The current contingent at the PTSD ward is leaving this week. A new group of about twenty will be arriving next week on Monday and Tuesday. This session was a bit of a bust, I only had more than two vets in my class twice, several times no one showed up. The recreation coordinator is always apologizing, saying maybe we should just cancel for now, making excuses for the vets, etc. She is having the same problem getting guys to come to her activities. I keep explaining that I try to have realistic expectations. I understand the reasons why it is very difficult for these guys to breakout of their “comfort zones” and that the vets who need what Aikido can bring them the most, are the hardest to get in out of the woods. So, while I may be disappointed, I’m not surprised. I’ve made a commitment to be there two days a week and offer my class to whom ever. If someone is in a place where they can accept what I have to offer, great. If not, my commitment is to be available.
If you want to do something of lasting value to vets with CRPTSD, you are going to have to make a commitment beyond doing “something nice”. The personal rewards can be enormous, but the personal investment has to be deep. This can be a difficult population to reach; cautious, untrusting, tough and fragile, proud but needy, wanting but often unable to make a commitment. I find that what I believe is the core of of my Aikido enables me to remain centered and open, with no expectations, no anticipation beyond my own commitment.
Of course, this makes me a saint, which I ain’t. I get frustrated, despondent, impatient, depressed, and even totally pissed off, but at myself, because I can’t reach these guys, and at a system that has put them where they are, but ------- I will show up at 2:30 every Tuesday and Wednesday. I will offer my Aikido to any vet who will even walk by, give a second glance. I don’t have anything else to offer except myself and my Aikido.
So be it. Onward, into the fog