26 August 2014

The phoenix

The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, 
and still defying fortune's spite, revive from ashes and rise.  
- Miguel de Cervantes
Jordan (May 2007)
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what and how much to share on this blog. Obviously, I have given you the origins of my injury, answers to FAQs, my wranglings with the Veterans Affairs' red tape and some insight into my life, recovery and training. I've also shared some stories of others who are friends and mentors, and who inspired me to take this journey.

But, in the interest of being honest and hoping that others will find their way forward when feeling overburdened or stressed, I will admit that this past month was difficult for me. I don't ask for help much, whether due to my upbringing or innate character/personality traits, I don't know; probably a combination of both. I don't share much about my childhood, college days or even early adulthood, even to close friends, and I realized that this created an interesting perception of me when I entered the Marine Corps. I don't really have anything of which I am ashamed, certainly, we've all made mistakes, but I have never felt need to reveal everything, either, although I am pretty transparent, which gives the illusion that one might think they know all about me, when just about the opposite is true. Weird juxtaposition, huh?

I will say that if there is something negative going on in my life, I do everything possible to disentangle myself from it, right there and then, which sometimes leads to a couple of weeks both solution-seeking and of disgorging whatever is eating at me from my person until it is resolved. That's how I work; it's definitely not a method for everyone, but I can't hold on to the trouble, let it fester, shrug it off. I have to air out the grievance, work through the issue and find a resolution, and I most often do this on my own, although not always in a vacuum. I am a communicator and I know when I get in these modes it can seem as though I am reiterating an early argument, but I am simply walking around the map, looking for what I haven't seen, seeking answers and logical ways to solve what has become a vexation. 

There are those rare times when all my analytical grindings fail and emotion creeps in, and truly, this is when my mechanisms flounder. Growing up, if I didn't do it to help myself, no one else was going to help me, so there was little utility in getting emotional about it; I had to just find a way. In addition, I was wary of help, as it always seemed conditional, predicated on an expected return. In the Marine Corps, a lot of it was "put up and shut up" and deal with it, whether you thought it was a raw deal was immaterial. And, despite the fact that as pilots, we relied on each other, there was fierce competition, so asking for help was often seen as lacking in capability. So, with all of that being reinforced, coupled with my chronic mistrust of the intentions of others, a self-solution always seemed like the best solution. 

I was pointedly reminded about two Sundays ago that it is not. I'd been recently grappling with multiple things and they finally came to a head; I ended up making several phone calls because I just needed to have someone on the other end who I thought might understand. I spent over two hours on the phone that night with a friend whom I have known since my entry into the Corps in 2002, a Silver Star recipient who is no stranger to being in the shit and having to deal with the aftermath of it. The big thing he said to me that night was, 'Thank you for calling me and thank you for telling me all those things; I didn't know that about you. And I'll tell you what, you need to forgive yourself for not being as perfect as you think you should be. You need to realize that pretty much anyone else who's gone through what you've been through, not just in these past few years, but in your life - yeah, they're dead. You are here because you desire to to give, just as much as you desire to achieve, there is so much more you will be and that's astounding to me because who you are is really incredible, seriously.'

He didn't need to say that; I wasn't looking for an ego boost, I was simply hoping someone would tell me the emotional tsunami would recede and a steady tidal rhythm would return. I have been keeping those words inside my head when I have a bad moment - forgive - knowing that while I am fully capable of dissecting and engineering a stoic solution, sometimes just forgiving and releasing yields the result I have been seeking. 

Perspective on the size of the mountain rocks. (Jordan 2007)

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