more ramblings without a point…


like the title says, my brain just tried to force a connection between two disconnected events.

a friend (well several actually, but we’re just talking about two of them today) is going through therapy for PTSD.  she’s still on active duty, so she’s being seen in a military hospital by a civilian therapist.  at one point her therapist got really frustrated with her because she wouldn’t open up about some things, or made some comment like “you wouldn’t understand”.  apparently her therapist was having a bad day and proceeded to unload on my friend, calling soldiers narcissistic.  saying we all had a need to feel special so we created these situations and claimed nobody else could understand them if they weren’t a soldier, and how this was a false belief that was one of the root causes of all our problems, that we need to learn to accept that we aren’t that special after all.

this obviously didn’t go over well, but that’s a different story.  the fact of the matter is i see some truth to what the therapist says.  we do lump a lot of stuff together.  there are some things that no one but another soldier can understand, but there are also some things that shouldn’t be shared with non-military.  sometimes it’s a way of keeping the faith with your fellow brethren, sometimes it’s because it’s so horrific that you shouldn’t burden normal people with it, you just share it with others who’ve seen and/or done equally horrific things.  but we lump other things in with that mess, things that we probably could share or talk about except that we’ve been trained not to break ranks, not to air dirty laundry with people who aren’t “family”.  and sometimes the family bonds are stronger with fellow soldiers than families of blood or vows.  it’s a lot of emotional strain to sort out what you can and can’t/do and don’t want to share and i know many skip this strain and just share nothing.

one of the things that i’ve gotten grief for over the years is my ability to continue operating in emotionally charged situations.  the perception that i’m without emotion because i can go to work after a traumatic event like a death in the family and don’t fall to pieces.  years ago i wrote this blog post about being told that it must “hurt to be me”.  i’ve heard the commentary and questions about how i reacted (or was perceived to not react) to the lung stuff, especially when they thought it was cancer for a week, then maybe a hole in my heart.    non-military people have started to blame this on the military, saying that it’s turned me into a robot.  personally i kind of think this is the way more people should be, saving deep emotional discussions for close friends and family at home and in private places vs. sharing every nit-noid detail of their life with near strangers over the cubicle walls at work.  and tons of people DO work like this.

the second friend.  she went to take photographs of the Tough Mudder race here in colorado a couple weeks ago and accidently dropped one of her cameras and broke her wide angle lens.  it’s her favorite lens, she’s not rich and she felt bad for dropping it and started crying.  her friend, also a photographer, immediately started taking photographs of the moment.  when i saw this photo i was kind of mortified that he went into “document the moment” mode vs. consoling his friend.  she was different, she was proud that he was able to separate himself from the moment and was glad that he got the shots.


One Response to “more ramblings without a point…”

  1. You are a bit of a tight-lipped lot. At the same time, of all of the soldiers I’ve worked with and talked to, you’ve been the most communicative and helpful as far as teaching me a few military ropes. There have been a few others more willing to talk about their jobs and lives, but it seems to me that that’s been more a personality trait than a military standard.

    I find myself pussyfooting around generalizing, then. I can’t run off and write about or tell a local news anchor something about 1 soldier’s experience as if “this is how it is for our guys and gals.” Different jobs, different locations, different situations, and a general tendency not to “burden” us with facts really does leave us in the dark on some aspects.

    Now I’m getting all mooshy. I’ve written before that the fact that we don’t know, and that we walk about every day free of fear and unburdented with the nightmares that you have for us, is part of the soldier’s gift and service to us…and we need to keep thanking them for that.

    So thank you.

    P.S. I’d cry too, if that were my camera.

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