Yet, lying among these beautiful memories, hidden away like many coiled-up, angry, serpents on the verge of striking, there are so many strong, painful memories during this time of year. The separation from my family was one. Another one was having to quietly, stoically bear the tremendous stress and pain that I already felt even before deployment thanks to two very demanding bosses, one of which was supportive of all my efforts, the other, however, being a very critical, legalistic, perfectionist. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do a good job and to provide good services to those many thousands of soldiers that were affected by the work and decisions of me and my team of soldiers and civilians. However, some military leaders never learn the lesson that those people “out there” are certainly important, but those people close around you, helping you to accomplish the mission, are also important. I think, maybe, that these men and women may forget about the feelings, welfare, and morale of those working closest to them because they narcissistically view these people, not as independent, autonomous, sentient, emotive beings, but rather as extensions of their own ego. It’s just a hunch.
In any case, I subconsciously and spontaneously fall prey to these lurking emotions linked to unpleasant memories which reactivate, triggered by the sameness of conditions (smells, sights, sounds, feelings, etc.). Many times, they take me unaware. Sometimes, I can feel them coming on, building up, like the “cup filling” metaphor used by the late David Hackworth (1930-2005). I was trying to describe my PTSD to a student this week comparing it to ADHD. Sometimes my PTSD experience is akin to that of people suffering from ADHD. There is a certain point at which too much interaction with people, too much stimulus, or too much of intensive or emotional experiences can overwhelm me. I can sense when I need to just get away from people and go to a quiet, safe, secure place so that I can stop the cup from filling any further, certainly before it overflows and I do something drastic or over-the-top, and so that I can, perhaps, let the cup drain out a little until I feel calm and confident enough to be among people again.
I did not intend to wander into such negative territory with the subject matter, but perhaps these explanations may help someone to understand a little about themselves or a loved one who is suffering from PTSD.
I pray that you will be immersed in the peaceful, warm, tender, comforting love of our Glorious Lord and Savior Jesus who loves you far beyond what you can comprehend in this temporal world.