No I am not referring to any NEWS article or story about a world leader getting caught doing something they shouldn’t be. Nor, am I thinking about anything going on in my neck of the world. I am simply thinking about my past week and all the things that happened.
This past week, I went to a residential (live in) treatment program designed to deal with PTSD and Moral Injuries (more about moral injuries will be coming, trust me). Being removed from the program for two days now, I can honestly say that I am still trying to process what exactly went on and the depth of the changes that took place within me. The despair of PTSD has been morphed into something completely 180 degrees from it and as exciting as it is, it is also scary as all hell. And now here is the rub, I’m going to tell you about the program without telling you anything about it. Confused? Good, now we are on an even playing field.
The program I went to is called Project Trauma Support (PTS) and it is based in a little town called Perth, Ontario. PTS is geared towards military and first responders suffering from moral injuries and/or PTSD and it takes a completely fresh approach to dealing with the issues attached to both. After arriving, you quickly learn that you are no longer in Kansas, although there were a few dogs kicking around, and you just have to go with the flow. Over the following days, something begins to change within you and you start to see things in a very different light. Your perceptions change and evolve and before you realize it, it is time to pack up and return to your everyday world.
For me, the most impactful part of the week was being able to sit in a room with 7 other individuals who just know exactly what you are going through without having to tell them about it. We became a tribe of warriors taking on the battle of a lifetime. I was humbled, brought to tears, emotional beaten up, laughed, cried some more, formed bonds and walked out with my head held high. I experienced the true meaning of Brotherly (Human) love and felt the support of those around me, who just a few days prior were perfect strangers. Saying that there were changes and evolution during this time is truly an understatement. But one thing I realized was just how damaged or to use my exact words “How fucked up I am” from all the things that I have been involved in.
So, after I left, I was thrown into a trial by fire. As I was heading back to the highway, I was involved in a minor accident. Did it piss me off, yep. Did I lose my shit over it, nope. I just let it happen realizing that I did everything I could (swerved to miss the on coming car) that I could and the rest was out of my control…… Sure I’m sore and stiff but the funny thing is that okay mentally with it. It didn’t result in some flashback to an accident scene nor did it bring up memories of injuries or death. I just did what you do after an accident and carried on my merry way.
I suppose it would be fair and safe to say that I now look at my PTSD as a Badge of Honour. I got it from doing and seeing the things that humans shouldn’t have to be part of. Basically, I did the dirty work so that others wouldn’t have to do it. The unfortunate part is that it left me with these battle scares so to speak which will be with me for the rest of my life. But that is not to say that they will control me for the rest of my life as I am focussing my energy on reframing the negative and using it as a means to grow beyond my current state. I know, it sounds like a whole bunch of hippie, long hair, drum banging horse shit but I’m going with it. In a week, it has caused changes to take hold and it is now a part of my journey, a tool if you will, that will help me on my way.
As an example of the results, the other night, I talked in-depth with my wife about some of the incidents I was involved in. Sure I got sad at the memories as they came flooding back but they didn’t terrorize me. They didn’t make me freeze up. They were just there. I allowed them to happen without consuming me. And yes, I am aware that I am riding a wave right now and eventually it will crash into the shoreline. But, I fully believe that when it does crash, it will not be the tsunami coming to shore but more of a gentle rolling wave, hitting the shore and slowly returning to the ocean.
This week, leading up to an important trauma anniversary, I will be discussing moral injuries and sanctuary trauma/injuries a bit as these are two of the main contributors to my PTSD.