“Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.”
Often in emails or conversations with other spouses/Veterans via phone, the questions always begin. Much of the time, this makes me nervous because I really don't have all the answers. Disappointing someone with my responses is always a fear that nibbles at the back of my mind, but I always aim to be honest and make sure that they all know there is no "one size fits all" scenario. Questions like "How do I help him?", "How do I do all this?", "How am I supposed to deal with all this?" "How did you get through all this?" and the list goes on. After speaking with another spouse the other night, I went to bed and thought back on the conversation I had with her. I felt in my mind that I gave the God's honest truth and the best answer I could give her, but my heart felt heavy because I wish I could have been more well, sugar coated. Perhaps the years have hardened my ability to slowly pull the band aid off. When it comes to these questions though of how to deal with the war at home, there isn't an answer that is cookie cutter, inside the lines or a straight and clear cut one for any of us.
My best analogy is the sink or swim scenario. Many of us learned to swim with someone holding on to us, directing, and making sure one hand was under us the entire time; much like riding a bicycle with training wheels. Some of us were just thrown in as that was the way they learned, and it was learn to swim or sink. To this day, I remember my father saying "its now or never, girl. You either sink or you swim. There is no time to think about it." I used to as a child think my father to be this hard core, harsh, firm and no nonsense stone of a military man. However, looking back as an adult now, I see his point and it wasn't just about a swimming lesson. It was a life lesson and swim I did. It was the same way when my husband came off the plane; I never looked back. I just kept swimming to any where I could get my feet on solid ground.
With this life we are living, there are no guide books, no training wheels or hands being held underneath us giving us the courage that comes from knowing someone is there to hold on to you while you flail around. We get shoved in head first and never really get a good bearing on the direction we are going; it's just up or down. I can't remember honestly, how I did anything. I thought about this a while last night and all I could come up with was, "how the hell did I do it?". I just did. That's the truth. I think the reason I gained my bearings because we were on a track with a fast coming train coming down on us. With my Veteran and children, it was grab and run while trying to not ever look back. I took my home, what was left of it, and turned it into trenches for safety. I made a fortress out of love, stocked weapons made of patience and the will to keep my family together, all while we watched as the enemy fired upon us. I paid attention and tried to think on all opposing sides, especially that of the enemy, PTSD. I slowly found the courage to take on one fight at a time, choosing my battles wisely and learned from my mistakes. Trust me, there were many and more failures than successes for me. I think though looking back that is what made me even stronger and while I learned, my confidence grew. I learned much from many of those knock downs. I learned what was my limit, what my strength level was and when I needed to walk away. More importantly, I found out what I was truly capable of doing.
"Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm"
There were times there was no hope, and what hope was there was just a stone wall. That changes though as we go along because our point of view, especially that of hope...changes with us. We learn to seek out the only thing we can find and that is to survive, day by day and on our own. Over the past six years, things have come a long way although we are still far off from things being good. There are many of us all looking for that safe place to run to all while questioning if it even exists. Many of us are still fumbling in the dark, looking for some sort of thing that resembles our former lives we all got so comfortable in. Many of us fell behind and just didn't have the strength to keep going. Many have adapted and made a new normal for themselves.
“No man fails who does his best"
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else"
~Albert EinsteinMany of you ask questions in regards to therapy, counseling, taking on a new hobby to fill the gaps of what was our old life. Some want to journal, some want to write or blog and some want to go on to do other things such as starting their own groups, or even non-profits. I encourage each to find their own niche and what's even better, is just when you think things are going all to hell? Life takes a swing and plops down opportunities in your lap and that niche finds you. It's just up to you what you choose to do, but don't second guess that and ignore it. Sometimes in all of that? We find new answers, renewed strength, new hopes and we see much more of ourselves and what we are capable of doing.
“Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them" ~O.S. Marden
Because there is no answer to anything, and this is in any part of life; you simply choose to live or give up. As some of our parents once told us, and for those who are parents now; most us expect nothing more than trying their very best from our children. So why do we find it so hard to expect the same thing from ourselves or our Wounded Warriors? The answer doesn't lie in how do I get through this, how did someone else get through this, or even how do I help someone. It's how do I try to find the first step? You can't climb a rock wall without finding that first rock or ledge, can't read a book unless you start from that first word on the very first page, can't swim until you get into the water and you can't fail unless you never try. No one has a skeleton key to unlock all the doors. We just have to keep trying each and every one, even if it means getting a few slammed in our faces. It's a hard, challenging life we now live but it can be lived. There will be good days, there will be some really bad ones. What you take from each of those, what faith you have in yourself and the Good Lord above along with support from others who are living it too, is what gets you through. Trying to live is better than not living at all. As long as you try, you give your best, the rest of the answers will come to you..........
“No man is beaten until his hope is annihilated, his confidence gone. As long as a man faces life hopefully, confidently, triumphantly, he is not a failure; he is not beaten until he turns his back on life.” ~O.S. Marden