Tour of Duty – Military vs Civilian

“Hello. I’m writing from home but it’s not my home. and your. Living in a place that is not my home.”

One person. Military life. Civilian life. Two identities. A soldier. A civilian. The same person.

In a neomorphic collision of lives, Soldiers interchange their identities.

Military life encompasses uniforms, uniformity, leadership, preparedness, and training. Soldiers provide services where and when needed. Military life commands a call to duty. A call to service. A call to serve bigger than themselves.

Civilian life clamors for uniqueness, individuality and self-empowerment. It values flexibility, spontaneity and creative engagement. Civilian life is like a do-it-yourself, take-it-at-your-own-pace, self-directed course in life living.

Then it happens. Much like a canoe headed downstream. One minute you’re up and paddling. Hanging out with family and friends. The next minute, your deployment orders arrive. It’s time to go.

There’s no time or space to land. So you do what every great soldier does. You jump. Water splashes. You hit the water running. You report for duty.

Skillfully, without capsizing, your family and your friends do the inner-canoe shuffle. Trading places. Their re-arrange. They paddle. Their navigation remains the same.

The distance between you and them becomes more like lifetimes of distant, outdated memories. Living 12 to 18 months across countries. Across worlds.

Back home, the unstructured zaniness of civilian life clamors on; without you. The once familiar …

“What’s for dinner?” 
“Where’s grandma? The neighbors called. She ditched her dentures in their toolshed.”
“Who used my toothbrush?”
“What! You flunked 1st grade for the 3rd time?”
“If it’s not your fault the dog ate the turkey than whose is it?”

A canter and a language no longer you own.

Coming home … you wonder, where did it go?

Your family and your friends re-adjusted; without you.  Changed roles; without you. Routines formed; without you. Life at home moved on; without you.

Deployment ends. Soldiers return. The canoe is not where you left it. Chasing it down. Skillfully, without capsizing, you lumber in.  Your family and friends rearrange. What was, no longer is.

In life, as in story, change happens. What once was, will never be again. A new normal unfolds.

ReStory: One Man – One Tree

Howling winds and torrential flooding ravaged through a young soldier’s life. Purging his house of its structure. Purging his farm of its avocado trees. 18-months of deployment has pasted.

Coming home used to mean sleeping in one’s own bed. Celebrating the harvest of an abundant avocado crop. The one his neighbors gleefully crowed about.

This time, coming home meant seeing a house without a frame. An avocado farm without trees to harvest. One tree remained. A male tree. Strong, yet barren, as only female trees produce fruit.

He prepared for his next deployment. Only 12 months this time.

In a conversation before he left. His lifted his eyes. He looked ahead. Uncertainty wavering, he looked back down; then up. He stood. He smiled. He said, “I am like the tree. Strong. Still standing. The storm; she planted the seeds for a bigger farm. I can see it growing already.”

One man. A new story.

Another ReStory Support Option

Magical trinkets. Electronic devises. Unexpected smiles and encouraging words all make life a bit easier. More palatable. More humane.  At times we all can benefit from a bit of extra support. For soldiers, natural disaster survivors and their families may also benefit from a bit of extra support.

Give an Hour offers professional, confidential counseling FREE of charge for Military personnel, natural disaster survivors and their families. A bit of extra support towards the next legs of one’s journey.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

Robbery – Story’s Shift

Being the  ill-fated middle – person between the barrel of a gun and a robber’s forced cash withdraw didn’t show up on your bucket list. 

A gun aimed in your direction is terrifying. For me, it came out ok. For others it didn’t.

Wrapped up in the routine of the day, a demand for money note appears in front of you. Just in case you weren’t sure you were being held up, someone flashes a gun. All questions answered.

You fearing for your life. Your terrified about might happen to the people you love if something happened to you. You hand it over, just like the note said. In the moment, feels like days, the robber makes a get-a-way. Still breathing you wonder if you were really robbed. If what happened really happened.

Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. But whether it did or didn’t it is done. If you have any other questions you can review the security tapes after the law enforcement officials and news teams leave.

Now matter what happened or how it happened, people react differently. We are all unique creatures with different life experiences so it only makes sense.

Robbed and Talking

Hanging out in the pool area at a local sports club, iced swimmers migrate towards heated whirlpool waters. Some people sit, while others stand. The aroma of chlorine and the hum of muffled conversations and the mechanical drone of jet-propelled water fulls air space.

“My husband was robbed at work … ” comes the persistent tone of a woman’s voice. Quieting, attentive hot tub listeners lean in.

“He was held up at gunpoint … ” Her story continues. “We’ve been in counseling for two years just in case it happens again.” 

Pausing, she looks down. “I’m not a member. My husband can’t work. He could have gotten killed … “

In a different location, filtered sunlight floods the entryway to the local National Bank. Perched on stark metal chairs employees share the experiences of the latest robbery. A young employees father briefly interrupts, finding it hard to believe his daughter is still alive.

An older lady speaks up. “It’s my third time. I don’t think it gets any easier, but some [robberies] are just funnier than others.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, “He had a gun.” Laughing and crying, she continues, “This time the get-a-way car was a one speed bike.”

A few months later this same lady in the same bank was robbed again. Her story continued. “Going to court was the worst but after that I just felt sorry for the guy. I still write to him in prison.”

Get-a-Away not Getting You

Robbery happens. Robbers usually don’t target specific people at a set date and time. They want the goods. Robbery is just a way of getting them.

It would be really awesome if robbers used publically accessible calendars or social media news flashes. If they did, we would plan our day a different way. If they did, we might feel less of a target, even when we are not. If they did maybe we could just put the goods out front and save all the hassle and drama. But they don’t. 

Robbery and being robbed has lots of meanings to it. Being robbed of a promotion, your ideas, your role, your program or your goods can leave any of us feeling targeted and vulnerable.

Going back to work or the place it happened now takes courage. Then trying to double dodge the deafening voice in the back of our heads screaming about something we are sure we did wrong, but didn’t.

Gutting through the survivor guilt. Feeling like somehow if something worse happened to us instead of someone else this whole thing would be easier. Or even trying to figure out how we change what happened when we can’t.

What you can change is you. Your story can change too. The one about what happened, why it happened and what happens next.

OK it happened. You’ve talked about it. It sucks. But … What if you told this story a bit differently?

ReStory – Your Get-a-Way

The truth is there are things you did which helped yourself or someone else. Find something you had the courage to do. Or something you did to help someone out, including yourself. 

Did you have the courage to go back to work? The courage to tell your story? The courage to make the call. The courage to … 

When you are ready, review what happened. See the strength and the courage you brought to the situation.

Look at some of the amazing people around you. How did they help? What hidden strengths or courage did they do? What did you learn about yourself in some unexpected way or ways?

Did the drudgery of seemingly endless, routine training drills pay off this time? Did some people’s actions surprise you? Did you work together as a team in way you didn’t think was possible? 

Did people offer helpful support in unexpected ways?

Start your new story. Acknowledge your strengths – the strong stuff. The positive, unexpected things that seemingly came out of no where. The strength you already showed. The courageous steps you have already taken.

Let the people around you know their strengths. How they helped. Other good stuff you saw in them. Your story is already changing.

Being the hero or heroin of your story, means saying yet it. So name it. Say it out loud. Tell someone else about it. 

How does it feel? What’s different about your story now?

If life throws a challenging curve, find the support you need. Find the strength inside yourself. If you are honest, it has always been there. This can make a different in how you move through the trauma.

This is your story. Tell it like it is. Tell it only in the way you can.

Be the hero of your story instead of a victim of circumstance.

Until next time … Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

Quiet the Mind – Images from the Past

OK, it happened. I was there, but seriously! How many times do I have to relive it? Does it ever end? If it there is an end, how do I get there?

Talking about it helped. It helped to figure out what what was going on. It helped to put some of the pieces together. It even helped to deal with some of the intense emotions.

Helped yes. But my mind’s playback button is still clocking in at triple overtime.

Breath

Simple but powerful.

Catch a breath in through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Repeat a few more times.

Question

Ask yourself:

Is this happening now?
Answer yourself.

Most likely your answer is no. Take a glance around. Is it happening now or is it here now?

No. Ask again if you need to.

Keep asking until your mind doesn’t have as much to say. Keep asking until the image or images don’t feel as strong. 

Keep asking and answering until your mind gets quieter. Until your emotions settle down.

What is different? 

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing Stories – Impacting Lives

It Hurts . . . What do I say?

 

Life has them. The unexpected, shocking, even horrifying moments. Moments where you wonder if your bones can handle the pressure. When tears sear your skin. When breath wrings out your lungs.

The unexpected happens. People rob people. Storms surge. Wars erupt. People die. Words fall empty. Life continues. 

“I wasn’t there . . . This type of thing never happens to me . . . I feel guilty, it should have been me . . . I can’t relate . . .”

What do I say? I know they hurt. I hurt.

You might start by saying: I am sorry this (say the name the event) happened. I am sorry that (say the name of the person) died. I am so sorry that you were robbed. I am sorry that your house got destroyed . . .

Then listen. Listen without words. Skip the inside the head, trying to figure out what you’re going to say. Just listen. It works. When you feel confident in listening, afterward, it’s amazing how the words just show up. Trust. You’ll know what to say. 

If you want to help, do so. Not everyone is going to want assistance or what you have to offer. It’s ok. 

If they do what the help. It’s ok. 

What’s next?

Be respectively directive. 

“I am going to the store tomorrow, what would you like me to get for you?”

“I am going to our meeting on Thursday, would you like me to pick you up at three o’clock?”

“I just made an extra big batch of soup, would it be OK to bring some over after six o’clock tonight?”

Just offering to help and your telephone number might be too much for a person in crisis to fully process. Making what you are able to do for them and what might be helpful to this individual makes it easier for them to accept or decline your offer.

If appropriate, give a hug. Always a nice way to let another person know that you care, especially when words can’t say it all.

Until next time . . . Story Impact: Changing stories – Transforming lives.