What happens when work becomes the main focus ...

Do you ever get so focussed on work that it takes over everything?  All I seem to have done over the last 2 months is focus on writing my autobiography (AB) or do what needs to be done around the production and marketing of my book.

I console myself with the thought that these goals are only temporary obstacles but necessary ones in order for me to continue being able to cope with my disability.

How does selling a book help with my disability?  Simple, it provides funds to what needs to be done:  1)Raise awareness of PTSD and signpost avenues of support for veterans, 2) Provide some funding towards the exhibition that I'm planning and 3) Hopefully, have some funds available towards more therapeutic photography and writing.

I check my blog most days to see if there's anything happening with the other blogs that I follow. Some are there for publicity exchange purposes but some are from friends. 

I've noticed something familiar in myself today though: the busier I get on here (even though it is managed very carefully), the more my emotions gets 'locked down'.  I go back to the old habits of work becoming the primary focus for living and sit here frustrated because the emotional release that this blog gives me is blocked ... and then things start leaking out ... horrrible things and it doesn't take much for the switch to be flipped. 

Yesterday an over-zealous postal worker knocked so hard on my door that the walls shook and it flicked the switch.  I went downstairs and opened the door to find my parcel sat on the floor outside my front door.  I could see a Royal Mail vehicle but I couldn't see the posty anywhere.  Any such noises trigger a reaction.  The fear is of opening the door and finding such a postman still there ... not knowing if I'd be able to stop myself attacking him because he has come to my safe place, my den and caused a disturbance that sent a shockwave to my core.  Thank you Royal Mail. 

So I'm addressing this by trying to find some balance between the two worlds for the sake of my health, because I remember this pattern from every job I've been in since the armed forces.  The stress growing, the work stopping me from carrying out my coping mechanisms by leeching all my available energy.

Coping with PTSD is hard work.  It's like having a full time job as a minder.  'Cept that you're minding yourself.  I avoid things that might trigger a reaction.  So I don't go out much.  I stay away from bars, unless I'm in company and even then it'll be a quiet pub somewhere.  I don't go to night clubs.  Both of these restrictions help me to stay away from drunken people that might want to pick a fight.  My fear is of hurting someone because when the switch is flicked, I go into 'do or die ' mode.  Every day is a regime of coping ... smudging with dried white sage, silent meditations to calm the centre and connecting with my native american flute - playing a tune on it gives me such a sense of stillness and connection with trees and mountains.

While helping other Veterans and doing my therapeutic work are crucial to my survival, so is maintaining that emotional openess that I've cultivated through many years of psycho-therapy.  The investment that I made in myself to be able to cope and try to find some value and enjoyment in life.

Writing the AB has unlocked things that have been buried so deeply from the years that I served in the RAF.  As I look on those events with the eyes of a man, I see what the boy of 19 went through and how he was used, as well as the risks he was put through because of the incompetence, and perhaps the clandestine priorities, of some of the senior officials.  How many times have you heard enlisted men and officers say that they were operating in Northern Ireland with one hand tied behind their backs?  The anger is fresh, red, ready to lash out ... but there are different chains in place now as well as an awareness and self monitoring regime that I never had during those particular years of service that started at the age of 19.

I sit and ponder my son's journey.  He's currently 15 and not sure what he wants to do with his life yet.  By the time I was 13 I was working towards my goals of becoming a policeman.  With hindsight I know that I was too young to do the jobs that I had been doing.  I started full time armed duties at the age of 17.  By the time that I got to Northern Ireland I was a man in a child's body ...  but not a complete man.  I lacked wisdom, awareness of the way the system uses people and the ruthlessness that some seem to possess in order to further their own ambitions.  I'm glad to say that I still lack that ruthlessness.  I was a man because I was carrying a weapon on duty with the authority to take a life if the situation warranted it ...  think about it?  There's nothing macho about it ... but there is a huge amount of responsibility that goes with that sanction.  I was a man because I could purchase alcohol legally.  I was a man because I could fornicate.

I sit here examing that man and know that he was naught but a boy doing a difficult job.  Cannon fodder of the 80s.

Hindsight's a bastard alright ... but if you've got the courage to look back and use it and apply the lessons to your current life, it just might help you to avoid some of those pitfalls and maybe help you over some of the new hurdles that life will place before you.

So to all you 19 year olds in a hurry to be called men ... slow down a little and don't be in a hurry to attain the impossible?  Live life a little and enjoy your care-free years.  Cultivate responsibility for things that matter and learn how to walk in this world as a good human with your eyes wide open ... but never stop playing.  Learn to walk as individuals and not as 'sheeple' (humans bred with sheep).  The new materialistic world is turning people into sheeple and then blinkering them.  Those of you that inherit this new world are at more risk of decline in human values and morals than any generation before you.  The implications and impacts of those changes in human society are easily traced and witnessed ... you just have to remove the blinkers, give the media a back seat and learn to read between the lines.  It's an essential skill for your growth and survival.

It's time I smudged  :o)


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