Letting the numbness fade and seeing past the pain. #23aday is #23toomany

Letting the numbness fade and seeing past the pain. #23aday is #23toomany

I wanted to make a post today as a follow up to my previous one. My last post was a bit more on the loss side. Today I want to go past that. This is more about acceptance.

Like I said in my previous post, I don’t grieve well. I’ve lost quite a few loved ones and have never properly grieved for some. But when you finally do, it’s something you’ll wonder what took so long. I still struggle with many of them, maybe my own words will get through to me. You always give the best advice to others, right?

Sometimes therapy is the best option. It’s a good option, as long as you find a therapist you are comfortable talking these things out with. I don’t like talking, perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen a blog to get out some of my own feelings.

Grieving isn’t actually what many think it should be. Sometimes it’s laughing at jokes your departed friend or family member would have loved. Sometimes it’s driving out to old places to just to sit and remember.  When a toast is raised at events, you keep them in your mind knowing they would have either loved or laughed at the speech. It’s not morbid, it’s remembering and honoring them and their life.

You see, I’m a firm believer that they are always with you, but not in the way most people think. Our friends and family make impressions on our lives. Those impressions or memories can only fade if you let them. Don’t let them fade, look back and remember those moments for what they were. That’s how your loved ones are always with you. The impressions are lasting, our lives are not.

This is not something that will happen immediately. You can’t force it. One day, you’ll find yourself smiling instead of crying at your memories. It could take, days, months, or even years. The process isn’t a one size fits all. Notice all the “sometimes” I wrote earlier?

What’s the right way to grieve someone? There isn’t. In other cultures, they celebrate their dead with massive parties. Some will wear the clothes of their dead for days or weeks. Some cultures will keep the bones for good luck and fortune. These are ways people cope, and none are right or wrong.

There will always be a feeling of loss and sadness. When that feeling is less than the appreciation of having been around that person in life, well that’s when you’ve hit acceptance. Or at least, that’s how I know I’ve hit it.

–#23toomany. It stands for the 22 veterans and one active duty who commit suicide every day. It’s not a political statement, it’s my way of honoring my friends, brothers, and sisters. I love you and miss you all.

 

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When the numbness hits. #23aday is #23toomany.

When the numbness hits. #23aday is #23toomany.

I thought I was ready to start getting into the more “real” parts of my story with this post. On my last post I ended it by saying “Side note: Every entry will end with #23toomany. It stands for the 22 veterans and one active duty who commit suicide every day. It’s not a political statement, it’s my way of honoring my friends, brothers, and sisters. I love you and miss you all.”

We lost another brother in arms here the other day. I can’t count how many that’s been since I’ve been here the last almost ten years. I’m not really a religious person, agnostic maybe? We’ll go further into that later. If any of you are religious, say a prayer for this Sailor’s family and friends. If you’re like me, send your thoughts and wishes. If you have another way, please share. I’m in pieces and I didn’t even know him.

My first encounter with military suicide was when I had just turned 23 years old. I was in my house with two good friends, both Marines; we were playing with my dogs. A few hours later one of those friends took his own life. For so long I blamed myself. Then I was angry, but the one thing was the sadness of looking at the spot where we all were that night. We were laughing and joking and I would give the world to go back and save him.

Is it normal to hate everything and everyone, but want to save them all? That’s how I feel. It’s an unreasonable feeling. I’m angry. We lose too many every day. If they’re not directly in your social network, they are in a friend’s. It’s how it works. We’re a family. Sometimes we’re broken, and the system isn’t in place to fix us.

When I was in therapy for my PTSD, I was told the old saying “time heals all wounds is a load of shit.” It is. Time is nothing. We can’t touch it, we can’t go back, we really can’t move forward. We live in the now. Time doesn’t heal anything. Time may make you forget, but it does not heal. Coping heals. Talking heals. Reaching out when you feel alone heals. I don’t care if you are in the military, a veteran, or a civilian if you need to talk I beg you to leave a comment for me. I may not always respond right away (can’t blog at work), but I do care and so do others. Even in your darkest moments, please know someone cares. I’ve been in those shoes, too. The only one that cared was my dog, and she kept me alive.

I don’t grieve well. I bottle it up. When my Marine friend died there was a small service in the chapel on base for us military brothers and sisters (we’re not friends, we’re family). I went there for the first time a couple of weeks ago since his service in 2009. I laid my head on the table they rested the coffin on and cried. That was the first time in years. Find a way to grieve lost friends and family. It’s not easy, I still don’t know how but I’m trying.

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” No, I respectfully disagree. Suicide is an act of extreme desperation, hopelessness, and the feeling others would be better off without you. “Suicide is an act of cowardice.” No, wrong again. If you’ve never lost someone or been on the brink yourself, you can keep that incorrect assumption to yourself. And if you don’t, respectfully, shut the fuck up.

To my brothers and sisters still here: I love you and I’m sorry we deal with this every day. It doesn’t get easier.

For my brothers and sisters who have passed: You can stand down. Your watch is over now. Rest in peace. Til Valhalla.

I’ll continue to end posts like this every day I write:

#23toomany. It stands for the 22 veterans and one active duty who commit suicide every day. It’s not a political statement, it’s my way of honoring my friends, brothers, and sisters. I love you and miss you all.

In case the picture at the top is cut off:

suicidevictims

Where to begin? Back to the basics.

Where to begin? Back to the basics.

That’s the hard part. Where do you tell a story that you’re not sure how it began? I think the basics will do.

I’m 28 years old, currently married to the man of my dreams, former military, and trying to conquer my past while also giving other women, and men, a voice. I joined the military just shy of my 19th birthday. I graduated high school at 17, tried a bit of college, but I always knew I would end up in the military.

This is where it starts to get tricky. I found out the day I graduated basic training that someone I loved very dearly, like a second father, was slowly dying of terminal cancer. He knew I would have stayed, so everyone promised not to tell me. On the proudest day of my life, I was hit with the biggest bombshell I had ever faced.

Fast forward and I’m at my first duty station in central California. I grew up on the Florida Gulf shore and was now staring out at the Pacific. My tech school was a year a and half long, we were only permitted leave for Christmas and our class break, ours was the beginning of July 2007.

This is the beginning of my story. This is my turning point. I’m new to blogging (obviously I have a lot to learn, this page is so bleak). I’m also new to letting feelings out and sharing things I’ve kept hidden. Building walls and keeping people out are what I do best. That’s probably why I have such a hard time learning to cope with PTSD (non-combat) from what comes in the next chapters in my life.

Short and sweet into. The next bit in my life is a lot more complicated. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Side note: Every entry will end with #23toomany. It stands for the 22 veterans and one active duty who commit suicide every day. It’s not a political statement, it’s my way of honoring my friends, brothers, and sisters. I love you and miss you all.