James W.D. Stewart

James W.D. Stewart

Embrace "The Suck"


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While we don't talk about this all that often, there's a real fear within many of us that says if we heal, we'll lose our identities as warfighters.  Fear that healing will cut the ties you have to who you were, who you are, and who you want to be.  Along with it, is a fear that if you move on, it'll somehow mean that you're forgetting and/or leaving your fallen buddies behind — that becoming whole now, will invalidate the sacrifice and suffering that happened.

/blog/2017/05/01/the-identity-of-a-warfighter/

https://forces.army/blog/2017/05/01/the-identity-of-a-warfighter/

The Identity of a Warfighter

Count Words — Reading Time
by James Stewart
Published: 
Updated:  N/A
Location:  Tim Hortons, 465 Barrydowne Rd., Sudbury, Ontario, P3A 3T4, Canada
 

 

While we don't talk about this all that often, there's a real fear within many of us that says if we heal, we'll lose our identities as warfighters.  Fear that healing will cut the ties you have to who you were, who you are, and who you want to be.  Along with it, is a fear that if you move on, it'll somehow mean that you're forgetting and/or leaving your fallen buddies behind — that becoming whole now, will invalidate the sacrifice and suffering that happened.

Let's have a look at this fear — as irrational as it may be.  It's, closely, tied to the experience of having been at your ultimate best in combat and the deflated experience of life after — when you no longer really know and/or feel comfortable, with who you are, as a warfighter in civilian clothing.  Many of us were retired and/or our military careers cut-short — which means that we didn't want to end-up in this civilian life which we now find orselves with.  Some of you chose to get out, but still haven't found anything that can come close to your sense of being a warfighter though.

The pain and grief that we carry inside of us is a tangible tie to an identity that we still feel, we miss, and we never want to lose — good news, we don't have to.  It's also true though, that not all of you carry a warfighter identity.  Some of you are more than happy to return to civilian life — and yet, you also struggle to fit-in.  But, for those of you who know in your heart that you'll always be a warfighter, and that you'll never be better at anything than you were at hunting humans, this fear's enough to stop you cold in your tracks — especially, when it comes to healing.

You're not wrong in being afraid…  Anything, which threatens your identity and sense of self, will become something that you avoid.  Even, when that something's moving into a place of less pain and more joy.  This is why we feel torn.  We've been led to believe that to heal, we must let go of our pain — of everything that we're carrying — and, for us, that means letting go of a part of ourselves, that keeps us being us.  Fuck that shit, eh?

Allow me to show you how this looks.  You're tired of struggling, tired of the weight on your heart getting heavier, tired of being restless, tired of not knowing how to be who you're "supposed" to be now, tired of trying to appear fine, tired of being — you're, simply, fucking tired.  So, you reach for healing — you found this Web site.  You've tried all of the stuff that the VAC and/or your doctor's told you to do.  You, always, end-up where you started.  Things get a little better at times — then, worsen.  Yet, you keep trying and keep looking.  Something within you, desperately, wants relief.

Then you get a glimpse of relief…  And, when it appears as a real possibility — no matter how far-off on the horizon — terror seizes you and you can't move.  You sense that you're losing yourself, shut-down, and pull-back.  Who'll you be if you're not in pain, not carrying this weight, not wounded?  Who'll you be, if healing means that you have to give up everything that you've got left, that keeps you feeling like a warfighter?

Suddenly, life seems safer within the darkness.  You wonder what you were thinking when you thought, that perhaps, you could find some relief.  This isn't what you'd hoped for.  The pain's not so bad, eh?  You've put-up with it this long — you can tolerate it, after all…  It's comfortable.  Sure, it fucking hurts most of the damn time, but it's your pain and you're used to it — it keeps you connected.  It keeps you a warfighter.  You fucking earned this damn pain.  And, only you and your brothers/sisters understand that.  There's no way in Hell that giving up your attachment to your pain could be good for you, eh?  Actually, I don't believe that it is.

So, you decide that if you're already this fucked-up, you might as well stay in a place where you at least know how to navigate it day-in and day-out…  There's comfort in it.  Perhaps, it's just who you're meant to be.  Warfighters are nourished by the darkness and hate…  If you're a warfighter, then you understand this.  You feel more alive and connected, to the darkness and hate, than you'll ever feel to the light.  You're not, even necessarily, sure if you believe in the light.  You're not sure that you even want to look for the light.  Part of you does, at times, but you thrive within the dark though…  It's yours…  It keeps you a warfighter.

So, you feel torn — darkness, freedom, light, pain — carrying wounds of battle as a warrior.  Healing and moving on as a, gulp, "civilian" — within your heart, you'll never be a civilian.  You know that you should heal, you know that you should move into the light, part of you even longs to — but, not if it means leaving this brotherhood, of hate and rage, that keeps you belonging as a warfighter.  You take steps forward, something — this — holds you back.  So, you find a way to rationalize giving-up on ever feeling whole inside again.  You decide to just stay as you fucking are.

The question is, can you heal and still live within the dark?  Can you heal and still embrace the hate?  Can you remain a warfighter and not be in pain?  Personally, I believe that we can.

Healing's not about letting go — as much as everyone pushes that idea.  It's not about having to open-up and share your wounds with others — athough, that can be very cathartic.  Healing's all about what you think of, and the meaning that you give to, your pain.

So, let's say that you decide to allow your wounds to heal.  Yes, you must decide to — and, yes — you must allow it.  What if, you could heal, and never have to let go of what happened?  What if, by creating some new meaning around your experiences, you could think new thoughts that would bring you peace?

So, you'd continue to carry the experiences, but not the hurt.  You'd continue to honour the experiences, the fallen, and the sacrifice.  While, at the same time, you'd become alright with feeling joy and/or beauty and/or a sense of being whole.  Your pain's given new meaning and context, the hurt eases, and it remains part of the fabric of who you are.

Too many healing "therapies" out there, are designed, to get you to expose and give-up your pain — to let go, to neatly strip you of being a warfighter.  Let's face it, most civilians are scared shitless to walk into the darkest interior of a warrior's heart, where killing humans feels good — and, into being a good, tame, don't-scare-us civilian.  You'll never be a civilian in your heart and there's no fucking reason why you should have to either.

You get to decide who the fuck you are.  You get to decide what your pain means to you.  You get to decide that you can be a warfighter, can embrace the hate, can live within the darkness — and, at the same time, you can heal the wounds so that the pain's gone — and, only scars remain.  You can take the energy of hate and funnel it, into something that serves a purpose, which means something to you.

Civilians tend to do us warfighters a huge disservice when they start to define what healing looks like for us — instead, of allowing us to say what it would feel like to be whole, and plotting a path to get there.  We do ourselves a disservice, when we allow the fear of losing ourselves, to keep us from becoming whole.

What would wholeness feel like to you?  What would your life look like, if you could openly embrace your warfighter identity, now?  Where could and/or would you funnel that energy?  How could and/or would you take the values which you embrace as a warrior, and apply them, to make an impact in the world?  What would your heart feel like, if it didn't hurt so much, and it still carried the full sense of what happened?  What can you do, today, to create your own definition of wholeness?

You, must, decide…

 
Categories:  Health, Lifestyle  
Tags:  How to, MyCAF, News, Opinionated, Self, The Suck

 
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Creative Commons Licence :: BY-NC-SA James W.D. Stewart by James Stewart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.  Based on a work at https://github.com/jwds1978/jwds1978.github.io.