Content Warning!

This blog on occasion addresses depression, death, suicide and other sensitive themes. Continue at your own discretion in reading the content.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Hero Lives with Battle Scars and Survives

I don’t know if it’s the weather and the trees blossoming or the universe doing its thing to help me out, but this has been the most upbeat week I’ve had in A LONG TIME!  I decided to do a different take on a mind-map and decided to map my journey since last July of my interest in the military. It has been an interesting journey. I set out drawing lines to each item that connects to another and before I knew it my journey had shown me things that I had not seen.  Things started to shift when I finished reading “Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows” by Jason Fox.  I then dived into Ollie Ollerton’s “Break Point” followed by Sean J. Rogers book "Better Broken: The Hidden Advantage of a Challenging Life".  After Sean's book I then moved on to Mark "Billy" Billingham's book "The Hard Way: Adapt, Survive and Win" and lastly, “Hero Living: Seven Strides to Awaken Your Infinite Power” by Rudy Reyes.

These books called out to me and have resonated with me in different ways. I have been nourished, accepted, redeemed, validated, forgiven and a whole lot of other adjectives. I feel centered and in a good headspace which is often fleeting given that I am a high-functioning depressive.  I can’t really put into words what has happened or what changed, I’m not sure I know, but something happened and I’m going to enjoy this feeling for a long as I can. When the universe puts something in your path, pay attention as it may be something to lend you an assist in this crazy world.

Jason's book caused me to reflect on my past, freezing me in my tracks to recall my last suicide attempt. I have spent my life learning about myself, trying to understand my pain, and learn from others along the way.  That's why when reading about Jason's pain as he met that dark door of whether or not to make an attempt, I understood the pain he was wrestling with for I had been there myself.

Ollie's book allowed me to reflect even more but not in the same way that Jason's book did. The world is clearer when you aren't drowning in alcohol. Something I ditched long ago.  Alcohol didn't impact me to the point I was using to medicate but it simply was not good for me and my headspace.  It brought the darkness closer, allowing it to entwine me, taking me hostage. I had to fight to keep it away.

I have to admit that Sean's book, out of all the books, didn't resonate strongly but I walked away with something. Same with Billy's book.  It's not to say these books are bad, they are quite good, and I wholly recommend reading them.  What I realized is that the things they spoke of I had been through in my own way and dealt with.  I welcomed learning about their journeys because it's so important to learn from other paths, but their paths were ones I recognized in myself. 

That is what these books, these stories from these vulnerably strong men showed me. They reflected my life journey in various ways. These are men with stories to tell and share. It is their pain, the journey of learning about self that matters. Like I said, I felt validated and nourished by their tales of perseverance and resiliency. 

I was drawn to all these books, the universe putting them in my path for a reason.  Lastly, I picked up Rudy Reyes' book and so began another journey. Our lives very different but the journey to finding self and who you are, was a journey I knew.  Rudy had presented the journey I had been on in a different way. I appreciated this because I was reminded of things I had forgotten and then it was like everything showed itself to me again. All my life lessons, all the things I know about myself woke up. 

My brain started chewing on craft project ideas again, I started writing more in my journal, started purging things. In some ways, I was spring cleaning my inner self and my environment. It really has been a great feeling.  A weight, lifting off of me allowing me to feel free but I also realized that while my world is mostly dark, along the way I learned to keep the light on within myself. 

I learned that Ollie and Jason have written other books and those are on their way.  I was watching SAS Australia; they have an American on the show - a former member of SEAL Team Six and had the recruits on the show read his bracelet.  The show was on in the background while I was processing data for work when my attention was grabbed by the phrase - "The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday."

I was not familiar with this quote and had to look it up. I did not know that this was part of the ethos of Navy SEALS.  I read a couple of articles about it, learning that it serves as a reminder that every day brings new challenges as well as opportunities for us to grow. As we tackle these challenges and opportunities, working hard every day, then yesterday was easy.

I am thankful for these books.  I am thankful for these stories.  While these stories are of Jason, Ollie, Sean, Mark and Rudy, they are also OUR stories. Stories of trauma, of loss, pain, redemption, acceptance, courage, perseverance, resiliency, and most of all...forgiveness. These men reminded me that I am still here. I AM STILL HERE! I have been battling for a long-time, but a uniform was never needed to fight.  All that was needed was me. 

For today's musical treat, I leave you with Queen's "Who Wants to Live Forever". It feels like the appropriate song for today.  To Jason, Ollie, Sean, Mark and Rudy, thank-you for your courage on and off the battlefield. 

Rock on!