Just Won't Let Me Go
After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan on four tours and seeing the lads I look after and care for being hurt and die, I couldn't take any more. I quit from the army as soon as I got back.
The thing that sent me over was me and my best mate getting in a warrior to go out on patrol, laughing and joking--and then coming back in an ambulance him dying next to me. Leaving was the hardest decision I had made in my life. I had to leave my brother behind in the same battalion and it hurt so badly.
When I got home most of my friends and family were supportive. My dad was disappointed, being ex-army too, but he cared the same.
From waking up in the hospital to today--pretty much every night in there, over and over again, the two things that keep me grounded are my loving and extremely understanding partner and my brother.
I hope that anyone reading this knows that there are people out there to help through the times the nightmares just wont let go.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hi Mitch, and thanks for sharing your story here--and thank you for the risk, hardship and loss you went through in your military service.
It does not matter when or why you got out. What matters is that you put your heart, soul and body into what you did, and you pay the price for it to this day. I have watched my father struggle with PTSD all of my life (61 years), and he says it still bothers him. His nightmares have almost stopped, but not completely. It has been 64 years since he served in World War II.
I asked him one time if he had gone to get that young soldier out of the fox hole--he said, "What do you mean?" I said, "As the man you are today, imagine yourself going back in time to your war years. Go find that young 24 year old version of you, scared and lonely, serving his country. Put your hand on his shoulder and say, 'It's time to come home, John. The war is over.'"
He told me later that he did that many times, working with different memories he had from the war, and that it really helped him with the nightmares. They even stopped completely for a while. You might want to give that a try, with some of your traumatic war memories.
Use these imagery processes and revisit your most traumatic memories with love and compassion for your soldier self. Just imagine yourself as the man you are today, and put your hand on the shoulder of the younger you, saying, "It's over now. You can come home. You served well. You are good. Let's go." And bring him home to where you live now. Show him your friends and family that love you, where you live, and your favorite things.
You're a good man, Mitch. That's why you wrote this story, offering encouragement to others. And that's why you love your brother and your partner and the other people who are important to you.
Be at peace with yourself. Believe in yourself. You are worthy.
Well done, Mitch.
My very best to you,
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