To Those Whom I Met In An Online Support Group For PTSD

It’s different now. You know? Four years ago, you were my only support— online, in person, and in life. I only had you and a brand new baby to hold.

I shared a lot with the group, with you, but the biggest battle is still one I carry alone. Though, you taught me to bare it all and learn to pull a few close. I did that. You taught me a lot of other things too, although many of you I’ve shoved away. And you let go.

I bet you don’t know, everything I do, the woman I am today, is because of you. I stumbled into the room half dead, half alive, broken. And every time I opened my mouth, you cared and you actually spoke back. Everything I said, you told me it helped you. I’d never had confidence in myself like that… or people who wanted to love me. I didn’t even know the sound of my voice before I met you.

We bled together and laughed together. I swear, we introduced the world to cupcakes and vodka. You still make me smile. You still make me cry too. Because I know, in the end, I hurt a few of you after the loss of my sister.

It’s not easy for me to admit I did some of the damage. It’s not easy for me to write this open letter to you. But, when hearts get broken, we have a way of slamming doors. And, when we remember love, we have a way of kicking them open too.

Maybe, back then, I was just a stranger who walked into your life and you did your best to love me. I wish I would’ve told you then I was so broken I didn’t know how to receive it. I wish I could have told you then how I will love you with everything that I am… and hurt you because I can’t always control it.

All the words I needed to say got lost because I knew you loved me and you were hurting too, but you shoved me away. You ignored my pain. And every single time, it broke me. I can’t tell you how hard it was to watch your news feed; your sadness and pain. But, mostly, your love.

Many of you had families; sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandchildren. Gosh, I envied them. And I listened when you called me family too. Maybe I seemed just as lonely as you, but the truth is, you had love you couldn’t feel in the middle of your darkness. It was too much for me because on my side of the fence the yard and the houses are empty.

I wish I could’ve told you back then. I think a part of me really tried. But I was shattered, the words came out sharp and anger became me. I wish I had logged off. Part of me wishes I had stopped reaching out. Because my circle was small and when it came to pain, I carried it all; your bad days, my bad days, your loss, my grief, all of the weight from everything we’ve ever escaped… and the only place to dispose of it was in the same place we gained or left it.

I’m sorry I hurt you while I was hurting. You deserved better from me. But I just wanted to say, in case you ever look back my way…

Thank you for teaching me how to walk.

Help Mac Jo Fit Bring Health to Ohio Families

 

The Homeless Veteran

I was stuck in rush hour traffic when my engine sputtered and my car came to a stop. I’ve always hated driving in the city. But there I was, halfway through a four-way stop, blocking traffic. I immediately began to panic.

He was small, thin and rugged, clothed in torn jeans and a black leather jacket. His hair was long and silver, covered by a bandana that looked like the American flag. If he hadn’t offered to help me that day, I might not have noticed the dog tags around his neck or the pain his eyes.

He Was Homeless

As children, we’re taught to be cautious of strangers. As women, we’re taught that applies especially to men we don’t know. So it was easy to ignore him before as I passed him standing on the side of the road.

I had seen him. I even read the sign he was holding. It said:

Anything you have to give. God bless you.

I did my best not to give my attention, so I wouldn’t feel guilty for not helping. When he approached my window and softly knocked to get my attention, guilty is exactly how I was feeling.

His name was Ron. “But all my friends call me, ‘Lieutenant,’ he said as he introduced himself and diverted the oncoming traffic.

At first, I wanted to tell him I was sorry I hadn’t stopped when I saw him before. But I didn’t.

I greeted him warmly and thanked him for coming to help me. Then we began to move my vehicle to a more convenient location. He pushed and I steered. He insisted. Soon, I was safely parked at a nearby McDonald’s.

As I shook his hand and thanked him again, I noticed he didn’t have his sign anymore. He must have left it. I asked if I could buy him some dinner. It was the least I could do for his help.

At first, he declined. “It’s okay, ma’am. I stay here some nights. They’re good to me at his one,” he said as he looked towards the ground.

I insisted.

I didn’t expect to sit and eat with him, but I did. He insisted. As we sat together that day, I learned a different side of war.

He Was Married

“19 years!” he said proudly as he reflected. His wife had died six years ago while he was deployed. I listened quietly as told me what happened.

His voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears as he came to the end of his story by saying:

A soldier isn’t supposed to lose a wife; a wife loses her soldier in war. It kills me every single day.

Lt. Ron had been honorably discharged two years later. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He had been living with his only son after he returned home from his service. Ten months before I met the Lieutenant, he lost his son, too.

He has no family. He’d been living on the street for eight months.

As I left McDonald’s that day, I didn’t ignore the opportunity to give back to someone who had given and sacrificed so much for so many.

I opened my wallet and I gave all that was in it. I wish I could have given him more.

He’s Not the Only One

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Policy and Planning, in 2009, studies reflected the number of living veterans to be 23,440,000.

Do you know how many of those veterans are receiving benefits and help through the government and country they served to protect?

8,493,700 Veterans

Not even half of the men and women who have sacrificed, suffered and served!

Remember Our Veterans

Stand behind our veterans every day, not just today. Remember them throughout the end of the year and as you plan your Thanksgiving dinner. Remember them as you warm your hands by the fire this winter and watch your children’s faces light up as they open their gifts Christmas day.

All our veterans have sacrificed something. All the soldiers that are still serving will be veterans one day and every single one of them have a family.

Many have served. Many have given. Many are still fighting.

Some gave all they had. They gave their lives.

I salute every veteran and our active military personnel. Because of you, we have our freedom. Thank you for your service to this country.

We do not say it enough. We do not do enough!

May we rise together to change it.


If you enjoyed this post, please hit “like” and share it. Thanks for reading! Check out the links below and help support our veterans! 

Wounded Warrior Project

Mercury Housing

U.S. Dept. Veteran Affairs Donate/Volunteer 

VeteransMatter.Org

Or Text: VETS to 41444


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