‘Well, yes I am,’ said Frodo. ‘It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me. It was a year ago today.’
‘Alas! There are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,’ said Gandalf.
‘I fear it may be so with mine,’ said Frodo. ‘There is no real going back. Though I come to the Shire, it will not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest.’
Gandalf did not answer.”
Violent anger, often uncontrolled and seemingly out of nowhere, filled my waking moments (and often my dreams) with fear at who I would hurt next. My beloved wife, Kathy, was often the recipient of these outbursts; the one person on the planet who demonstrated far above all others her sacrificial love for me, yet I often doubted her as well. Suicidal ideations filled my daily thoughts; it just all seemed so pointless to go on like that.
In an amazing series of ‘coincidences,’ over a period of two years in which He kept me from harming myself (instances of how close I came still cause me to shudder), I made the acquaintance of and became friends with another volunteer at the USO-NC Center at Raleigh-Durham airport. She invited me to participate in outreach to the military and Veteran community in our area with resources that would help them. During that time I began researching PTS through many of those resources and one meeting met Amy Gressler of Harbor Reins. She is a licensed counselor and equestrian who has started a program for Veterans and active military to help them resolve issues relating to their service by working with horses. The idea intrigued me as I had, with Kathy, ran a boarding stable for horses for a time when at UNC and remembered how calming being around these majestic animals could be.
Combining these two activities did much to bring me out of what had been a decade's long funk and began (yes, began) the process of healing. As with my friend Frodo, the memories will always be there as they are a part of the person I am today. Through what I have experienced and especially through my faith in Messiah Jesus, the dreams are fading (really, all but gone) and the angry outbursts are gone. But, just as with Frodo, my healing will always be incomplete in this life. There will always be an echo of the wounding, the long burden within me. Thankfully the effect it has on me is dramatically decreased, but it will always be there until I find my final rest.
Until then, the journey continues.