Wounded Not Worthless
At 23 I decided that it was time to actually do something with my life. That is when I decided to join the US Army in the Military Police Corps. I left for basic training three days after my 23rd birthday and it was the greatest decision I ever made. I spend two year in Kaiserslautern, Germany with the 230th Military Police Company. I completed a one year deployment to Afghanistan. I tell everyone it was the best and worst year of my life. I learned a lot about myself both physically and mentally during that year but it also changed me in ways that I felt no one would ever understand. After my deployment I went to a small detachment unit in Arizona. I had already decided that the military would be my career. My dreams were to lead and guide young soldiers as my NCO’s had before me. Life has a strange way of changing our plans. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis after relapsed caused me to be paralyzed on my left side. Unable to take care of myself and having to learn to walk, eat, and shower again was a challenge but I made it through with flying colors. The damage was done though and the Army set out to medically retire me. My life was over, I didn’t know where I would go from there. I was lost. For a long time. I didn’t know where to go or how to deal with any of the anger and frustration. It took about 6-7 years or more to get back into the swing of things, and by that I mean I was just getting by, almost on auto pilot. It was then that I was approached about participating in a documentary about female Veterans. Reluctantly I accepted, and am a feature Veteran in “Service: When Women Come Marching Home. (www.servicethefilm.com) It won a NY Emmy, sounds great, like I made it through. I did speaking engagements and talk openly about my PTSD and MS. No one knows that its all a face, that I put on the smile and answer the questions because I don’t want others to live in silence. I started working at a local Non-profit organization that was for Veterans, that’s where I met an art therapist. I didn’t even know that art therapy was a thing. I had been to counseling before, 3 times a week for a while. I never felt like it did anything, but art it changed things. Though I never was a patient of this therapist he was willing to show me the ways that art could help. I enjoyed painting, but never did it on a regular basis. During this time I had found snowboarding helped me with my PTSD and was improving my balance. But there isn’t always snow so what could I do? Fast forward to about September 2017, when I moved across country to start a new job as a special needs family support coordinator on a military instillation for active duty Air Force members. That’s where it happened, in my attempt to get families engaged and having fun I created an art group. It was April 2018 I started watching YouTube video on painting while waiting for families to show up for one of my sessions. I decided to work on one myself and participate in the group. It became a passion, almost an addiction. I started watching lots of videos and learning what I can and find that I can’t wait to learn a new skill or trait. I work with acrylic on canvas and feel that one day I might venture out for different mediums but for now it is what brings me peace and lets me be in my own world. My inspiration is usually things I find calming and peaceful. I think it is because my mind is always so chaotic and anxious. When I put those calm images on a canvas those anxious feelings seem to blend into my work. Having just started out without any formal training I still follow instructive videos but try to keep the painting my own.
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