When the doc asked me what the trauma in PTSD was that every combat veteran shares, it really did throw me. I thought about this and thought about this before the doc answered. He said, "The trauma is death". He went on to explain how witnessing and being confronted by death and the frailty of the human body is the trauma each and every combat veteran shares. One second, your friend is alive. The next he is dead. Helping to lift a wounded detainee onto a stretcher and sliding your arm into his chest cavity. The spectre of death is everywhere. Every combat veteran has to confront his own mortality. I a combat zone, daily. It is a truth that hangs over us like a shroud.
This truth (and I felt the truth of what he said down to my bones) was so simple that I couldn't believe that no one had ever asked me this question before in 8+ years of therapy. It was a realization didn't sit easy with me, but I don't think the doc intended it to. I think he wanted me to realize and appreciate the profound change that combat trauma brought into my life. I finally feel like I have a good starting point to really attack my PTSD from.
Up until I met this doc, I didn't realize how all over the place my thoughts and methods of coping really were. He made me realize that recognizing that I am exhibiting behavior I don't like is a good starting place, but unless you address the underlying trauma that is the root cause of the behavior, that's as far as you can go. He is going to help me learn how to do this, and for that I am grateful. As I learn and make realizations, I look forward to sharing them with you all!