I had a bit of an epiphany the other day, but there’s some background that goes with that.
I had some unpleasant experiences in the military and while we don’t need to go into details it resulted in some issues for me- things that I could not deal with because I could not talk about the source of those issues. I also had migraines because of those experiences, so I found it difficult to maintain a normal job. I found ways around that eventually, like becoming a self-employed knife and sword maker. But the issues related to my service became a ticking time bomb. It finally detonated in October 2011, and I experienced what could only be called an emotional collapse.
My wife is a fantastic person. She supported me through that period when I could barely function and made sure I got the help that I needed from the VA and other sources. The VA has become rather good at dealing with PTSD in recent years and knew how to help. I also found a therapist through Washington State’s own veterans aid programs. In October 2013 the VA agreed that I was partially disabled and assigned me a modest disability pension.
Never in my adult life have I felt ‘normal.’ Whatever that is. I always felt isolated to some degree. Broken. But I did the best I could and all in all have to say that it was if nothing else a pretty interesting life, at least from my point of view. I also achieved significant success in my chosen profession. But since my collapse I have felt disabled. At least unconsciously. I have still managed to accomplish things and returned my life to a semblance of normality, but inside I was always conscious that I was broken.
Now for the epiphany: Yes, I am in some ways broken. So what? I’ve basically been broken my entire adult life. Driving a race car? Broken. Flying a plane? Broken. IPSC competition, learning historic swordsmanship, riding horses, teaching martial arts, becoming a world-renowned sword maker? Writing tens of thousand of words of articles, working on classic cars, writing books? Broken. The whole time. So what if I’m still broken?
Arguably after years of therapy and treatment I am less broken now than I was when I did and accomplished all of those things. I could finally get everything out in the open, understand and integrate it. Most importantly forgive myself. Yes, I am partially disabled, but that isn’t new. The only difference is that now I am aware of it and have done something about it.
I can’t go back, nor would I want to. What I can do is move ahead. Craft the life we want to live now, with all the care and attention I would give to crafting a sword or a novel. That’s what 2015 is about for us- moving ahead with the life we want to live.
I think we’ll skip the resolutions this year- we’ll have our plate full enough.