Bad Days and Compassion
Ever had a bad day? I mean a day that you wouldn't wish on your enemy. (Of course we shouldn't have enemies..but you know what I mean!) I'd like to think I've had more than my fair share. Sometimes really great days turn into bad days. Take June 15, 2007. My birthday! I was deployed to Baghdad with the American Forces Network aka...AFN. I was running the radio department during this deployment. I had the privilege of hosting the morning show. My DJ name was Kasbah! My show...dare I say...was a welcome break from the stresses of war. For my birthday show...I held no stops. I had several VIPs, celebrities, and family members call me. Of course it was perfectly planned out and appeared to be a massive show of love for me on my birthday. Oh the power and magic of radio. My deployment buddy, bunk mate, and friend George also was a June 15th baby. He was my afternoon DJ. Every morning we had to inspect our Humvee's. As George was finishing up his inspection, the early detection system went off indicating we were under attack. This usually meant mortars, rockets and or rocket propelled grenades were headed in our general direction. George began to run for cover. Several of us had come out to make sure George heard the sirens. As George was running for cover...a mortar began to fall from the sky...in a blink George dunked behind a T-Wall. It was too close for comfort for anyone. George was OK. Later that afternoon we got our morning crew together. Micah was the driver, George was in the passenger seat...and I was in the back. Micah had forgot something as we pulled out...so he stopped the Humvee and ran back into the shop to get it. When he returned, we headed out. As we got close to our first security check-point...time stopped. Then in a blink it went from stop to super slow motion. Sounds were blurred as if my head was under water. The security guards began running for cover...but they looked like they were running in stop-motion. At my 1 -O'Clock I saw what I describe as one of the most beautiful orange glow I've ever seen. As it crossed in front of us time began to return to normal speed...and then the impact. The car it hit...flattened. The four souls inside...obliterated. If Micah had not forgot his bag...it would have been us. That night we had two more attacks...with the rockets and mortars landing withing a 100 yards from where we slept. Although I am here today to write about that day...to me...it was really a bad day! Days like this were very typical during the Surge of Operations.
Bad days aren't only associated with being attacked...physically! Sometimes we are mentally or even spiritually attacked. These attacks sometimes come in the form of a pill, a drink, or thoughts. Often times when we have a relapse to bad habits, or past trauma, we consider it a bad day. These bad days can turn into bad weeks...maybe longer.
I'd like to share an email I sent to a fellow Warrior friend of mine. Sean's recent Save A Warrior 'bubble' had popped! He was feeling really down o himself. A bubble occurs when you're surrounded by a group of like-minded people with little to no outside distractions. I liken these popped bubbles to the feeling you get after you return from a vacation and have to go back to work...only multiply it by a factor of 10.
Good Morning Sean. First of all...I know what bad days are. I know what they look like, smell like, taste like, and sound like. Having bad days is OK. What is now OK is giving into to the flase hope that previously used failed techniques will somehow work...THIS TIME! They wont! Destruction only leads to destruction. I also want to tell you that is it OK to make mistakes. It might be hard to believe...but I would encourage ALL of my Airmen to make mistakes. To me...if you're not making mistakes...you're not trying. On the flipside...if you make the same mistake twice...then you're not listening. That is a totally different issue.
I too will go days without meditating. Sometimes because I'm so wrapped inside my head, (ADD/PTSD/Depression) somtimes because my special needs son's needs are out-weighing mine. I've not touched him in over two years. I often find myself sitting on the couch...like I am now wondering...why in the hell am I even here? So...I understand the darkness you speak of.
So...like any good SNCO worth his or her weight in salt...I would say...Get your shit together! That is the easiest thing to do. I think you know that. It is the "HOW" that you seek. For me...it is real simple. MOVE! Move...in any direction but backwards. IF it didn't work the first time...it isn't going to work the second time.
Meditate. HELL...if you miss a day...don't stress. But you know damn well...that if you can meditate twice a day for a week straight just how GREAT you feel! Make it a goal...not a life stopper. I just got a new app that 'bings' when it is time to meditate. It allows me to share it on Facebook. I already share too much on Facebook and most likely half of my friends have already blocked most of what I share...so I decided not to share this...but for you???? Maybe! That level of accountability might just be your ticket. I bet half of the SaW folks would comment every time they saw you post that you meditated as encouragement.
DO YOGA! I teach yoga three times a week. I truly believe this is my saving grace. The breath work, mindfulness, movement and community of it make my day. I've been practicing yoga since 1999. I really believe that if I didn't have this in my life...my PTS and everything else that goes with it would be out of control.
WRITE IT OUT! I've been doing a metric ton of writing lately. I've always been a journalist, but now I focus on me...not others. It is very cathartic! SaW has a blog that I set up.
Most importantly...TREAT YOUR BODY LIKE A TEMPLE. There is an old computer term called GIGO. It stands for Garbage In...Garbage Out. Eat better, drink better...live better!
OK...I'll let you sit on this for awhile. _()_Namaste!
Please stay tuned for more from my Pursuit of Compassion. IF you would like to submit what you think Compassion is, send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a picture of you and maybe a few extra pics.