stories are made of facts, actions, events. They tell what happened to you or what you did, they don’t necessarily express how you feel about it.  Those feelings are going to come up again and again. They need to be validated, expressed, released. But you don’t have to use words. Creative arts, music, gaming, sports, working out, volunteering, spending time in nature — can all become part of your healing process. The point is to find something non-destructive that you can turn to whenever you need to release pent up thoughts and emotions. Art and creative writing are particularly powerful because you use your hands and heart to bring something into being. You don’t have to be an “artist” or a “writer” to try painting, sculpture, woodcarving, drawing, storytelling. The goal is to pour the energy of your emotions into the form.
  • When blind rage emerges, breathe. Realize where it’s coming from, disengage from the person you’re with, breathe in, breathe out. Thoughts run wild and irrational when rage flows, breathe. When you’ve calmed a bit, have a look at what’s running through your mind. Try to replace those negative thoughts with more logical, factual ones. If you know your rage is coming from a place that needs healing, you’ll start to see your reactions in a different light. The dots will start to connect. You may still need to learn some anger management techniques to find ways to cope, but at least you’ll have a better idea of where that rage is coming from and why you’re experiencing it.

The people around you won’t know why you’re angry unless you find a way to explain it to them. Print off this article and share it with them or recommend this site to them to help them understand where you’re coming from. (If you are a family member, or want your family member to talk with me, I’m more than happy to do so.) When people know that anger comes from a place of unresolved pain, they are far more understanding and see you in a different light. Not to be pitied, but understood. Unfortunately, you may have to be the catalyst to help them gain that understanding. But if you love them, they deserve the chance to realize what’s going on with you.

I know this post is getting long, but the one thing I didn’t mention is crying. Tears are a natural form of emotional release. Children and most women know this instinctively. The concept of men crying gets all tied up in cultural beliefs and expectations of what is means to be a man. But crying is a human response of the heart and spirit. And whether you are okay crying in front of others or not, it really is okay to cry. If you’re embarrassed, cry in private. If you’re worried that once you start crying you won’t be able to stop, don’t worry. You will when your heart has released everything it needs to. You’ll breathe again, you’ll smile again. We’re made of energy, and crying is a form of releasing energy.

Rage, difficult emotions — they’re part of the process. Don’t let them define you. Claim your right to heal.

If you want to confidentially share your story, vent, get things off your chest, and receive soul-level support, please reach out. Life is too short to walk your path after war alone.