A Lifetime of Emotional Pain
Healing came very late to me. Like so many of my peers from the post WWII generation, we were born to trauma from our fathers who served during WWII and Korean War. As a result, too many of us left home early with scars from profoundly dysfunctional homes.
So, we marched head on into the Vietnam era in the 60s early 70s, already morally injured living with chaos as children of warriors. Sadly, for too many young souls, there was no escape from the compounded tragedy of trauma as veterans ourselves.
Vietnam warriors came home with with the embedded scars of child abuse and the horror of hard combat. A perfect storm of PTSD, major depression, including physical injuries that plagued our heroes for a lifetime.
All too often we lived a lifetime with mental illness without awareness of the horrific and painful symptoms without help or treatment. Consequently, too many lives and families have been destroyed without any idea of the roots of the 24/7 heart breaking pain. Broken hearts and damaged souls can be deadly if not provided love and support.
Finding Your Lost Soul
So what can old dudes like me do about taking back your lost soul and achieving some modest measure of peace of mind during the golden years. This assumes those who struggle with symptoms survived long enough to earn the privilege of old age and is open to the gift of healing. It is a tragedy to know that unhealthy habits resulting from substance abuse and alcohol addiction often end lives too early.
I was shocked to be told by my doctor at age 55 that I would risk early death in my 60s if I didn’t stop abusing alcohol. So, without hesitation, I stopped drinking alcohol on August 11, 2002. This moment of a rude awakeing was a true blessing and gift that turned my life around. I’m so grateful and believe my life was saved in that fateful moment.
Is there even hope for some relief from the demons that haunt us for a life time? For me, it felt like my injured soul was hijacked and held hostage. I didn’t know calm or peace of mind ever until later in life. Is healing even possible later in life when denial holds on like the jaws of a hungry shark? Imagine… the 24/7 lifelong emotional torment and treachery. It’s a very strong ‘locked and loaded’ emotional rollercoaster to most who live with persistent emotional pain. The worst of it is you can’t talk about it. No one would understand or listen anyway.
Love and Hope
Even with the the seemingly overwhelming challenges there is hope. But it’s hard work, even harder when you become open and hungry for peace of mind in these later years. In my more recent experience ‘trauma informed care’ has proven to be a healthy “whole patient” strategy to rescue your soul, keeping the demons at a safe distance. Peace of mind is a blessing to the aging population.
This has been a spiritual journey for me, and one that has opened my mind to God again as a critical step in healing. People who suffer from moral injury tend to feel unworthy of God, including going to church. My father was this way for his entire life. All of this leaves a hole in the heart and soul of those who suffer from serious trauma.
Once passing the readiness test and getting past the nagging denial phase, trauma informed care appears the best chance for long term treatment and recovery, no matter your age. Make sure you have a primary care physician, preferably a DO, to help facilitate the exceedingly challenging process of mending your soul.
Healing is a Journey of Love
It takes a team, a loving community, and most importantly for me, a loving spouse to keep me grounded. It is a tough assignment for loved ones at home, who all too often are affected by the symptoms of secondary PTSD and depression. Your life partner is a beautiful gift in healing, truly a life saving soul in my life. Pets are also a loving part of healing and are so loyal. Seek out everything that makes you feel alive. Avoid stressful and triggering activities as much as possible.
Start with finding a trauma informed psychiatrist to make the appropriate diagnosis and provide non narcotic medication options to help stabilize and stay calm. Calm is truly a gift from heaven for lifelong sufferers.
Next, with guidance from your primary care physician and psychiatrist, conduct a search for a trauma informed clinical therapist who is highly experienced and skilled at peeling back the onion of a lifetime of emotional baggage, and repressed memories. This is when you start to “empty the trash.” Treatment and recovery for post trauma stress requires expert guidance from a highly skilled compassionate therapist.
It is most important in long term mitigation of trauma events to have the loving support of your partner or spouse. Without consistent loving support at home in a safe environment, repairing your soul is too steep a mountain to climb alone without lots of love, empathy and compassion in your circle of caring friends and family.
Take the first step with the help and support from loved ones. It takes courage that comes with resilience from a lifetime of surviving one day at a time, and all the love you can muster each day. Because it is one day at a time…
All the best in healing with love… It takes a village.