Walking Wounded

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me. There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called ‘resources.’ People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this ‘commonsense’ vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace.
~ C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed

People generally don’t suffer high rates of PTSD after natural disasters. Instead, people suffer from PTSD after moral atrocities…. Trauma is an expulsive cataclysm of the soul.
~ David Brooks

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath; He has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me He turns His hand again and again the whole day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; He has broken my bones; He has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; He has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; He has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, He shuts out my prayer; He has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; He has made my paths crooked. He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; He turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; He has made me desolate; He bent His bow and set me as a target for His arrow. He drove into my kidneys the arrows of His quiver; I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. He has filled me with bitterness; He has sated me with wormwood. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”
~ The Weeping Prophet, Jeremiah, in Lamentations 3

Oh beloved, it is true.

The reality of life is that all will experience suffering. Whether that suffering is delayed or ongoing, we will face it. There is no way around it. Suffering’s source: evil, though, is a conundrum that can be more understood by understanding that it does not really exist. Evil, and the suffering it begets are a deprivation of truth and goodness. It is a twisting of reality. Evil is a distortion of the truth.

The effects of evil, though, are quite real. Real damage to worlds, systems, and people can be measured. Oh, some of this is self-inflicted. We each seem quite willing to take our eyes off of what is real, and squirrel after the twistings and tailings wrought by lies. But often, our suffering comes at the hands of others who have, themselves, been tempted away from what is truly real.











For many, the piling on of the above, can lead to a syndrome known as PTSD. The moral outrage we feel from events where we witnessed some of the horrors of life, but could not make a difference – and the violations we have sustained ourselves, create a huge imbalance between the emotions and the memory of the events. We get flooded with memories of the events, and we feel the helplessness and/or repugnance of the same.

And this flooding has the weird effect of making us more empathetic for those who are suffering around us, whilst simultaneously reducing our ability to process our own trauma. Often, this manifests in the one suffering the PTSD as detachment or disassociation from almost everything around us. But, even in the fog of the detachment, rises up within us a hyper-vigilance where we go to full fight-or-flight mode even with a modestly negative issue.

For this fool of a writer, i have experienced moments where suddenly i am right back in some of the toughest moments of my life:

Deep Betrayal. Loss of a home through lies. Loss of a career over lies. Finding out that i am more of an ATM to some of those closest to me than a partner in a close relationship.

Physical and Sexual abuse of myself and of my children by a man who should have been a bastion of trustworthiness.

Being quite literally beaten by a group of boys that i thought were my friends – all for the sin of being smart.

Surviving the rantings of a father with his own problems; avoiding the flying hammers and tools, the punches, and the readying to swing the shovel as he threatened to kill me for standing up for myself.

Life and Death events (a full-blown knife attack, running from terrorists in the dead of night in the Middle-East, facing death from a radical at the base of a hellish SE Asian trash mountain, and in many situations in my times living around the world – doing what i did).

Seeing – and smelling – death. If you have been there, you likely join me in knowing but not being able to describe it. It haunts me. It breaks my heart and impels me towards the rescuer and modes in which i find more comfort and power. The after-action exercises one must go through when they are a safety officer (and the profound rage one feels when they see the senselessness of most serious and fatal injuries).

Please understand, none of what i say above is to whine about it, or to complain about it. The reality is far beyond just reacting badly to something i don’t like. I am a wounded man on a long march. I am broken – but still expected to perform at the highest levels – and i am finding that year upon year of trying to say “oh, its ok.” or “you will just get through this” have not even begun to cut through the problem.

Honestly, the above is only a quick fly-by. While my life has been highly adventurous, and in so many ways – beyond my dreams – those adventures have been weighted down by real trauma that has left me feeling as though I have an invisible, gaping, and hemorrhaging chest wound.

In the last five years especially, i feel myself shutting down and shutting everything out. My responses have not been healthy. Addiction, depression, anxiety beyond words, living in a hyper-vigilant state that keeps my eyes scanning the room and horizon for the next incomprehensible incoming round.

Can we see it?

All the above make me one of the most fortunate people to have ever lived.



My trauma has led me into a dark night of my soul. I am in a crisis where I see the amazing man G_d has made me to be, but left me wondering if i can go on in life without just crumbling.

Though, I have started counseling with a Trauma Therapist, and I am taking my diagnosis more seriously now, it has been hard for me to accept this reality. I feel like I am stealing valor from some of the men i know of, who have been in the deepest of deep-dark trouble. Like the men who have watched their buddy disappear or be torn to pieces by inbound fire. But in beginning to understand my situation, I have realized that trauma is cumulative. And, I have learned that in minimizing the trauma through which i had passed, i was minimizing the chance of my healing.

This fool of a writer is becoming a bit like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. I have become both aware of the extent of my own injury. But, in becoming aware of how broken i am, i am also becoming more convinced that G_d is in this with me, and He is never going to abandon me.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth in the dust— there may yet be hope; let him give his cheek to the one who strikes, and let him be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast Love; for He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men.
~Jeremiah, continuing in chapter 3 of Lamentations.

So, are you feeling overwhelmed by the traumas of life. Don’t aggrandize the little things, but don’t ignore the signs. Get some help. You will be glad you did.

And know this, our Savior, Jesus The Christ, has experienced every one of the moments we are all going through. He paid with His own Life to make forgiveness available to those who have hurt us, just as He died to forgive me for all the times i have hurt others.

Tonight is your night, beloved. Healing is available. Get the professional help you need, and know more deeply than we can know right now, that He has never left us, nor forsaken us – and He never will.

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.
~ Viktor E. Frankl

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