November 11, 2013

Loving a Man of Honor. ~ Maggie Marie Genthner {Video}

Last winter, I dated a Veteran.

His name was Sammy.

He was complicated, distant, but at the same time I felt him eager to feel love. I taught him yoga in his living room. I know his friends made fun of him for it but it helped his back so whatever. The bro scene can be pretty unsupportive but while none of them will admit it, I know there is love there between those compadres.

He was blue collar, broken and carrying a shadowy cloak of death that most men never taste—not wall street men who only want to kill the bottom line or intellectuals who are always in some existential crises or other.

There is something I can’t quite put my finger on about the men and women willing to go to war.

As f*cked up as it is, and as anti-war as I am, I feel and see the honor there.

It is real and raw.

I have touched the hardened part—the betrayal of what serving our country actually means, and hoped it would soften and trust again. It makes me weep thinking about how our Vets are treated when they come home. There are so many services they need to help them be at peace in their lives and to heal their post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More often than not, they are just prescribed pain medication or end up drinking to numb the pain—the pain that comes from the physical, mental and emotional baggage that they carry for us as a country.

My Vet assured me that he wasn’t in combat. He told me one day as we were driving in his pick up truck, “I am a lover not a fighter.”

He served in Iraq and Afghanistan, working on airplanes, and injured his back; this led to him being discharged. He later developed a horrible case of thoracic outlet syndrome which caused a severe blood clot and he almost died this last summer. It was frightening. I had to grapple with losing this person I had only just met, who I had already grown so attached to. I was completely unprepared for that experience.

His big dream was to take motorcycles out west, to ride them in the desert. I believe that was what kept him going through the whole ordeal—the taste of freedom and wonder. He could hold on to it, it was on the horizon.

Unfortunately, we were two traumatized people trying to love and it didn’t work out.

We both floated on, not much longer after his recovery. It was simple. I had my moments of being angry at his distance or poor memory, and he thought I was crazy. It was a pretty standard masculine and feminine struggle but with our own unique spin. I had to check myself again and again, and remember what he had been through; and then remember what I had been through with my own PTSD.

The experience grew my compassion for myself and for him in a huge way.

Shortly after, we broke up, he left on his big trip. Wildness and adventure returned to him—I saw the pictures. I loved thinking about him riding: free in the wind and sun, as the experience breathed more life into this incredibly good man.

Sammy once said, “You can love someone, and not necessarily end up with them, or have it make sense to be together.”

It didn’t make any sense for us to be together, so I could let him go but both worlds needed to meet, briefly, and lovingly. He reminded me of the reality of war and cooked me breakfast, and I showed him how to breathe and stretch.

This video struck me as I watched it today.

Through time lapse, you get to see a man transform in front of your eyes; the burden of war dissolving from him little by little, his coming back to life by taking his power back.

This is compelling and inspiring for us all:


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Wikimedia Commons.}

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