Tag Archives: Vietnam

Stone Soup

“We are so lucky.” (Nancy Barnes, almost every day)

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. November investigates gratitude.

Grace is a state of exuding joy, an emotional effervescence springing from the heart and overflowing the physical self. I love that feeling. I want some more of it.

Still, much of my life is lived in some kind of vortex between grace and despair.

I know that I am fortunate and I am grateful. I am thankful, but grace often eludes me.

Fate, Fortune, or Facility?

It is my mind. I keep wondering, obsessing, on why I am so blessed.

Is it fate? Have I been granted privilege to live so long, to experience joy and success, to feel functional and relevant into old age, for some reason? If this was predestined for me, I have to ask, “Why?”

Why have I been so blessed? Is there some purpose for my existence that has not yet been accomplished? What do I owe (and whom?) for these gifts?

Maybe grace is the ability and practice of accepting gifts with simple gratitude. Okay, “Thank you.”

Or, is it all just luck…fortune? Is life just a big numbers game? I cannot help but believe that my choices have had something to do with my luck, but how (and why) did I make those choices?

I have won in casinos and it felt good. I have won in life and questioned why. I question my worthiness for the good fortune.

Maybe grace is the ability and practice of accepting gifts without justification of worthiness. Okay, “Thank you.”

On the other hand, maybe all that I have is a result of my hard work. Maybe I have earned everything I have found enjoyable. Ah, but there is a rub.

Maybe I survived combat because of my prowess. The corollary is that those who did not survive, failed. The conclusion is that I won and others lost.

By my junior year in college, I had lost my drive to win in wrestling—because it always meant that somebody else had to lose. Winning was not that much fun, anymore (even though it was rare enough), but losing was no fun at all. Winning meant creating losers, a philosophically unsatisfactory reality for a young idealist (or for an old one).

The proposition that I won the combat contest while others lost their lives or limbs is deeply troubling to me. The proposition that my Vietnam experiences were relatively mild compared to others’ because of the choices I made is deeply troubling. It makes it hard to say, “Thank you.”

Stone Soup?

There is an old folk tale from sixteenth century Europe about a village running short of food when a traveler came through town looking for a meal. Yesterday morning, in the dark shadow of Monday nights events in Ferguson, MO, my spirits were lifted by serendipity as I watched preschool children act out a version of the story read by a teacher. The experience changed my whole day.

Was this encounter fate, fortune, or facility of my decision to schedule my co-teaching date in a beginning education class on that particular day?

The answer does not matter. I am grateful for the experience.

Sometimes there is evidence in my past and present of forces beyond my understanding. If the product of these forces leaves pleasant tracks in my heart, I have reason to smile and be grateful. Thanksgiving is about finding that evidence and celebrating it without regard to causes or worthiness, but accepting it with grace.

Happy Tracking.

Desperate Dates

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. November investigates gratitude.

One of the happiest anniversary dates of my life is DEROS, my Date Eligible to Return from Over Seas. I left Vietnam on 1 November 1970. It has been on my mind, especially since I planned this blog series and I have been helping organize Military and Veteran Appreciation Week on campus. This should be a joyous time, right?

“Some of the reactions those affected may experience as the anniversary date nears include difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritable outbursts, nightmares, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and feeling detachment from others.” (APA)

Except for the loss of appetite, I have had all of those symptoms the past couple of weeks, including this morning. First, I looked for physical causes such as a virus, heart problems, or worse. Then, I blamed it on work.

I had been confused.

Time generates anxiety. All I had to do in Vietnam was stay alive for 362 days and I could go home. The closer I came to that date, the more I worried about getting shot down as I visited A-Team camps by helicopter, or a rocket attack on our compound (one hit my building about three weeks after I left). I was holding my breath. Maybe that was what I was feeling on my DEROS anniversary.

Sunday, November 2nd, after I expressed gratitude for getting home forty four years earlier, I had an epiphany. Since my deployment had been for one calendar year, this was also the anniversary of the day I patted my baby in her crib, hugged my wife, said goodbye to my parents, and went to war. The dual nature of this anniversary date had eluded me all these years.

I am grateful that my baby did not have to grow up without her dad. I am grateful that my second daughter was conceived almost a year after I got home. After decades of guilt, remorse, and anger, I am grateful to be alive.

“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” (Thornton Wilder)

Perhaps there is no more compelling feeling among survivors than a need to make something of the life spared, a life of gratitude, as expressed at the end of the movie, Saving Private Ryan.

My first visit to “The Wall” was an unplanned escape from pain. I came away knowing that it was okay that my name was not there. Knowing it deep down, inside. I had been told.

When my friend went to Vietnam to be an airborne brigade recon patrol team member, he was still a teenager. He has never been to the Vietnam War Memorial. I suggested, once, that he should go, but he told me that he couldn’t until he had made something of his life.

It can be difficult to feel grateful for something we do not believe we deserve, something we have not earned.

The bad news is that like other PTSD symptoms, date reactions will never go away. The good news is that as long as we are still alive, we have opportunities to turn from habits of grief to practice of gratitude.

May you find the embers of gratitude in your heart, and may humility fan them into flames. Gratitude is in you—you just have to find it.

Happy Tracking.

Flickering Joy

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. October looks at humility.

“Find a place inside where there is joy, and that joy will burn out the pain” (Joseph Campbell)

There is pain inside us, and that is the hard truth of it. We can live with the pain, maybe, but can we live well? Can our families?

Pain is a poison creating more pain and spreading through our secret selves, those parts we consider dark. Joy is the antidote.

A young Veteran on campus asked how he was supposed to relate to the younger students. When I told him that was a good question but that I did not have the answer, he said that nobody does, only excuses. But, he also acknowledged that he had a better chance of relating to them than they to him. After all, he had been young, but they had never faced the fire.

It has taken me several days, but I see the answer to his question in his own acknowledgement.

“You’ve never lived until you’ve almost died. For those who have fought for it, life has a flavor the protected never know.” (Guy de Maupassant)

I remember the second line from a wall in our C-Team compound in Bien Hoa.

The protected cannot know the pain inside us—unless we share it, and that is hard to do, maybe even dangerous. It feels dangerous, like reliving it. Sometimes, it smacks of weakness. Always, it bares the vulnerability of being misunderstood.

We can, however, remember being young. We can find the innocence of our youth, faint as it may be, and reconnect with that. We can find the joy that still lives inside, the joy we knew before we faced the fire.

That is the part of us we can share with the protected. We can connect with them by touching the good things we still remember inside ourselves, flickering lights of joy we tend to hide beneath a bushel of pain.

There came a time when I could not find my joy. I had buried all the pain so deep that when I looked inside, all I found was darkness. A few gifts of humility helped me find my way back home.

Yes, it is a kind of humility to find good things inside ourselves. I know it can feel like betrayal to feel joy in the presence of so much pain in our brothers and sisters. It is not. It is necessary, for it is life.

Sure, we must track down our own pain and face it (but not alone); however, if we are to reconnect with the protected including our own families, we will do well to find the light of our own joy to show us the way back home.

Happy Tracking.

One Among

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. October looks at humility.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” (C.S. Lewis)

At the time I joined my A Team in Vietnam, one of the NCOs was getting ready to leave. We all wore solid OD jungle fatigues, but he had some Army issued camouflaged fatigues, Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, I think. He was leaving them behind, they were my size, and I coveted them. As I was preparing for my first patrol in the jungle, I was thinking I might wear them. He thought not.

He asked, “Have you ever been at the small end of a funnel?”

I got the picture.

Most of my life I had seen myself as “special.” I had won academic and athletic accolades. I worked hard to be special, to stand out, and thought I had earned the recognition. Didn’t they even call us, “Special Forces?”

Looking special in a hostile jungle is not that special. It is being a target, one time when looking special is ill advised. I wore the same tiger fatigues that all the other Strike Force members wore, to blend in. I became just one among a group.

There is something about landing on an unsecured LZ that churns my stomach. I wore a steel pot helmet, as did many of our Strike Force, and I carried my own radio, which at that time was the size and weight of a boot box full of rocks. One reason was I had this fear of reaching for a radio handset to call for help and seeing my radio carrier lying on a hot LZ. The other reason was that I had heard of snipers targeting officers as the man ahead of the radio carrier with the tall antenna sticking out of the pack.

Blending in, being one among, has become my style. I wear camouflage, today—no, not literally, but really. If anyone were pressed to describe what I was wearing, on most days they would be unable. I blend in, look like everybody else. At a NASCAR race, I wear racing fan clothes. At a Packer game, I wear green and gold. At a Christmas party, I might even wear a Santa hat. But, on campus, I wear jeans or khakis and a simple shirt unless I am representing NAU off campus. Then I wear a tie.

A young Veteran student asked a profound question last week which I paraphrase. How are we supposed to relate to these teenagers on campus? It is a fact that military and Veteran students do stand out on campus, and everybody knows it. What we do not know is what can be done about it. I’m working on that.

My wife, Nancy, also a Veteran, went to school after service. She not only found it difficult to relate to students, but to relate to some faculty. Having been a medic in an obstetric unit of an Army hospital, she had held and fed many newborns. When she wrote about instinctual infant behavior in a psychology class, the professor got upset with her, claiming that all behavior is learned. Nancy asked him when the infants had classes on grasping and suckling.

The question as to how Veterans returning to campus can relate to students and faculty is an important one. I suggest a much more important question is to ask how students, and especially faculty, can relate to returning Veterans.

I choose to blend in because I simply do not like to stand out. This is not humility, however. Humility is more than the superficiality of my clothes, something deeper and, at the same time, more subtle. Humility leaves little to no track. How, then, can we know humility when it finds us?

You know what? That is not for me to say. I can sometimes recognize humility in others, but to even look for it in myself is to drive it from me.

I can, however, see the tracks of false pride in me, usually in some form of intolerance. When the elevation of my status depends upon the diminution of the status of some other, humility has escaped me.

Sometimes I can see my own tracks of false humility. Putting myself down is no closer to humility than is pumping myself up or putting someone else down.

Humility, I think, is a gift of gratitude for who I am with tolerance for who others may be. May you find tracks of humility from others and tolerance from yourself.

Happy tracking.

Lonesome Otherness

“Brotherhood is the very price and condition of man’s survival.” (Carlos P. Romulo)

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. October looks at humility.

You sent me alone, America. Did you know you did that? You trained me in platoons and teams, and then you sent me to Vietnam on a plane with about forty newly trained Green Beret Lieutenants. We processed through Long Binh, together, then got split up to go different ways. I rode the helicopter to my A-Team camp near the Cambodian border, alone.

A team was there, but I had never met them—any of them. I was the new guy, a fresh butter bar with a face of a teenager. We all knew our lives depended upon each other, but they had no measure of my mettle. I would have to prove that in live fire.

This is one of the worst things you can do to a person, to send them into combat, alone, and make no mistake, sending with strangers is sending, alone.

We coped. We got to know each other. We lived through a firefight or two. We learned to trust each other, but you kept splitting us up, sending some home and bringing in new guys.

I’m still kind of mad about that.

After about eight months at our border camp, you pulled us out, the lieutenants. You decided we were needed at the rear, for what we did not know.

I didn’t care. I had no career ambitions in uniform, and it was one step closer to home, to my family, by baby girl, and my return to UW Madison to study Genetics.

It did not take long for a group of combat veteran first lieutenants to bond. We became our own team, the “Crises Eliminators” (there were always crises at headquarters). My friend, Rod, was a performer with a great Flip Wilson impersonation. We became the Gorilla Club after Flip’s Reverend LeRoy of the What’s Happenin’ Now Congregation. Like Mr. G. O. Rilla in the zoo, “Whatever they said we did, we did it—and some more, besides.”

Then, we came home. Some of us shared a flight from Seattle to Minneapolis. Rod, who lived there, even waited a few hours with me until I got a flight to Madison. I saw him a couple of times after that. I have never seen any others from my A Team or the Gorilla Club. That leaves a hole in me nobody else seems to fill.

We are compelled to judge others, to determine who can be trusted. All people are so compelled. Animals, too. Combat veterans are particularly slow to trust. It becomes a problem for us.

We all know our survival depends upon brothers and sisters, but strangers are not to be trusted. Groups are threatening. Crowds are intolerable. Even others we want to trust are avoided.

Because, they go away.

Trapped between the threat of being alone and the vulnerability of trusting others who may attack, betray, fail, or abandon us, we live in desperate otherness, tending to fear and gravitating toward hate.

It’s alright. We can live with this condition if we are honest about it, honest enough to develop personal humility. Because, first we have to judge ourselves fairly enough to accept the way we are. We look deep inside to see the reality and the scars that make us this way, deep enough to accept the truth of it.

Looking upon these personal tracks is difficult—probably too difficult to do alone—but so liberating. May I suggest you find a new team of people who share some of the same scars and lean on each other?

Together, may you find happy tracking.

Shades of Pride

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. October looks at humility.

“In reality, humility means nothing other than complete honesty about yourself.” (William Countryman)

I began to look at humility years ago as the opposite of pride. That view was, at best, sophomoric. I know a little more, now.

I am proud of my Green Beret, the same one I wore to Vietnam and back that now lives in a zippered plastic hat box with Nancy’s Madison General RN cap. I worked for it and I earned it by doing some difficult things many other men chose not to do. This might be a healthy form of pride, good pride.

I am proud of my Combat Infantry Badge. I faced the enemy fire with some courage—enough so the Sergeant with me recommended me for a Silver Star. I told him not to pursue it because I hadn’t done anything heroic. I picked up a machine gun from a wounded man, but the firefight was already over. It only made sense since I had qualified Expert with the M-60. Besides, in a fight, there was nowhere I would rather be than behind that weapon. I only did my job, but I am proud of that and I believe that is a healthy pride.

For forty years, I was not proud of my Bronze Star awarded not for valor but for service. Then, one day while processing PTSD, I talked with Nancy about our operations, how we walked the jungle with one or two other Americans, two or three Republic of Vietnam Green Berets, and interpreter, and fifty to a hundred Civilian Irregular Defense Group soldiers, some of whom were likely Viet Cong.

She looked at me and said, “That’s nuts.”

I decided right there that I really had served well. Discounting my Bronze Star was a false humility, a form of unhealthy pride, bad pride.

Have you ever had a dream about embarrassment? You know, naked in public or doing something totally inappropriate or unacceptable like singing off key in front of a crowd? See, that is a bad form of pride. Fear of failure, embarrassment, or shame robs me of my power, even the power to serve others. Humiliation does not equal humility. It equals false pride.

I think.

It gets confusing. It seems that searching out and finding my false pride, boastful pride, or bad pride is healthy. But, looking for my humility is like trying to catch a rainbow.

Maybe true humility is the act of looking for tracks of false pride in me while false pride is looking for the tracks of my humility.

Happy tracking.

Dirt Honesty

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. September looks at honesty.

In Spring of 1970, I led an operation inside Cambodia. The Civilian Irregular Defense Group strike force from our Special Forces border camp in Viet Nam rode on the backs of armored personnel carriers. My map was useless as we pushed our way, twisting, turning, backing, and plunging forward through the jungle. By the time the Cavalry Captain thought we had reached the right place to dismount, this Infantry Lieutenant was honestly lost.

I do not like being lost. There were two topics in Officer Candidate School I had studied as though my life depended upon them: weapons and land navigation. Our land navigation training officer was my favorite. His advice on reading terrain was always, “Call a spade a spade.”

That means, do not interpret the terrain features to fit your notion of where you are or where you might want to be. It means, read the terrain features for what they are and allow them to show you where you are.

My problem in Cambodia was that this part of Earth is flat with no durable terrain features, only jungle and clearings that changed and were inaccurately mapped.

As we dismounted, the Captain asked me if I knew where we were. I admitted I did not. He pointed to a spot on his map, mounted up, and drove away, leaving us standing in the jungle. A doubter by nature and a scientist by training, I was not convinced. I called for a fire mission.

I asked for one timed fuse smoke artillery air burst. The sighting would give me a direction and the difference between the time of burst and when I heard the explosion would allow calculation of distance. Cool. Distance plus direction would plot my location from the known artillery round location.

There was one big oops. We could not see the smoke because it was too far away. We were a couple of clicks (kilometers) from where we had been told. It took a few more adjusted fire missions to accurately determine our actual location—which was really important later when we made enemy contact and wanted artillery or air support without blowing ourselves to pieces.

Being lost is being vulnerable, risking getting killed—either by the enemy or by friendly fire—either way it is just as permanent.

Survival depends on knowing where you are, and learning where you are requires facts, tracks on the ground (or air, in this case).

Survival demands dirt honesty, and dirt honesty requires the vulnerability of admitting you are lost so that you may read the tracks on the ground for what they are. Vulnerability, however, is dangerous to survivors of traumatic stress. It triggers hormonal dysregulation, anxiety, and even depression. This is the dilemma of post traumatic stress, caught between dysregulation and death.

Denial is the common response. It was mine for thirty nine (39) years. Recovery began when I admitted I was lost and called for help to figure out where I was. Today, I read my own behavior as the tracks on the ground, the cues that I am lost or, at least, not where I want to be. I admit I am lost and I reduce my vulnerability by calling in the artillery, by getting help to figure out where I am.

You may be lost, but you are not alone, and if you need some artillery, here I am.

Happy tracking.

Pre-Trauma Love

I am not a psychologist. It seems prudent to remind us of that fact because I hear myself talking as if I were. These are just my opinions.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

Dr. Hart coaches us to remember our pre-trauma selves, to get back to those things that amused us, entertained us, attracted us, and made our lives meaningful and enjoyable. In other words, things we loved.

Good advice, Dr. Hart, but very difficult to do. It seems much easier to remember the trauma than the days before.

Who was I before Vietnam? Even that question is difficult to ask—and even more difficult to answer.

Am I not the person I was? No, but that admission is a big step, perhaps the greatest leap of all. I do not remember, of conscious mind, being any different.

Subconsciously, I do. If I can put myself back into situations I enjoyed with people, places, and things I loved before, I may remember at a feeling level.

Hay barns help, the smell of dried alfalfa and grasses. It takes me back to my youth.

Wrestling helps, being on the mat, coaching. Just being around schools helps. For me, school was a safe and enjoyable place. So, I went back and stayed.

Nothing takes me back to the pre-trauma world like Nature, whether it be hunting, gardening, or just walking in the woods. I accept that this is a feeling memory from the happier me. I know that the smell of tilled earth, wet wood, fallen leaves, or apples from the tree evoke the subconscious memories. But, I believe there is more.

I love the woods. For a reason I do not understand, I feel right, there—at home. I love the sights, sounds, smells, movements, and wholeness of field and forest. I know I belong.

In the woods, I am small but significant. I am one part of a big thing, equal to the tree, deer, squirrel, inchworm, and mosquito. I belong because I am part of it, because I accept it as bigger than me, because…I have been invited. Yes, I feel invited.

I love the woods, but even more importantly, I believe the woods loves me. Without prejudice or judgment of any kind.

In the forest I feel small yet bigger than anywhere else. I hope that makes sense to you. It feels right to me.

Perhaps you see a pitfall, here. People with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms who do not have a pre-trauma place that invites them may have more difficulty finding equilibrium. Well, people without hay barns, gardens, or forests of youth may have trouble reaching their equilibrium even without trauma. I grieve for people who do not feel invited into the woods.

It is not too late. I believe that. I (the not psychologist guy) believe that Nature is here to love all of us whether we meet before or after trauma. Find a teacher, a guide, and go home to Nature. It is in your DNA.

Mother Earth loves every one of us. Isn’t it time you accepted and returned that love?

Repelling Love

To this day, Nancy still claims 1999 as the year she received her best Christmas present, ever—so good, in fact, it is unimaginable to replace her. She is Goldberry’s Serenity Dreamer, a registered yellow Labrador Retriever. The only registered dog either of us ever had, she is the most wonderful pet and friend.

But, she is old and her health is failing. Her eyesight has dimmed, her hearing is almost gone, and many parts of her body are susceptible to infection and other inflammation. She can no longer keep up with this old man in field, forest, or desert, but we are committed to keeping her as comfortable as possible as long as she still finds enjoyment in life, which she does.

Replacing her is not really conceivable. It took us about ten years after Cheese, our English Setter mix, died before we bought Serenity. We cannot imagine going through this process, again.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Combat PTSD. The answer in “Funny” New Guys..

Audey Murphy became the most decorated American in WWII when he was still a teenager. He also had a baby face, so he could play his younger self in the movie of his life story, TO HELL AND BACK. In that story, two new replacements arrive while the platoon is engaged with the German enemy. They are immediately shunned.

The point is emphasized when one brings in a backpack stove he found. One of the veterans grabs it away, takes it outside the farm house, and buries it. It had belonged to his friend who had been killed that morning.

Audey shuns them, too, telling one who volunteers for a patrol, “We don’t need you.”

In Vietnam, we called them FNGs (“Funny” New Guys). Yes, they were shunned partly because unseasoned warriors do stupid things. But the emotional reason is simpler. Nobody wants new friends because nobody wants to see one more friend die.

It is a simple, subconscious decision about love that goes something like this: You get to love people. People die. It hurts more when the people who die are people you love. Solution? Don’t love anymore people.

Loving anyone or anything makes one vulnerable, and to feel vulnerable is dangerous to anyone with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Our brains don’t like vulnerability. If we fight it, some kind of rage ensues. If we succumb to it, we sink into depression. So, we avoid love and other vulnerable activities.

It takes a lot of resilience to love a dog.

It takes more to love a person because people are more likely to bite.

We are unnaturally loyal to our friends, but we shun most new people. It’s an old habit. For self protection, we repel love—in part because we know it hurts to lose it.

Recovery requires a partner. Care to dance?

Brave Love

“Love is the absence of judgment.” (Dalai Lama)

I am compelled to judge, and therein lies the rub. It is the vulnerability inherent in our human condition. A vulnerability that is exponentially increased by trauma.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

There was one incident in the flat, swampy area of Vietnam, a place unfamiliar to me with people also unfamiliar—and two dead VC. I saw a man, without a shirt, wading the ditch in front of me and I sighted my M-16 on his back. I hesitated. He lived. Another man beside me recognized him as American and intervened.

Power demands judgment. I don’t mean only that power ought to require judgment, but that it necessarily does.

Vulnerability challenges judgment.

Rifle in hand, or the mathematics of an artillery fire direction center (or console of a drone), a person is left with the choice to shoot or not shoot. Always, that choice. A choice made in the split of an instant.

To hesitate may mean to die. To not hesitate oft means to kill. So we judge with the speed and absence of thought of our reptilian brain, perceptions shunted by our amygdala to action without thought. Because, to think is to risk death.

Primitive judgment is required in combat (and other dangerous situations such as a Boston marathon).

Mature judgment is required for the rest of life.

We are all compelled to judge. How, then, do we ever love?

If I could be in Madison, WI, this May, I would listen for clues from the Dalai Lama. I expect he can help us with this conundrum. I expect lots of wise people can.

It is a Post Traumatic Stress Dilemma. I will propose one hypothesis. Judgment has shades. We must judge our vulnerability. We must notice our surrounding, people and behaviors, and report suspicious perceptions. We must intervene, for the corollary is not necessarily true: Judgment is not the absence of love.

But, we need not pre-judge. We need not categorize all Vietnamese (fill in your own ethnic, religious, or political group) as our enemy. That is fear, not love.

We must not blame. We must not judge sick people as bad. Sure, we have the right and the compulsion to do so, but it is unhealthy. That is a form of judgment that excludes love from us.

We do that. Vulnerable people often choose isolation without love as the preferred alternative to vulnerability. Love with vulnerability or judgment without love, another Post Traumatic Stress Dilemma.

I leave you with this question. What is required of us to accept the vulnerability without judgment that allows love to touch us and us to touch love? What?

Hint: My answer is a single syllable.