My life started out great, I was the son of 2 loving parents, and have an extended family that loves me and saved my life on a few occasions as this story unfolds. My life took a major turn for the worse at only 6yrs old when my mother passed away, my father decided to take me and my sister out west after my mother passed away. We lived in places like Van Horn Texas (on the Mexico border), and on a Navajo Reservation in Arizona, both places I was a minority and treated as such by the other children. Some have asked me if I turned out racist because of that, let me just say no I didn’t, to me everyone is “green” the color of the Army uniforms, and I have a 3yr old son who is my life, and he is half Spanish, which kind of solidifies the fact that I’m not racist I was in a relationship with a half Spanish half Hawaiian woman for 3 years, and even after splitting up I still consider her a friend. My father died when I was 11yrs, and I watched him die in a hospital right in front of me, shortly after that my sister and I were almost taken by the system, but my family in MA sent one of my Uncle’s down to bring us back home to MA.
I barely spoke 2 words for a while after my father’s death, and most of my childhood I battled the inner feelings that go along with this sort of childhood. My whole childhood I was angry at the world, and at God, and felt different then everyone else. I hid a lot of this from people that were closest to me, even some of my best friends didn’t know exactly what it was like for me, and the inner feelings I had. I had such low self-esteem I let the woman of my dreams slip through my fingers because I couldn’t bare to have her know and not feel the same. I was also bullied by some of my classmates, some because I was quiet, and some out right told me it was because I didn’t have parents.
I was a child with P.T.S.D. and neither my family nor doctors realized it, because back then it was known as battle fatigue and what 6yr old has battle fatigue? I turned to substance abuse to cope with the feelings I had, and I barely graduated high school, after I did, I became a soldier, my detox being Basic Training at Fort Benning Georgia. I became a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier. I served 3 years active duty 2 of which I was a team leader, and Battalion B.O.S.S. Representative (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) I also spent 6 months in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, doing interior/exterior guard duty at Camp X-Ray. While at Gitmo I had become a sort of shoulder for a lot of the soldiers who missed their families, and helping the soldiers cope with being away from home. Although I never went to war, I seen my share in training such as a friend of mine being decapitated, my B.F.V. turret blowing up and my Gunner & B.C. both being blinded for about a year, a few riots in Gitmo Bay Cuba camps, and the list goes on.
After my time in the Army was over I was Honorably Discharged, and received the Good Conduct Medal, and the Overseas Medal among some of the other medals I received, I gained a lot of self-control and began coping with the inner demons and feelings I faced. Within some of the work I did in my civilian life I made a lot of friends, and met a lot of people with different problems in their lives; I found one of my gifts in life is to be sort of a consultant for them, to help them in their time of need. A lot of these people we’re in situations like what I lived through in my life.
Years went by and my Uncle that raised me, and my Grandfather both became deathly ill, dying only a month apart. When they died, it was like my parents dying all over again, which brought me into a deep and very dark depression, and spiked my PTSD to dangerous levels, I eventually tried to take my own life, I became a carver, just to feel something other than the emotions I had within me, and became homeless on the streets of downtown Boston Massachusetts. I found Veteran’s Shelters to stay at after about a year on the streets and started to rebuild my life. Over the 3 years I spent in the V.A. Homeless Shelters I met a lot of soldiers like myself that were homeless and needed help. A lot of help that was not there for them at the time; I knew they all needed permanent solutions to their problems, not just cover up for their wounds. I felt like I was finally beginning to see my purpose in life and gained a new perspective of what happened to me in the past.
I finally was able to get out of the Homeless Shelters and begin a new life; but one thing that drives me is that I am one of the only ones that got out of these shelters. I then swore to dedicate my life to helping people, and use the scars I have suffered in life for good, and really make an impact on the world around me for the better. To give the people around me a fighting chance, and some good karma. karma is one of the strongest forces in the universe and no matter what you do be it bad or good Karma is always there and will impact your life every time.
As I was preparing myself for a lifelong commitment of helping others, I came to realize that one of the most disturbing trends these days is the increase of distress across environments that were once considered safe. No safe havens exist now; we must become and provide the safe haven for ourselves if we are to truly cope with the traumas in our lives. I became a Peer Support Specialist to help others who live with various traumas.
I still live with some trauma now and then, who doesn’t? For instance I broke up with my sons mom a little over a year ago, I hardly see the little girl I raised for 3 years of her life, whom I still consider my daughter and I see my son on the weekends, both of these tare a whole in my heart bigger than Texas but I cope with it and cherish every moment with both of my children. I learned the coping strategies I use to others, to help me deal with the trauma in my life be it recent or 30+ years ago, because we may be able shut the doors on our past and we may be able to block them out of our thoughts, we may even be able to take medication to ease the pain. But, in order to truly overcome the trauma in your lives, and in my own life, is to have long term solutions through meditation, positive thinking, confidence building, talking with someone you can trust, and other grounding techniques and coping skills; not just band-aids to cover up the wounds.
by Charles Smith
Operation: Enlighten! Learn the art of self protection through knowledge, instead of using your fists unless as a last resort. Enlightening people on the dangers around them and to teach you how to protect yourself and the ones you love if they're in danger, and how a well thought out security plan can save your life, or the lives of those you love and care about.
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