Anthony W. Pahl

THE PAST

I have a Veteran friend who recently accused me of living in the past and dwelling on one year out of my whole life. I understood what he was trying to say, but I decided that I would answer him in this way:

“Mate – I am here, and I am now! What I am feeling and experiencing is happening here and now. If I were making up my illness, I could change what is happening to me, but I did experience and do remember the past.

I don’t want to remember – I would give my left arm (I’m left handed) not to have been through that which I have. But I CANNOT change the past. The best I can do is try to come to terms with the effects that the past has on my present life – and trying to pretend it didn’t happen does not work – I’ve tried that and look at me.

But compare who and what you see now with whom and what you saw 3 or 4 years ago. Since then, I have accepted and acknowledged the past and I am now able to cope with and manage my illness. I still have nightmares, but that is all they are, nightmares. I still have flashbacks, but I now know that they are temporary. I still have anger, but I now have an outlet – my writing. I still cry, but they are tears of hope, not of futility.

I am who I am because of all I’ve experienced and neither you nor I have the power, or even the right to change that!”

Sorry for going on – but I feel great sorrow when someone, particularly a fellow veteran, ignores an important part of whom and why they are…