We’ve all been there. We know the cadence of trained killers running to the beat of one heart. We’ve all heard the incessant pounding of soles against pavement at a rate of double time. The flashes of greatness that glimmer through our mind’s eye as our lungs burn and we sing to keep pace. Remember it goes something like this, “I Wanna be an Airborne Ranger…live a life of SEX and Danger!” Ah! good times right?
Well after all that shit comes parenting and post trauma stress. Father’s Day is approaching, summer schedule is in and it’s report card time.
As veterans, we often like to speak of our accomplishments as soldiers; we like to speak about our past. We covet the past for it is the future that sometimes worries us. For those living with it, PTSD it can be rough at times. With the anxiety that comes and goes as it pleases using our bodies like transmitters of intermittent hate and resentment- fatherhood can be a challenging venture to say the least. Not excluding the additional pitfalls of divorce, rocky relationships and child custody courts fatherhood present significant challenges.
Part of waking up is addressing the hard shit. It’s the monster in the closet. It’s the demons which chase you through your dreams. If only we could turn and face our fears. We could stop tripping and falling on our faces. We could stop hurting those that love us. We could stop failing those that look up to us. If you are reading this, there is someone who admires you. There is someone who loves you. We could all stand to be better. We could all stand to evolve for the sake of not only our children, but for the sake of our communities and our nation.
None of us intend to mess up our kids but sometimes we should stop and think. The truth isn’t always fun but it’s what we all need sometimes.
Maybe we could start small. And easy. Let’s start with intake. Let us ask ourselves if what we feed our children is the best option. How often do we load our children up with fast food and Taiwanese toys without ever knowing the chemicals actually going into their bodies? To build the best people possible wouldn’t it be important to learn how to prepare or once better grow our own nutritious meals. Real food from real living organisms could do wonders for the health and well being of any person, not just the little ones. With a little research and a little exercise couldn’t we make better decisions?
Parenting with PTSD will require foresight and education to stand a chance at being a positive influence for our children. The warrior is successful not because we can endure battle. Success depends upon our ability to plan for obstacles. Planning requires research. Research can lead to a change in thoughts and behavior. Before we meet any challenge we must first realize the battle in front of us.
When the toils of war continue to keep my mind occupied it can be challenging to take time to embrace and nurture others around me. It’s hard to communicate thoughts and feelings because of a break in rationale physiology sometimes. But like everything the show must go on. When disturbances and night terrors limit your sleep and retard our ability for patience it is hard to see anything further than the mission.
Work becomes the priority and we trade our time with our children to put food on the table. It’s admirable. I get it, but how often are we fully present for our kids both emotionally and spiritually? Sometimes my memories keep me from being the father I know in my heart I could be. I know I wasted a lot of time being angry over questions with no real answers.
It took a long time for me to stop and ask how much alcohol is too much. I thought it was normal to waste my money on tobacco. I thought it was normal to put poisons in my lip. Three fingers at a time. I watch in wonder sometimes as people chain smoke and drink their checks away and I know they have kids. Alcohol used to numb my senses but with age it just makes me feel like crap. Hangovers and screaming kids are a sure fire recipe for improvement in the areas of mental stability, compassion for others and sound judgment said no one ever.
There was a reason we couldn’t drink on deployment, or until given the infamous green light, and that’s because alcohol makes us stupid. It helps us do dumb shit. Usually over little things-the little things that make us or break us. Until I stopped using alcohol to cope I didn’t know what was up or down. It’s easy to see that now. It wasn’t easy to see that then. There is no room for error and anything can be a trigger sometimes. If we aren’t staying alert and aware of our own personal limits the consequences could be imminent.
Little things like loud screeches, innocent tantrums, and persistent cryings are enough to ravage the senses. The minutiae of daily life and the ever flowing stream of problems and concerns of others can aggravate and dissolve all senses of empathy. Kids are kids. -It is a hard perspective to see at times, especially when there are bills to pay. If your kids are like mine, they talk to me like I’m across the street. They only have one volume. Their expressions of joy often jar loose the tuning fork in my head that adds a heavy metal ting that will sometimes stay for hours. When you’re asleep they sneak into your room at night. All joking aside it presents challenges. Add in a variety of new medications with a sleuth of possible side effects and the possibilities are indeed endless. It is hard to not get angry. It’s hard not being frustrated sometimes. But anger is simply sadness and hopelessness disguised.
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