When I arrived at the "Grand Canyon" I stopped at the "Grand View" overlook. It was crowded with tourists as I had been warned, but hiking the trail that was suggested just didn't seem safe with the cougar crossing sign so close to the trail. I walked over to the left of the overlook where there was one woman standing alone. I stood a few feet away from her looking over the canyon. Within moments she looked over at me and said that I must let her take my picture out on that rock. I smiled and agreed. I climbed out, not too near the ledge, and suddenly got nervous. The woman saw this in me and suggested balancing on three points like she learned in the Army. My heart felt a pang and I looked up and asked if she served. Sure enough, she was a Gulf War Veteran.
She took my picture and I climbed back up to where she was standing. I formally introduced myself and shook her hand. We talked for about an hour about her service and the work that I do here with "Peaceful Warriors" and how I came to be so passionate about helping veterans with PTSD and trauma.
It turns out that she, too, is in service to veterans in Kansas.
We talked at length about PTSD and the plight of veterans trying to find ways to heal their physical ailments, but also their mental and spiritual ailments. It was no mistake that I met her.
I believe we land right where we are supposed to because there is someone there to teach us something.
Before we parted, she said she felt she must hug me and thank me for the work I do.
We hugged and went on our way.
I went up to the next overlook and we met again. The conversation became evermore complex and intricate. We learned an awful lot from each other and after a good three hours or so, it was time to say our final goodbye. She felt she must thank me for the time I gave her and she gave me a mason jar of homemade soup she had in the cooler she was traveling with. I think that was the best soup I've ever had because it came from someone who knows the path of trauma and recovery and is now helping others recover from the same path.
I have spoken a number of times about this brotherhood and sisterhood of PTSD. Many times when you have PTSD you feel like you are on the path alone. It's like the network and camaraderie you had while you were in the service isn't there anymore because you are now with families and friends who may not fully understand why you feel and react the way that you do. It's important to know that you are not on this path alone. There are so many suffering in silence because it is so hard to step up and say what feels wrong. It's terribly difficult to put into to words that you just don't feel "right". It's hard to say why you feel the way you do and it's hard to know what it is that is so "angry" on the inside.
Here at "Peaceful Warriors" you don't need to say what's wrong. You just need to give yourself permission to feel the way you do and make space for yourself to grow through your trauma, instead of being imprisoned by it.