Early Sunday we're in Orlando at Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrating Dear Daughter’s college spring break. Roller coasters are not my thing, so I sit on a park bench 'people watching' while my family rides the rails. Colorful Tibetan prayer flags dance in the wind, while screams of wild abandon mix in with the Asian themed music coming from Expedition Everest.
Across from me a 'not-so-old' couple sits down. Mrs.is upset as Mr. sinks into the bench. From the body language one can see his distress; he’s slumped over head in hands looking like the weight of the world is on him. From her I hear a constant stream of harsh words, we all hear it. Her voice raises a bit more as she lights up and takes a long drag off her cigarette "for Christ sake you were on a roller coaster ride, you are not in some helicopter and no one is shooting at you…no one’s shooting, don’t be ridiculous!"
"You are not in Vietnam, and certainly not in a helicopter." She repeats this statement several times exasperated.
Yes he is. Innocently he walked through the Asian Market with sights and sounds engineered to make one feel like they ARE in Asia. Then add to the psychic onslaught an intense roller coaster ride:
"the train rolls through thick bamboo forests, past thundering waterfalls, along shimmering glacier fields and climbs higher and higher through the snow-capped peaks. But suddenly the track ends in a gnarled mass of twisted metal and the thrills intensify as the train races both forward and backward through mountain caverns and icy canyons and guests head for an inevitable face-to-muzzle showdown with the mysterious yeti."
The adrenaline rush combines with his tragic memories… a near perfect mix for bringing up one’s combat trauma and a PTSD experience?
He's from the "don’t talk about it and it will just go away," generation.
He's lost in the war from some 40 years ago. Surrounded by imagineered sights and sounds; it's an awkward situation. I feel sad for them both…grateful for his service and feeling guilty all the same. These Vets were not honored, those of us coming of age in the mid 70's just missed out on the Vietnam experience, we stood at the periphery.
Sitting there I wonder should I say something, offer support. It's soul loss…she’s in a state of fear he’s going to lose it, he's lost in the moment and upset at himself, fearing he’s ruined the day. He wants to come HOME, she wants him to be done with it all. I am taking it all in as a healer and wondering what to do…
They sit in silence.
There’s shame, there’s fear, there’s trauma.
Then I notice she's wearing a cross.
Which reminds me to pray, call for Light even in his darkness, transfigure. Filling up with spiritual Light I start beaming. A few moments go by and Mrs. energy shifts, she reaches over with more tenderness in her voice; she's rubbing his back, telling him he’s okay, she loves him. My heart is full. They get up and walk away. It's a dance of Pisces and Virgo-the potential all of us carry for being the practical mystic in service to family and community.
With the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars there are many soldiers returning home lost in combat trauma. I am more aware of this than I was yesterday. How has PTSD touched your life as a healer, as a child growing up? How are you called to teach and create from this experience?
And as we head deeper into the Holidays, you can make a choice to go into your family chaos with love and still be the light. This awareness and intention may bring a breakthrough…
If a loved one suffers from PTSD and combat trauma consider consulting a shamanic practitioner who works with soul loss and the soul retrieval process. This blog is a tremendous resource: Healing Combat Trauma and Edward Tick, PhD. Shamanic practitioner, psychologist and Vietnam Veteran works with combat trauma here http://www.soldiersheart.net.
This holday be the Light,
Flag/Soldier Image: image used with permission of Healing Combat Trauma