by Britta Reque-Dragicevic
This first appeared in Britta’s blog, “Life After War” on October 13, 2013, and is republished with the author’s permission.
If you are reading this, chances are you or someone you love is hurting. If you’re a warrior, you may be feeling lost, broken, and uncertain if you’ll ever find a way back to a sense of wholeness. You’re tired of carrying so much weight on your heart, tired of others thinking you’re fine when you know, deep inside, you’re not fine. And so you are here. Reading this. Looking for hope and guidance. Because you don’t know what to do anymore or where to turn and no one out there really seems to get it. And you’ve tried, you tried so fucking hard and it seems no matter what you do, you always end up in the same place.
That’s where you are. Before I answer the title question, let me tell you where I am.
Here. On this side of the screen, as I write this, looking at a list of warriors who have connected to me by one path or another – men and women, like you, who have taken a chance on trusting me to care about them. I listen to stories of first kills, of watching buddies bleed out, of broken marriages, of coming home too changed to fit in anymore, of emptiness where there used to be fulfillment, of anxiety and panic, of missing the thrill of hunting humans, of anger and rage, of the crush of surviving when others didn’t, of fear that life at home has moved on and new relationships won’t withstand the distance, of fear of being forgotten, of parents who come home on leave from war to sit alone all day in empty houses, of life without sleep, of the meaning of nightmares, of tears that won’t be shed no matter how hard one tries, of hearts breaking silently, over and over until they’re numb, of doubts that the pain will ever stop.
I listen, but that’s not all I hear.
I hear hearts and souls: battered, tired, worn, still beating. I hear spirits broken, not obliterated. I hear courage, resilience, strength. I hear Love.
Love for fallen brothers and sisters, love for family, love for others; love for Life itself. Unyielding, tenacious Love driven to hold onto Life, to break through the darkness, to find a way to feel warmth and light and lightness of spirit – to return to Life. Love that refuses to give up, that carries layers of grief day in and day out, love that, in its search for wholeness, has brought them into my life.
As I receive these stories and get to know each person, I am blessed and deeply humbled by their trust and willingness to crack open their chests and let me stare into the darkness with them. And do you know what I see? Sparks of Light. Hope. Love. Beauty.
Marred? Yes. Dimmed? Yes. Barely flickering? Yes. But there, just the same.
Broken? Yes. Shattered? Yes. Unrecognizable to self? Yes. There, just the same.
Changed forever? Yes.
So when you wonder is it possible to heal after war, my answer is yes.
Because I see what you can’t see right now:
You: whole, transformed, reshaped, experiencing the fullness of your spirit’s power. Will you be who you were before war? No. But that’s not the goal. I see who you can be after war when pain is allowed to reveal its meaning, loss is allowed to move through you and released back to the Universe, and changes are accepted not as weaknesses but as part of a richer, deeper experience of being human.
I see you when it doesn’t hurt as much, when the ache is released, when the weight pressing down on you is unfastened and lifted off, and you breathe. Perhaps for the first time in years.
How can I say healing is possible? Because I’ve seen it happen. I know warriors who have experienced it. I see it happening, gradually (sometimes suddenly), while I am shouldering the pain with them in the dark and reminding them what the light looks like.
Don’t get me wrong. How you define healing after war matters. It’s not about going back, it’s not erasing, it’s not “undoing.” Healing after war is about honoring everything that has brought you to this place, right here, right now.
It’s about reclaiming your sense of power. It’s Relief and Renewal.
It’s staring into the light as much or more as you stare into the dark.
It is, essentially, remembering what war has made you forget. Who you are. Of Source Energy. Powerful. Of Life. Love itself.
So, if you are here and you’re too exhausted to believe that healing is possible, but you want to believe, contact me.
I’ll walk with you. We’ll find your way.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.