What’s Love got to do with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress)?
The feelings they generate stem from that same Core within, at least, the same Core within me.
I became aware that I “wear my emotions on my sleeve,” and that events outside my control can trigger negative emotions; conversely, efforts within my control can kindle a Love to broaden and create a foundation to build on. It came to me while dreaming and later while in meditation, that I was an emotional child, one who felt love and joy immediately, and fear and loneliness just as quick. My childhood had few shades of gray before I was able to reason with my mind, and I pretty much viewed the world through my five senses; things were either black or white, good or not so good, happy versus sad.
“My mind clothed me,” is the revelation that came to me. I needed a covering to protect against the onslaught of new stimuli, new circumstances, and I took on a disquise, a mask, to hide the real emotions the child beneath the covering experienced, I learned from my self.
I realized I could safely show love through amusement, by being a class clown, getting a laugh and making people I like feel good. I was bright and can still turn a phrase to perk up and cheer the grouchy Oscar in most any group. I learned that I could touch the love within me by surrendering my wants and desires for a greater purpose, that is, helping others to touch the Love within their “selves” and feel good about themselves.
I also remember the black eyes I would come home with following a fight when I reacted with anger, feeling hurt and wanting to hurt another with my fists mostly out of fear and ignorance from usually a false sense of humiliation and a much truer sense of frustration.
Both the Love and Hate (creator of anger, resentment and fear) flowed from the same source, somewhere inside of the child within me. Each emotion had (and still has) the ability to get my heart racing . . . but at different paces . . . and for far different reasons.
The quickness to anger became a reliable weapon when I served as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam. I used it as a “rush” to spur me to action, any action, rather than flee or freeze in face of danger. It came quick and offered a protection that I became proud of while at the end of my tour when I could say that no one under my command was ever killed in the line of fire.
I pushed Love, the more gentle counterpart, to the side. There was no need for such an emotion when circumstances demanded life and death decisions of me. Love would come later, in the arms of a woman; through the exchange of a loud battle cry for the soft sultry whisper of an admirer; in the time of peace, not while engaging in a fire-fight.
This urge to “attack,” compete, and excel in my life’s work was a great carry-over from military to civilian life. The same traits, I later learned however, would eventually take their toll, corroding the lines separating a jungle warrior and a glorified desk jockey who too easily obtained results by yelling , cursing, exploding, and getting filled with rage and a wish to lash out no matter what the cost.
Most people preferred having a bastard and not a nice guy to represent them in court. I filled the bill admirably, treating each jury trial as a skirmish, experiencing one flashback upon another, yet using that fuel of relentlessness to zealously represent my client, abusing one witness after another, even if it meant getting put in jail or kicked from a courtroom.
It hurts to write the above without experiencing sweaty palms, a racing heart and hyper-alertness. That was me then, and, I am sorry to say, that is still a part of me now, deeply submerged within me through PTSD coping mechanisms.
But, now I am switching to — and I am writing about – – the more welcome and life-sustaining part of that hidden child inside, entering the well of boundless love. I can mine that trove of love as quickly as it takes to close my eyes, type these letters, and swim in a pool of contentment, easiness and total relaxation.
Love is inside all of us. We must choose to seek it out and cultivate it to flourish and grow. I can touch it and help it spread its shoots throughout my body, sending warm, tingling, soothing feelings, particularly to the most stressed parts, like the neck, the shoulder, the hands, perhaps the jaws and eye socket.
Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself – if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself – it is very difficult to take care of another person. — Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
I have learned to choose positive emotions to dwell upon. In her book, “Positivity,” Barbara L Fredrickson, PH.D, points out the use of the fragile, yet life-rewarding positive emotions could create better health (mentally, physically as well as emotionally) and add up to 10 years to our lives!
These forms of positivity include the following 10 “feelings:” joy . . . gratitude . . . serenity . . . interest . . . hope . . . pride . . . amusement . . . inspiration . . . awe . . . and last, but not least . . . love.
Try focusing on any one of them for extended periods of time when a difficult or negative situation crops up. It takes practice, but the mere attempt to redirect your awareness will begin to have immediate results in finding the Beloved within. Let’s hear it for slowing down the heart beat and lowering the blood pressure, not to mention pride and amusement you will have when you relate your accomplishment to any “nattering nabob of negativism.”