• I can live another day

    by Donald K. Sanders

    I think the mind tries to repair itself after it experiences trauma, either physical or visual. In the blink of an eye something within your brain or your heart, I’m not sure which, shuts down and you go into shock. You are left in a blank, dumb world. You will find yourself oblivious to the rest of the world. You are unresponsive to all stimuli except maybe those mechanical thingys that will tell if you are alive or not.

    In time, when your mind has time to sort things out, you will be returned to the real world and you are free to associate with the rest of humanity. You will be semi-happy, able to function in society, go to work, even have a relationship in which you can give and receive love. The love you give won’t be as much as you would like to give, but it’s the best you can do.

    Some people will accept the limit of love that you give them but others won’t. I have been divorced twice for that very reason. Now, Therese, my wife of 27 years or so takes all that I can give and she seems to understand if things aren’t exactly right. She knows it isn’t her. She knows it is me and she works hard at trying to visualize what is going on inside her little, pea-brained, husband. I have to credit her with all that is good in my life today.

    I am getting off subject, as I often do when my mind seems to go numb for a few seconds. Like I said, a traumatized mind will enable you to function to a certain extent. The strength of your childhood family relations, the mindset of your parents and their parents before them, all contribute to what goes on inside your mind after trauma. A good, loving family life will bring you strength when you need it.

    Sometimes even the rich, loving, family environment is not enough to get you through trying times following disabling trauma of the mind. The father and the mother will be able to see the pain you’re in even though it is hidden from sight in the physical world. Somehow they know it’s there, but there is nothing they can do but give you love and try to understand. Trauma is capable of screwing up generations of family life.

    My family has scattered to the world. I do not know where many of them are or how they got there. I have brothers that have never seen my 22 year old son or even know that he exists. I am plagued by this constant sorrow that is overwhelming me at this very moment. It can be very bad at times and at its worst, it is unspeakable. Some take the easy way out but I cannot leave my family that easily behind. At least I have that much strength, probably given to me by my mother.

    I have a great love for the Veterans Administration. I am one of probably millions of veterans that go to them for help every day. They seem to spare no expense in their attempts to help me live as productive a life as I could. I know when I walk through those clinic doors I will see intelligent, caring, professionals that do all they are capable of doing for each and every veteran they treat. I can tell only my story when it comes to that.

    For many years it was extensive, one-on-one therapy with Dr. Janet Lial at Mather Field Veterans Mental Health Clinic. In the sessions we would sit face to face and she would try to get me to open up my mind just enough to let my demons escape. I think the theory is that if you can bring it up and relive the trauma, you will recognize it for what it is and release it. This should make your life easier to bear. It is only a theory. Believe me, Dr. Lial has a way of dredging even the darkest of memories from the far depths of the caverns at the bottom of your memory.

    I say again, I love the Veteran’s Administration. They do the best that they can do with such limited financial resources. I am grateful for the work that they do. Eternally grateful. My problem is, I don’t think that they can help me any more. I don’t want them to spend their funds on me. I want them to give my appointments to someone young and in need of help. I seem to have reached a place in my mind that is peaceful. I want to do good deeds for my community with the remaining time that I have. My children are all adults now and I have two grandchildren, Anthony and Sophia. I want to watch them grow and prosper for as long as I can.

    When they come to visit me I want to take them to the park by the creek that community volunteer groups and local people have so graciously made available to me. I cannot say to them how much I appreciate what they do for me. They give me peace that I so desperately need to stay among the living. For me, this is the best therapy I can possibly get and I don’t say this to pressure them. They know this, at least I hope they do. I can even tell my grandchildren how I helped and which trees I stuck in the ground.

    I think the mind tries to repair itself after it experiences trauma, either physical or visual. The fine work of the Putah Creek Council, The Solano County Water Agency, and the City of Winters has given me the opportunity to heal myself by planting trees and picking up garbage. I will do what no one else wants to do, anytime, anywhere. It is this work, above all else that helps me feel good about myself and when that happens, I know my mind is healing. I can live another day in peace.

    • Beautifully written Donald. I am so happy that you do find moments of peace and are willing to live every day and more. Your words bring to me sadness and joy and hope. All good towards healing the soul. A shout out to the VA for helping. I worked in their environment for 5 years and they do heal and help.

    • Madge,
      You are so kind and you don’t know how happy I am that someone reads the stuff that I write. To top that off, then you tell me that you like it. How cool is that? thanks.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • February 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm
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      The world is a better place because you are in it Don. Your writing and your life touch so many lives.

      • Hollye Dexter

      • February 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm
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      I’ve often found in my darkest moments that reaching out to others and helping where I can is lifesaving. Love is the best medicine. I know you do your best to give it. Do your best to receive it, too. You are worthy of it.

      Just saw the movie Hugo yesterday, and there was a line that stuck with me.
      “A machine has so many parts, and it can not work if it is missing one. This world is one great big machine, and every one of us is a necessary part that makes it all work.”

    • Thank you for speaking up, Don. Your words are vicarious healing for me and others. I have two “shrinks”: one takes away and the other gives and gives like you do. Gracias.

      • christy

      • February 6, 2012 at 7:54 am
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      This was so beautiful Don! I can totally visualize you walking along the creek, planting trees, and finding peace in it all – it warms my heart in such a wonderful way! You keep giving what you can, and like Hollye said take the love you receive because you are WORTHY of love!

      • Judy N

      • February 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm
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      Another moving column, Don. Thank you.

    • Donald, I love your writing because it feels so real and pure and vulnerable. Yes, it is sad, but hopeful, open and honest. I always feel your desire to connect on a deep level. You recognize the importance of giving and sharing. I’ve seen so many times in my life that those who find it within to extend themselves heal in a healthier way. Taking the attention off of ourselves while helping others opens our eyes and fills us with more compassion, which in turns heals us. At least that is how I feel. Thank you for exposing your feelings and sharing them with us.

    • Don – you are a very generous, compassionate and funny man! Thank you for both sharing your life and being responsive to mine. This give and take on iPinion is reassuring and healing for all of us!

      • Katie Jahr

      • March 18, 2012 at 9:34 am
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      Dearest Don,
      I want to thank you for sharing your heart. I feel lucky to have read this today. It is healing for me to read.

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