“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.”—Ivy Baker Priest
Sometimes, when we hit bottom after an extremely traumatic event (or multiple events) we may find that, (as hard as it seems at the time) the experience contains the very seed for growth and enlightenment that is needed to process the negativity in a different way.
This happened to me when I reached out for help at the Veterans Outreach Center back in the late 80’s. My life had become a nightmare and I was barely functioning. For too many years I had lived with my (then) husband’s unpredictable and bizarre behavior related to his untreated combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. He had served two tours in Vietnam, in the Marine Corps.
Everything came to a head and a crisis point when in 1987, he decided to see the movie Platoon. During the film I sat next to him, and observed that he seemed unmoved, almost like a statue. I found this to be an odd, abnormal and frightening reaction. The film had made me extremely upset. I couldn’t understand his seeming lack of emotion.
Upon leaving the theater, he refused to speak to me. When we arrived home he put on his dog tags again, and our life after that bore no resemblance to normalcy whatsoever. He retreated into a shell where I could not reach him. He seemed to be in a catatonic state.
That was when I made the call for help to the VA. I was told I was eligible for counseling. (My husband refused any help.) Before long I was sitting in a room at the Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) spilling my guts out. At the end of the session, my kind, compassionate counselor (a Vietnam vet) suggested I begin reading Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning.
Viktor Frankl was a neurologist and psychiatrist from Vienna, Austria. During World War II, he spent 3 years in various concentration camps including Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau.
Frankl went on to develop Logotherapy which is founded upon the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in one’s life that is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans.
Some of the basic principles of logotherapy are:
- Life has meaning under all circumstances, even miserable ones.
- Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
- We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.
I highly recommend reading Frankl’s book and his works. It has helped me put my life and my own “suffering” into perspective. It can do the same for you.
For more info on Frankl and Logotherapy, go to: