No its not another Dr. Seuss rhyme. One of the things that a lot of us struggle with coming back, beyond drinking ,having PTSD and mTBI. Is that we struggle with identity. I have talked about this before, the idea of, I was Sergeant Snuffy but, now I am student 13,453 sitting in the back of the class with a pissed off look on my face. So I forged out in my previous rant about this, that you have to sit down and solidify a new identity. You have break everything back down to core values and build yourself back from square one.
In a lot of ways this is also very therapeutic because it removes some of your internal labels. In this tear down process, you take away a lot of the bad labels, like broke, weak, PTSD, crazy, baby-killer, mercenary, and all the other fun things that someone called you in passing, that stuck to the wall and hung. Whats important is to hang onto the good labels, hard-ass, warrior, brother, hero, honorable, loyal, strong. Pack those things in the ruck, just like when you field strip an MRE, the napkin and salt can hit the back of the trash can, the Tabasco is definetely coming, stuff that funky bread and cheese in your cargo pocket and move out. Same concept, don’t need that, need this.
Whats more important is that once you have solidified those core values, you actually have to act on them. Thats the hard part. This is where the personality really starts to set in and the new Identity, the post-war post-military id becomes the only one. It can be a rough process, with some serious competing desires going on. This is where you dig in and fortify your position. Discipline and motivation are key. Delayed gratification is always better than giving in to the immediate. “You really want another drink huh, sorry your ID says you know how to handle yourself. No drink for you dummy now put it down and step away from the bar.” Want to play video games huh, that doesn’t fly with that whole “college grad” thing, back away from the controller. If you make it through the settling point things get easy for a while. You get more comfortable with the post-war persona. You start to see things in yourself you haven’t seen in your years, like discovering what food you actually like (unfortunately for Allison). But then a bomb drops on your little world of one simple identity.
The path splits. Typical, happens all the time in life. However you just settled in to this thing and now you are faced with two bigger splits. Part of you is looking back at where you just came from and all that has happened; part of you looks ahead at the fork in the road. Do you go left, right, sit down and make house where you stand, or head for the wood line and hope no one pops lume rounds?
The answers to these questions are based largely in who you are after coming home. For me I never choose outright. I recon running each path down a little bit to try and get a view and sometimes I try to take them both on at the same time by splitting them down the middle. Which brings me to the newest label in my little arsenal, pseudo-workaholic. You might be scratching your head on this one, what the heck is a pseudo-workaholic? Its where you like the idea of being as involved as possible but once hip deep hate how incredibly busy you have made yourself. The core values though, the foundation that the house is built on can never be betrayed, you do that and it goes from stone pillars to a house of cards. Make your decisions, make them well, carve your path.
Game on it is. To be or not to be is not the question, the question is when you are about to cease to be, do you believe you be-ed enough. Thing 1 or thing 2, I choose not, I’d rather be a little of that and dash of this, and definitely some of that. A little Robert Frost to end it.
The Road not Taken- Robert Frost
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,