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Thomas Osborn
09-05-2013, 09:50 AM
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

(Original blog post may be found here (http://ptsd-veterans.blogspot.com/2013/09/frustration.html).)

Janet Rosen
09-05-2013, 09:59 AM
It must be incredibly frustrating.
Was it less so when - IIRC - your classes were right where they already were?

lbb
09-05-2013, 10:34 AM
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.

The only thing I would add to this is that the benefits you do are not always obvious. You might want to share that with the recreation director, who seems to feel (not unreasonably) that if no one participates, they're not getting any benefit. Sure, they're not getting all the benefit they might...but someone in this state does receive a benefit from your act of reaching out and offering. It's part of the healing process, I think, and essential to learning to trust the world again: to know, to have it repeated no matter what your response, that people are offering, that they want you -- YOU, just as you are, all knotted-up and hurt. And it's especially important to have those offers come from those who have some distance. When people are traumatized, they (and we) tend to think that most of the help will come from those closest to them. Well, maybe it does, in many cases...but just because someone is close, doesn't mean they are best equipped to help, particularly when the person they're trying to help may sometimes refuse it -- that puts strain on the relationship, in both directions. Sometimes someone isn't yet ready to accept the help that is offered; refusing/rejecting a loved one carries a lot of baggage with it, that may make it a lot harder to go back to that same source later and say, "Is the offer still open?" You're doing more than you know, Tom, just by offering with a calm spirit and open heart. No matter how many people come onto the mat, you're doing a lot.

Krystal Locke
09-08-2013, 02:58 AM
We can't make anyone come to an aikido class, PTSD or not, VA or not. And it is dangerous to think that someone else needs what we have to offer. Offer it in general, let the folks who can use it pick it up.

I think you are entirely right to show up, be available, and give what you have to those who show up. Anything more is coercion, or flat out ignoring what the vets say they need.

Rob Watson
09-09-2013, 11:23 AM
Sometimes just being there (and they know you are there) is enough comfort. I know I take great comfort in knowing those folks I've trained with are there even though I'm not there with them.

Larry Feldman
09-11-2013, 04:19 PM
You are doing the right thing, so stop being so hard on yourself.

Just a thought, if you plan to do some of your own training during that time, bokken, jo, rolls, walking through techniques,, so you get some practice in. Put up a sign - Will to instruct -students welcome!

That way at least you get to practice....

I have been told Tohei used to say....and I am paraphrasing..... "I am just hear watering the flowers, if someone wants to slip their cup in and get a drink they are welcome to"