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Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

Your Own Afghanistan


If you are struggling with chaos, you are not alone

These last few months have continued to be chaotic and difficult for many of us. As an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, watching the events unfold overseas has been highly triggering and disheartening for many friends and battle buddies. Covid and our political climate have continued to send anxiety, depression and suicide rates climbing. Divisiveness and isolation are literally killing us.

Luckily, and due in large part to God, my community support and 15+ years of therapy, I was able to get through the negative thoughts, intrusive images and sense of hopelessness that threatened to take me down these last couple of months. I hope that this little testimony and education can help you as well if you are struggling.

Trauma affects our minds, body and spirit. When a traumatic event happens, like war, a global pandemic or the shocking loss of a friend, it tends to write narratives about God, others and ourselves that are not true. It instantly changes our perspective and sends our bodies into disarray. When we go through trauma, we use a vast array of coping skills that help us survive the moment. Our cortisol levels get jacked up, our sense of safety gets rocked, and our desire for connection and community is decimated.

As a clinician, I have the honor of walking alongside many of the strongest, most resilient people in the world. They are the ones who show up every day trying to rewrite the broken stories of their past and face the storms of life.

We are all victims at some point. As a young man, I experienced lots of trauma and negative experiences that God never wanted for me.

Afghanistan is one of the major ones. But through therapy, I was able to make sense of my time in service. I was able to do EMDR and trauma recovery work that allowed me to get my brain back online. I was able to understand what the feelings, thoughts and behaviors said about me. I learned that they said absolutely nothing about my worth or security.

When our coping skills stink, and we have no clue what to do with the chaos swirling around, we tend to either lash out and bleed on those around us who didn’t cut us, or we go internal and live with shame that is deep, painful and toxic.

When we face our trauma with the proper support, we realize that the negative things we experienced say nothing about our worth and value. As human beings, we are made in the image of God, and we are loved and valued not because of what we can do or how mentally stable we are. It’s OK to be a mess. It’s OK not to be OK. We are worthy because God has adopted us into his family. If we allow Him to, through community, connection and maybe some professional help, we can take back our lives and find freedom from the pain of our past.

If you are out there struggling with the chaos all around us, remember that you are not alone. You are not uniquely broken, and your pain and suffering matter. Stop measuring and comparing your trauma or experiences to others. Your story matters just as much as anyone else’s, and until you honor that and tell it, you will stay stuck.

To feel empowered and move forward, we have to heal. We have to let go of the lie that we will be disowned, unloved or shamed if we share our feelings or stories. Some people want to hold a sacred space for you to process without a filter until we walk in grace and truth again.

If we do not get help, then when another storm approaches, we will again allow it to speak negative words in our brains and hearts. The reason that many of us have survived this season is not that we are stronger or smarter or better; it is because we have learned to integrate the painful experiences from our past and have found new meaning and purpose. God has made beauty from ashes.

I hope and pray that if you are struggling with “your” Afghanistan, whatever that is, that you get help today and know that you will and can make it through. The world needs you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, you, with all your messiness and brokenness. Welcome to the club. Grab your T-shirt and get to work! All of us experience trauma, but what we do with it is all that matters. You are enough. You are loved. You are worthy even at your weakest points.

To my veterans and first responders, your service matters. It always matters and has meaning when you sacrifice for those that cannot stand and fight for themselves. Do not doubt that for one second. I understand why you would feel that way; war is messy and nuanced. It’s not black and white or straightforward. If you are thinking of suicide, please call 911 or 800-273-8255. If you want to take steps to facing your past and rewriting your story, reach out to us or any of the wonderful counselors around. God bless and stay strong!

Clint Davis, M.S., LPC, CSAT, CCTP, EMDR provider, Clint Davis Counseling, LLC; gratis assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at LSU Health Shreveport; director of recovery for The Hub: Urban Ministries. Contact Davis at 318-446-4141.


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December 2021