This morning I received a promotional text from a local Car Wash Company. "Happy Memorial Day Weekend from ********* Auto Spa! Honoring our heroes with a sparkling tribute. Stop by today and shine on with us! 🇺🇸🚗✨" I do not know what the message was trying to convey with words like honor and tribute, but to me, It was triggering. To be clear, I am not angry at them or asking they be boycotted for their lack of awareness / sensitivity. I simply want to vent a moment about something that, at this point, with so many wars and lives lost in our recent past, should be a given. Memorial Day is for our fallen brothers and sisters. PERIOD.
To be clear, I served 6 years in a rare, peace-time US Navy, with honor. However, since 2009, I have been actively working with combat active duty and veterans who have witnessed the ultimate sacrifice, first hand. And often, many, many times. The stories I have been privy to, the hidden wounds of those with whom I have or currently work, are deep and difficult. My life's work is dedicated to helping those who serve or have served our country because I have personally lost service members who could no longer "stick it out" here on earth and were simply tired of trying or succumb to the intense pharmacological overload routinely dolled out by the VA. Over the course of this weekend, I tend to stay quiet and fill my heart with love and memories of our time together as I walked with them on their personal healing journey.
My heart is also present to all my brothers and sisters in service as they try to move through some of the most difficult memories a human being can hold. Often, using pharmacology or alcohol to help keep the memories hidden or at least less intense. I want each of them to hear and know in their hearts, there is hope and help available. In the fall of 2022, I experienced an intense, traumatic series of events that immediately flooded me with painful memories, flashbacks and night terrors. It took me through the end of the year to integrate that experience to where it was not so distracting / overwhelming. To be clear, I am not over it, it is not in my rear view mirror, it is a part of me I am still working to integrate and convert into one of the best parts of me. As soon as it happened, I starting thinking that I can use this challenge to help me better understand my client base who are having flashbacks, night terrors and other challenges related to trauma.
We can not hide from our past, nor can we move fast enough through life to keep it at bay. What we can do is begin to build a tool box to feel strong and safe enough to begin processing the past as a learning and growth opportunity. Our survival mechanisms are not punishing us, they are doing their best to protect us at all times but they can be very overbearing and intense when we are ungrounded. I find that guilt and shame are two very powerful factors in keeping us stuck and looping back into traumatic / intense events. This is where we typically start to gently create space for the healing to begin because the kevlar that is guilt or shame, will prevent any real healing to take place, no matter how longs its been. Each of us deserves peace, tranquility and order in our lives. My life is dedicated to helping others find theirs.
May this Memorial Day bring peace to those who gave all for our freedoms and safety, their family and friends.
With a deep bow of respect.