“These two things fight together in me as the snakes fight in the spring. The water comes out of my eyes; yet I laugh while it falls. Why?”
How do I not take this home. How do I not let what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard, affect me. What box do I put it in. I cannot process what I am looking at. There strewn across the street and plastered upon the compound walls, the piece of children no older than 8. Their limbs and remaining torsos remain as the only totem to once was life. Their eyes, some closed, some staring into the sky as their little chests heave with the last gasps of air. Not five minutes earlier, they were full of life, playing soccer in the street. The evils of man do not regard life, they put an IED in a satchel and sent the small boy to the embassy. Their timing was off, they did not account for the child to want to join in on the soccer game on his way to his destination. This bomb meant for us, placed on a child, and children its only victims. The children can’t be seen without my own children’s faces upon them. How do I process this, how do I come to terms with what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard. I will not be coming back. I am done going overseas.
I was made for war. It is an intrinsic gift that God has given those men set apart from society though I am kind and gentle, caring and quiet. My affinity to perform extreme acts of violence is without hesitation. Taking a man’s life or that of the other sex, regardless of the age, to prevent evil and harm on others, is without hesitation. I live to protect humanity, men, women, and children, Americans, and abroad. My gift is this, to selflessly serve, and stand ready to commit violence on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. However, there is a price. This price has plagued the warrior society since the beginning of time. You cannot see the depravity and depths of evil man is capable of, and be willing to meet that evil at its heart and impose your will and affinity for violence upon those evils, without it affecting you psychologically, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
There are those who enjoy the safety of a victim mentality, allowing them to not come to terms with what they have done or seen. To live in this state of ignorant bliss, “I am broken, disgruntled veteran.” “I have PTSD” the lines and excuses for their inability to accept there own behavior. Every true warrior I have known, who has truly been tested in the crucible of combat, does not accept these excuses. They live humble and quiet lives, they are kind, giving, empathetic, the greatest of friends. They make no excuses for their actions, own their mistakes, open about their struggles, and live their life to the fullest, striving to not allow the consequences of war to affect their lives.
Though I have ruined relationships, my marriage, jobs, friendships, my life at one point because of my TBI affecting my emotional state, communication, cognitive, physical and spiritual abilities I am not a victim; nor do I use that as an excuse. My decisions were my own, my inability to communicate, understand and perceive social nuances, cues, daily tasks and thing that were once easy and normal, etc. Were brought on by yes, my TBI, but because I was too prideful to seek help, to accept my injuries, to get treatment, and fight my injuries with the same volition I met the enemy.
Since getting treatment, I am met with regrets, shame, and disappointment in myself that I did not seek treatments sooner. How many relationships, friendships, my marriage, jobs, etc. could I have saved, not lost, not ruined, if I only would have known what I know now? I can only move on from here, keep moving forward, accept the things as they are, not blame anyone or anything for my mistakes, and learn how my “new me” operates and functions. I work on my communication, social, cognitive, and mental states. I will not allow these circumstances to change who I am or people to change who I am.
The world is already filled with enough evil and selfish men, I will not change myself because people only know sadness, evil, and selfishness, or because of their own traumas they cannot comprehend true love and kindness. It is my lot in life to serve, it is not a catch phrase. I truly live to serve. I always am pouring out my cup for others even if it hurts me or gets me into situations like I am. I am not mad at those people, in fact, I hurt more for them that they can justify their actions in their head because of the pain and trauma they have been through. The result of doing so leaves my own cup empty and that battle of giving off of IOU’s that I owe to myself, without my cup ever being filled is a battle of its own. But I refuse to change who I am.
So many times people use their own circumstances and trauma, to justify their actions. While yes those things affect us and how we perceive the world we must battle those as we battle the enemy. We must accept what has been done or we have gone through, and learn to recognize how it has affected us. This allows us to make volitional choices to prevent ourselves from becoming victims of those circumstances. We must seek out the truth, “The Truth always terrifies, Timid Men.” ~Michael Kurcina, we must seek out kindness, selflessness, humility, empathy, seek out the things that are anomalies in this world.
There is too much pain, selfishness, anger, hate, evil, in this world. We must not let what is common and rampant to discourage us from being good men. The phrase “If not me, then who?” should not be only to go to battle, but to be held in our personal lives. I will not allow evil and sadness and the hurt of this world to drag me down with it. If not me then who, in a world with so much brokenness, if I allow myself to become broken with it, then who will be the light? Who will continue to be kind, and generous, selfless and give unconditional love, despite its constant rejection and perception as weakness, because people do not know how to deal with, process, or understand such things? Because they themselves have only known sadness, hurt, being used, abused, taken advantage of, pain, and all the other things this world throws their way, they hurt others. We must stand fast in who we are, our principles, our hopes for better things, and be that example of goodness.
It is not our fault people cannot comprehend those things, or they themselves find comfort in being victims and accepting their own actions. That should not change who we are, as society needs good men and women. It is a draining fight, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually but God has given us these virtues and strengths, to love even till death, without anything in return, unconditionally, and selflessly. We must take the principles of loyalty and the attributes we carry to war and apply them to our daily lives in being good men and women.
Transitioning has been a struggle, but only because in times where I feel used, taken advantage of, or because of my intrinsic characteristic of giving, kindness, and caring for those who hurt it has left me hurt, and in pain, but that is part of the battle. We cannot make excuses for being less than what we strive to be. I made my choices to go to war, to do what I did, see what I saw, and regardless of the consequences I will not let those change my intrinsic values. I have learned that loyalty, honor, commitment, selflessness is a rare attribute, outside the military. Finding myself in situations where I thought I could trust someone, only to be stabbed in the back. To have someone say things to my face, whether how grateful, or kind, or love, while behind my back they slander and tear me down. Yet when they need something or are hurting, I am the one they reach out too. But people are broken, and we cannot let those things or people change who we are. We must not let the “transitioning phase” affect ourselves to the point where we truly become a victim of society and the hurt and pain of this world.
If not us, then who.
ALWAYS BESIDE YOU.
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