I really wasn't expecting it to be quite this intense, but it has. My new job and my routine are what have brought me back around. I just couldn't bring myself to focus on writing what I was feeling and experiencing when I wasn't even sure myself what my feelings meant. Well, with the passing of this period of upheaval comes respite. I now have the ability to make routines - routines that make time for myself, time for my family, time for coping and writing. I'm learning to cope with my PTSD in a whole new way - a way that not only teaches me about myself but in a manner that will sustain me and give me the strength I need to help others. So during my period of unintentional isolation and reflection, here's what has happened:
- I finally gave up smoking - even the smell of cigarette smoke turns my stomach now. Every other time I tried to quit, I couldn't stand being around the smell because it made the cravings unbearable. This time, it's different. I can feel my body purging itself of all of the toxins that cigarettes put there. After the physical withdrawal passed, I felt light, free. I have used smoking as a crutch since I was still over in Iraq - no more. I'm done running.
- I worked my last day in retail - and almost got run over in the parking lot. My last day in my old job saw me working outside cleaning the parking lot and pushing carts. It was a good day until the self-entitled punk yelled at me (the guy in the bright orange shirt) to watch where I was going. News-flash, jackass: you ran into me when you were busy talking on your phone and not paying attention to where you were pointing your car. Never have I been so thankful to leave a job behind. Retail is long, grueling hours for shit pay. I wouldn't wish it on my enemies.
- I refocused my attention - I won't lie, the prospect of not getting 501(c)3 status until 2015 at the earliest almost pushed me to quit. I had to step away from the non-profit for a bit out of frustration and disappointment. I had to really evaluate whether it was something that I still wanted to pursue. Not being able to effectively raise funds to support the non-profit made it impossible for me to pursue. When you have to work full-time to support your family and you're doing non-profit work on the side, an inability to raise funds can seem like a death sentence. What made it worse was the fact that the people I want to help (local veterans) have shown absolutely no interest in helping themselves. The only veterans I know that congregate on a regular basis are the ones with well-pickled livers. Our veterans don't seem to congregate to find support and solidarity. We don't even show up for each other and we want the general public to treat us differently? So, I've taken it upon myself to get out and lead by example. I'll be out and about participating in activities for veterans. I'll be focusing on creating that sense of community that we are missing terribly.
- Because of one racist asshole and one soldier that didn't get the help he needed and deserved, veterans have had more bad press in the past month than we'd gotten in years. Like it's not hard enough for veterans. Now the media is going to hyper-sensationalize this crap, thereby making it impossible for veterans to be viewed in a positive light. Hey Media Outlets - you claim to be champions of social justice and you pull crap like that? Where's the justice for veterans? We didn't go to war so that we could return home to dwindling job prospects, a broken economy, and a general public that is scared of us. But by all means, let's write an op-ed piece about the connection between military service and white supremacy and further drag our veterans' reputations through the refuse. The rate they're going, the New York Times is going to find itself on the newsstand right next to the Star and the National Enquirer (where facts are an inconvenience). I could say more, but I am reserving a very special place in my blog for the NYT and their idiot journalist. Don't worry, it's coming soon.
Yeah, I think this blog post has been a long time coming. I'm settling into a new lease on life and I am once again ready to share my struggles and my triumphs. So keep your eyes peeled and your inboxes open, 'cuz I'm back and I'm not afraid to 'use my words'...