It is said that knowledge is power.
In my short experience on Earth, knowledge is neither good nor bad. It’s what one’s perspective at that moment that determines whether said knowledge is helpful or harmful.
I swear I’m not drunk or high while writing this. No beercan philosophy here.
So, what happens when that perspective becomes skewed? Bear with me… Let’s say a young man from a conservative, middle-class, average family decides to serve his country. Up to this point in his lifetime, nothing overly traumatic has happened to him. He has great hopes for his future and wants to make his own way in life and has decided four years in the military is a great start.
Then, his country goes to war shortly after basic training. He ends up in combat and sees things that he thought only happened in movies, books, or to other people – not him. He does his duty which includes following orders that lead to horrible nightmares as the tip of the iceberg.
Eventually, his tour is up and gets to go home, but nothing is ever the same.
Now, he knows the kind of horror humankind can inflict upon themselves, and he decides to internalize this horrific knowledge so as to not bring those he loves down into the morass.
Eventually, he realizes he trusts hardly anyone. After all, he has seen what people can do to each other. He gets angrier about it, but he still can’t tell anyone. Part of him still loves and doesn’t want his loved ones to feel the way he does.
There are many other emotions and issues he deals with, but I’m not going to get into that.
What I am going to say is this… I went to war, too. It was a different type of war. Instead, it was a war of words, situation, and perspective. Nonetheless, it was a war. It was me versus a predator.
I had to make decisions no one ever thinks they’ll have to make. I had to do things that I never thought I’d have to do. I always thought, “That kind of stuff happens to other people.” I was wrong.
I honestly thought, countless times, that I was going to die, but there was a part of me that fought back. That part of me is still fighting. Call it the Texan in me… or simply the instinct to survive.
My point is this… one person went to war, and a different one came home. My perspective on people changed. I thought that something in me must be flawed to have trusted him.
In the end, I internalized just like the soldier did. The last thing I wanted to inflict was my pain on others. However, that decision was not mine to make as there was still fallout.
Instead of talking about it, it morphed and poisoned my well-being leading me down a path of self-destruction. I had gotten out of the war-zone, but the battles still raged in my head. While I still reached for a future, there were strings of doubt and mistrust still there, and the people I should have been trusting were paying the price as well.
I blamed myself over and over again. “If I hadn’t done this… if I HAD done that… I should have…” Failure is bitter, and I was choking on it.
I was creating grey area where there wasn’t any. HE lured me… HE attacked me… HE took advantage of me… HE tried to kill my dog and continued to threaten me with it… It’s pretty black and white. It WAS his actions. I GOT OUT.
I’ll keep talking about it here, in therapy, and to those I hope I can trust. There is no cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (aka. PTSD), but there is treatment. This is part of it.