Sunday, November 15, 2009


Everything can change in a day, in a moment even.

There may be no change in location, in employment, in income. Things can go along day-by-day much as they always have.

Yet a single phrase, a single conversation can change seemingly everything. It can change how we see ourselves, how we see our relationships to others. It can change our sense of our future, our hopes, dreams, and plans.

A single phrase can bring pain or redemption. And perhaps sometimes both.

I am faced today with a difficult change in my life. I cannot go into details for now. But I would appreciate your prayers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day haunts me with stories.

When I had finished my second year of graduate school, I was looking for something to keep me gainfully employed...some type of work that would give me "clinical experience" for my resume. After some searching, I applied for a summer "traineeship" at a VA hospital, and was accepted.

Mind you, at this point I had had a total of maybe two therapy cases at the college clinic. And here I was suddenly dropped into a world of severe PTSD, alcohol dependence, and misery. I sat with people recounting memories of violence that were almost incomprehensible to me -- violence from their childhoods, violence they committed as soldiers, violence committed against them as soldiers, violence from their fellow soldiers.

As I look back on it now, it seems to me that so much of what I witnessed there had to do with the impact of such experiences, of the need to escape those memories by drinking, by blaming, by dissociation, by escape.

It left me with a complex set of feelings about military service. I am amazed beyond telling by the courage and sacrifice of those I got to know. I am horrified by what we as a nation asked of them, by the human impact of what we put them through. I am mindful that sometimes such sacrifices must perhaps be asked. I question whether our leaders would ask for such sacrifices so often if they grasped the enormity of the cost.

Regardless, I am thankful to the veterans I met that summer. For what they sacrificed. For what they taught me. For making almost every clinical experience I've had since then seem easy in comparison. For letting me witness their courage in the midst of such great suffering.