|By Scott Lee circa 1991|
When I can't stop the impulsive thinking things can escalate quickly if the situation is misread and turns stressful. All of this informs that I must be wary of what I say depending on the audience in attendance. Not that this plan always works. If people could step back and take it as a learning and healing opportunity, it would break down barriers between us. My difficulties in communicating could be seen as a manifestation of my condition; a psychological wound. It's time to take a look at how we communicate with our veterans, before to many more of us pull the final trigger.
It's never easy to receive a direct verbal assault of judgement or righteous indignation from your veteran, which can happen when loved ones fail to listen or discern underlying issues.
Living through combat or operational experiences fundamentally changes the way we think, feel and see the world. Our survivors perspective has etched our psyche altering consciousness and our connections with people whom we were once close. It may seem as though we have disowned one another, but for the veteran we are locked in our minds most of the time. Fighting our trauma takes an incredible amount of mental energy manifesting as the external battle you see. Just as we would lend an arm in support of the physically disabled, so should we begin the journey of understanding the mentally wounded and offering a emotional shoulder.
We no longer feel the comfortable sameness with one another back at home, the relational arena has changed.
In combat we develop the most intense bonds through blood and survival in unimaginable situations in epic tales. When a squad emerges having survived, it burns away the facades we fake. We become genuine in our thinking, feeling and expression. Whether we direct this new energy in a downward spiral or we hone it as a skill set. Either can have a huge impact on our lives. Civilian life is full of complex rules of etiquette and expected social mores. All very troublesome for the paranoid, delusional and dissociative mind looking for the reason to avoid, avoid, avoid.
If we are unaware of these developments; our skill sets, the dissociative symptoms and the civilian rules, then it can become problematic for our triggers. Alarms signaling hidden agendas, putting us on guard our defensive mechanisms begin to turn. We may project our anxiety onto you, again fouling up the opportunity to reach a relational arena. We may feel disowned or out of touch, but what we have lost is the place in which to relate again. The altered relational parameters will take time to work out, give it and us time.
Communication starts when we loose the desire to speak and be heard, it begins when we open up to receive and act authentically.
Listening is a powerful tool, it can make your veteran feel as though you are in our corner. Caught up in our constant and silent mental crisis, our perceptions may be skewed. The delusions may have greater command over our judgement and thus our reactions. Hence the confusion and misunderstandings between veterans and loved ones. Armed with the right information and the ability to listen, the support member could use these moments to offer an empathetic hand. We need to share our burdens but fear your rejection if we tell you it all. Expect to be open minded, we may share soul tearing information. Guard your reaction, please don't pull away during these moments.
Let the stunned silence rain, communion begins when we open our spirits to one another.
We need direct communication, don't worry we probably will not be phased by 'what you say.' It is in the delivery that we need to take great care, with skill and finesse in, how we speak to one another until we can bridge the gap of confusion. We have been emotionally crippled by witnessing or participating in mass death and destruction on a scale unimaginable. If our wounds were visible we would get respect, admiration, and compassion. We have no scars to prove our fight was just and that we gave it our all. We have Invisible Wounds that manifest as behavioral issues and social awkwardness.