by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D
For several years we have written about the challenges and “crap” of PTSD. Perhaps it is time to dedicate the remainder of the year to things that are more positive, more inspirational. Yes, the thorny stuff will still be there, waiting for another opportunity to remind us that ### happens. Yet, I am reminiscent of some of the powerful stories from men and women who have overcome torture, isolation, and incredible emotional agony.
One such person is Nelson Mandela, the African leader who was imprisoned by the British for many years, and kept in seclusion for much of his stay. When asked how he kept his sanity he quoted from a poem, Invictus by William Henley. Two of my favorite verses from the poem go like this:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…….
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Louis Zapparini, a decorated WWII aviator who spent forty-nine days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean only to be captured, thrown in a Japanese prison camp and brutalized by his captures for several years, found hope in forgiveness.
Victor Frankel lost his wife and all of his family members in German concentration camps. In his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he describes the essential nature of being able to survive the unspeakable. It wasn’t the best looking, or the strongest, or smartest that lived through the ordeal.
For many who persisted in the face of enormous adversity it was living for something beyond oneself… having a purpose, an unfulfilled mission to one’s life that must be completed, no matter what the current conditions. This was what kept many going, day by day, and minute by minute.
When things get rough, where do you go to find your Hope? Is it your family or a special loved one? A loyal pet? A walk with nature? A smile from a stranger? Or perhaps an inspirational statement in a favorite book? Hope resides in the both the vast and tiniest of spaces. It can be as massive as a sun filled sky or a small as a butterfly.
It does not define itself in things, but in hearts and minds. It is never an empty box, although there may be times when our spirits feel such a void. Sometimes it is just right in front of us, and other times we must search deep to find and grab Hope’s fingers. It is always there, but our hands must be open to grasp its presence.
Just when the
Her world was over
She became a Butterfly