Wounded Warriors & Fighting The War Within

I’m watching TV on a lazy Sunday morning and there’s an ad for the Wounded Warrior Project. My subconscious hears the words Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I realize to my horror that I’ve become desensitized to these terms. I’ve heard them too many times.

Jesus Christ…how did the word TRAUMA become something that is not only part of our daily vernacular but something that fails to register in our collective conscious and conscience?

Traumatic. Brain. Injury. Permanent damage to one’s brain due to sustaining severe head injuries. hellish mood swings, memory impairment, difficulties in processing information, loss of skills, talents, abilities.

Post. Traumatic. Stress. Disorder. The psychological hell of hyper vigilance, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and having your life overshadowed by what you survived.

Ten years of our most recent war. Every survivor is left with a lifetime of scars.  

Veteran’s Day – what we do that day depends on our experiences and how they’ve impacted us. I will spend it the way I spend most every Monday – working. I’ll be treating good people who survived bad things. Most of them were never soldiers. They survived hell domestically in the forms of child abuse & neglect, sexual assault, and other forms of violence.

I wish that everyone who survived understood that we can relate not just to folks who went through what we went through but to anyone who has been through hell in any form. We all fight the same battles. We’re all our own worst enemies.

Most of us who survived (foreign and/or domestic forms of hell) feel apart from the world. We’re in your workplace, your church and organizations. We’re there in body. We care. We’re conflicted. We’re trying to be kind and composed as we fight great battles within ourselves.

Imagine living with the feeling that your brain is working against you.

The past is never over because it fucks with us today. Peace is unattainable while we’re at war with ourselves. We come to a place of desperation over and over again…until we see that the only way to win is to surrender to a power greater than ourselves.

The good people of Alcoholics Anonymous offer us the key:

“Religion is for people who are afraid to go to hell and spirituality is for those of us who have already been there.”

For too many of us, religion didn’t give us what it offered – the feeling of being a part of something greater than ourselves. It was supposed to be a community and it was supposed to embrace us. Instead it was just one more place we felt we didn’t belong. The Holy Ghost didn’t take away our demons as promised.

Spirituality is about connection – to good things – to good people. It’s about what becomes possible when we let people who are misfits like us love us. It’s about having a seed of doubt that maybe things can be different/better. It’s about taking a leap of faith that there is something and It cares.

Where was a Higher Power when we were suffering? Where was It when we lost the people we loved? He/She/It was waiting for us to accept that what people do is a manifestation of their free will and not anything that He/She/It ever wanted or commanded.

William James said that, “Faith is a bet you can’t lose.” The things we survived and the people who bestowed them robbed us of faith in ourselves, in others, and in a Higher Power.

“I’ve been searchin’, wonderin’, thinkin’
Lost and lookin’ all my life
I’ve been wounded, jaded, loved and hated
I’ve wrestled wrong and right
I’ve been readin’, writin’, prayin’, fightin’
I guess I would be still…
Yeah, that was until
I knew God’s Will” – Martina McBride “God’s Will”

Here’s a small leap of faith:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Spirituality is the only way we ever become truly free.

To every person who has ever served – thank you!

To every person fighting a great battle – please know that you are not alone. May you recognize the kindred spirits around you and embrace them.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.