Gratitude

I’m going to share personal stories on this blog. It will be a way of helping myself work through issues and hopefully will help others in deciding to begin recovery or continuing their recovery. Throughout the 20 months of my own recovery, it has been others sharing their stories; telling their tales of suffering, often embarrassing and humbling, but with recognizable themes and events that motivated and strengthened me when I was hurt, weak and wavering in my commitment to life and health.

I cannot take credit for my recovery. Yes, I did make the decision to begin it and there have been times, tough times, when I chose not to forgo and give up. However, it was the actions of others, some intentional and some unintentional, that has allowed me to be successful. As you will see, gratitude is a big part of this blog, because gratitude is an important part of recovery; it’s something that very naturally and necessarily comes with others helping you to live. It’s not something I expected when I began therapy, when I gave up booze, when I went on anti-depressants, but gratitude is certainly a very welcome blessing in my life.

The list of who has helped me and who continues to help me is quite long. It is a living list, because, as I am experiencing, recovery from PTSD, depression, alcohol abuse and suicidality is a long and uneven process, most assuredly a permanent process–I begin a new medication today. Waves and troughs of varying durations and intensity come and go, but the good waves last longer over time, while the bad time troughs come less frequently, aren’t as deep and are manageable.

That list of help is populated with family, friends and strangers. My ex-girlfriend who got us into couple’s therapy because I had stopped having sex with her, along with a torrent of other PTSD problems and symptoms; Lenny B, my first counselor who got me to quit drinking and led me through a PTSD treatment program; one of my best friend’s, Van, who told me “you fucking know better”, an auditory slap I had needed for a long time; my parents, of course, who took me in when therapy and recovery had stopped being easy and when I had run out of money; the guys in my PTSD group at the Durham VA, some 15 years younger than me, some 25 years older, some white, some black, but all willing to talk, to share and to be open in order to help one another, to be brothers to one another; my sweet friend who opened her home to me in Maui, basically letting me convalesce and allowing me to see color again in the world, while learning that trauma and suffering is not unique to combat veterans and that there is a universal love that can be found in that knowledge; this soldier, who I will probably never meet, whose testimonial got me to admit to myself and then say out loud I was suicidal; my current girlfriend for her acceptance and for helping me regain the concept of a future…I can go on….

But I want to make sure I make special reference to Shea Brown, the originator of the quote at the top of this blog. It was his kindness over soup, hamburgers and coffee at Liberty Tavern in Clarendon Square that got me to believe in myself again and to this day serves as an inspiration for me. I don’t know if he intended to have that kind of impact on that rainy January day; I suspect not, as I believe both angels and demons have purposes uncontrollable. Regardless, he did, and his kindness is one of the reasons I am alive and that’s not hyperbole, exaggeration or drama.

Peace works both ways. For just as sure as it can be nurtured and grown within you, it can be given to someone else. I’m not sure why it has taken 40 years for me to learn this, but I now know it.

Peace.

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With Shea Brown at the 2013 Ridenhour Prizes, Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Stay with it Matt, you are not traveling on the road to recovery alone… As you said in your eloquent “Gratitude” post – heartfelt words and stories do inspire and help heal all of us…

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  2. You are one of the strongest guys I have known Matt. You are on the right road… Those who suffer as you have will follow you on that road. You are a true leader and an exceptional human being that brings out the best in everyone you touch…

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    • By the way my appreciation for you and the work you and brothers and sisters do every day for us as police cannot be explained. You also are a great husband, terrific friends and are the best father your sons could ever have. It’s dudes like you Sean that make our communities safe and that serve as role models for how men should behave and lead their lives. Peace brother.

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  3. Matt, Your sincere honesty in this blog touched my heart. You should be so proud of yourself for everything you have accomplished, everyone you have helped and continue to help. The world could use more people like you.

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    • Thank you Lisette. However, you are a nurse who saves lives every day. You have four beautiful boys you are raising to be good young men. You have a husband that is a constant work in progress and thank God someone like you is keeping him in check 😉 It’s women like you that make this a better world. Thank you Lisette.

      I hope you guys are all well in MA. Give my best to Eric.

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      • You are too nice. All is well here. The kids keep us on our toes! Please call when you are in town, we always enjoy your company.

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  4. Matthew,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are a brave man. I hope one day to be brave enough to tell my family about my story. I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009. The traumatic event occured in 1993. It took me 16 years to finally get help. It took another 4 years to really want the help and accept it. I relapsed about 2 weeks ago and thats when I decided to go in to a IOP program. Being there with others and sharing our stories has been an amazing experience. Sharing our stories has helped me more than anything. I am looking forward to reading your blog. God bless you.

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    • Thank you Grace for your note. I was very reluctant to go to group therapy, I didn’t think I was the same as others and didn’t think I would learn or get anything from participating in a group. I was so wrong.

      I am very glad to know your story and very happy that you are getting help and living a better life for yourself. I’ve relapsed too, it’s part of the process and the journey. I’m accepting of the fact that I may relapse again. I know if I do though, I have many people in my life who will get me back on the right path.

      May I ask if you have shared your troubles with your family?

      I hope to hear from you again Grace. Please feel free to contribute your story if you would like.

      Peace,
      Matt

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