I do have an artistic license policy. If you think you see yourself in what I write here… well, you might very well be wrong.
That said, I frequently write and talk about things that are happening to me, or that I’m wrestling with.
Write what you know, right?
It’s tempting to think that I’m writing these things for attention. That it’s pure attention whoring.
While it is true that I do get some attention from writing those types of posts, and I do not mind the attention, it is also true that I write them for two other reasons.
The first is that writing these posts helps me work out the specifics of my emotions and thoughts.
But that doesn’t explain why I post them. That’s the second reason.
It would be easy to say I write these “to help others”, but it’s a little more complex than that.
At the turn of the century, just before 9/11 I wrote “Trainees”, detailing the ways that some behaviors of drill sergeants ended up turning gung-ho patriotic recruits into bitter, injured civilians. Since then – it ran in the post newspaper and has been on my websites since – I’ve heard from other trainees and families of trainees. Knowing that someone else saw what they went through and acknowledged it was important.
That recognition that they were not invisible was the defining factor in helping them start to make progress.
Back in 1999 or so, I wrote “I listen to them snicker” after an experience at a suicide prevention class while also on active duty. Fifteen years later, the suicide rate for active duty troops is 48% higher than the civilian rate, even though it’s finally declining again.
But it is fifteen years later. And while people tend to be supportive of suicide hotlines and the like in the abstract, and the popularity of things like “Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay” demonstrate a need, it is still difficult to talk about it if you are feeling suicidal.
But I’ve found that if you do talk about it, if you do talk about your problems and what you are doing to deal with them, then others realize they’re not alone.
You can’t fix anyone else’s problems in their life. You can’t, no matter how much you want to.1
But you can let people they’re not alone. That they’re not the only ones facing those particular demons. That others have done it before, and that there are people out there who truly understand.
And that helps people in a way that nothing else can.
1 And believe me, I tried, even if you didn’t realize it, and even if you don’t believe it now.