Happy New Year again!
HA! That’s right; this is the first day of the Federal New Year. Isn’t it nice that we get so many chances to start again?! In fact, every second is a do-over. As long as you are breathing and the heart is pumping, there is another chance. Isn’t that a great thought! There have been times in my life when I thought I shoulda done that differently, I woulda done that differently, I coulda done that differently, if only…
But it is HOPE that reminds me, I am the only one who can change and I can behave differently. That does not mean that I can change the consequences from my actions of the past. It’s like getting in debt. If I charge dinner on a credit card because I don’t have the cash next month, it accrues interest and I owe even more even though I ate it a month ago. And the interest costs build until I take care of it in full. I do have the opportunity to take care of it AND I learn not to charge something I can’t pay. Sometimes it takes us a while to “pay in full” for our past behaviors but that doesn’t mean we have to compound the interest. Other times, others charge things and hold us responsible for the interest. Because we were there, we accept the charges and then we may never catch up with the interest. There is a saying, “Don’t look back. You aren’t going that way.” Easier said than done, right?!
I have spent quite a bit of time counseling Veterans who don’t like what is behind them and feel like they can never get away from it. They have a real regret for the outcome of following orders, or falling into the despair of loss and grief over things they saw and did in the past; actions taken to survive don’t always level out when you aren’t in the crisis any more. In some cases, experts call this a moral injury. It is different from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) although PTSD may co-exist. Generally, it is a sense of rightness versus wrongness and there is no self-forgiveness available for times when the Veteran believes he violated his own moral code at the hand of training, orders, or other crisis situations. Sometimes, just being there was enough to cause the feeling of obligation, guilt and regret. It shadows every day and affects every relationship in the Veterans life. Anger, depression, anxiety and the weight of guilty secrets can lead to hopelessness and despair. Spouses are damaged, children are hurt, parents pushed away, friends lost, and relationships in general disappear. These experiences are complex but I promise you, there is a way to escape.
If you are in this situation, or can relate to these feelings, please reach out. We can help you with a New Year, a do-over, a way to catch up with the interest building in your life so that instead you are making positive deposits in your life for yourself and those around you who are missing you.
Reach out, take one more step. You’ve gotten this far, together we can make it right. Get HOPE.
Capture your Happy New Year! Cheers!