This may seem off my blog topic. Today is 11.11.
All of life is truly related. All that faces us are interconnected. This topic is not about honouring the veterans and doing the right thing in a public blog domain. This is about honouring my father, who set me up for the foundation of why I decided to even begin a blog on overcoming challenges with love and gratefulness.
Dad was the catalyst of my relentless journey of personal growth and development, since I was 16 years old. Life with him shaped me to become who I am. I saw what he struggled with, how that affected me, and just knew that there had to be a better way.
My father lived through the brutal realities of Korean War at the tender age of 3. I recall him telling us about having to move large bags over his head as the whole family walked for miles as they migrated from their home to a safer place. There were bombs falling all around them. Death and destruction was the norm of what made up his childhood. What I did not realize through all these stories during my youth was that his post-war upbringing was the harder reality that shaped him. There were stories of digging up endless corpses in the hill behind his home. Everyone had to fend for themselves. There was never any peace, as there was constant threat of another war with North Korea. His whole life, all he had known was being in the state of anxiety, doom, and living in a state of fight or flight.
Probably because of this early influence, he enlisted to fight in the Vietnam War when he was 18 years old. Often, we fall into what we are familiar with, not what is good for us. He joined the Marines and volunteered to fight in this war. This war is considered to be one of the most brutal wars of all time. He survived it. But this experience further shaped who he was. Experiencing war as an adult is different from being a passive child. Here, he actually participated in the destruction of other human lives. Here is where his animal brain had to take over his human logic of what is good and bad, and what is fair. Here, his life was about sheer survival and winning at all cost.
He came across tough, a true man’s man, and had no patience for any bullshit or slowness. He came across powerful and in control, unable to take other’s opinions and positions into account. He never showed any signs of weakness. The general consensus to people around us, and to myself, was that dad was scary, intimidating, and never to be messed with. He was tough, and unpredictable at times. He had relentless mood swings. He went from a regular mood to a complete state of destruction in nanoseconds. I thought that this was just the way he was. We love our parents so dearly, but we also often judge them because we are not ready to understand the world wholly. I saw these qualities as his shortcomings and I disliked him very much for how he was.
My father suffered from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and it was never diagnosed. He was never offered help, and he never even knew, during his 65 years of his short, suffering life, that help was available for people who went through a difficult life of wars like him. Nevertheless, through his determination and powerful nature, he was able to achieve great things. However, due to his mental health, they could never last. His alcoholism and smoking, and not taking care of his body, along with his mental health state, did not allow him to keep up with the demands of the regular world. He self medicated with alcohol and endless smoking. He could not keep up with close relationships, and passed away ill and suffering.
I honour my father, and all war veterans around the world. They fought for a cause they believed in, and gave their well being and life to this cause. There needs to be a better way to take care of them.
Honour our veterans today and always. They get forgotten the rest of the year. They have an extraordinary, resilient life behind that silence, behind their less than pleasant habits and facade, and studying their life is an excellent guide for building a strong, united future.