Military Psychology

Grinding the Blade

The following is a piece written by a Veteran who prefers to remain anonymous. If this resonates with you, please share your experience below.

I need to compete.
I need the eyes of judgement and assessment on me holding me accountable.
I need the struggle and hardship of pushing myself to be better, mentally and physically.
I need to sweat, breath heavy until the taste of metal creeps into my throat, I need the pain of pushing my physical limits.
I need hard work.
I thrive in this primitive element of strain.

Call me simple, but I need to be on edge, sharp, always honing the blade.

Life’s struggles has had that blade smashed on a rock until dull and bent, that primitive animal state, emaciated. ‘Like driving a Ferrari with the e-brake on’ a friend once told me.

There is a way back. I just need to find it.
Head up, leading into a headwind, lean in and push forward.

It’s time to leave this dark place behind me, make it a memory.

Time to work the edge sharp again, to feel the pain of growth, to grit, to push through the pain.

I’m ready.

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  1. The edge has more life lived in a brief while than eighty years of couch potato, though of course this could not compare with eighty years on the edge! Most people do not know what to do with peace! Luxury is corrupting, ease empty. The edge in a good and just cause is most worthwhile, but in a dishonorable cause, even the courage is a waste, and one would be better off at home with their self esteem and sissy-mod (“whose to say, just cause/tyranny?”) social science, as General Patton and General Washington used to say.

    P.S. Steve, there is a good discussion of suicide in general at Takingthemaskoff, the blog about his friend Joe. Juliethemadblogger is also very good as an exponent of anti-psychiatry. Bot cites are written from profound experience on the inside. Vets are subject to alot of B.S. medicine. We think antidepressants are the crucial cause in the anonymous public shooting epidemic in the U.S.- the prescription drug industry unregulated, the same guys who did oxy for the heroin dealers.

  2. I am the widow of a Soldier killed in Iraq and this reminds me so much of who my husband was… he got out of the Army in 1992 and hated it because he missed being challenged and pushed. Everyone around him, showed up and got by. He once had a boss tell him to chill because he was making everyone else look bad. He lived for his reserve weekends, and after a year deployed overseas for Bosnia, going back to being a civilian became unbearable. It nearly destroyed our marriage. In 1998, he was finally approved for active duty and everything changed. The next 8 years were the best and happiest of my life and his, because he (really we) was back where he belonged… “sharpening the knife”.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I am not sure why I was drawn to this post because I have no contact or experience with any war Veterans. I really did appreciate the poem though.

    About 2 hours after I read the post, I got a notification of a new video clip from my Subscribed channels. To my surprise…it was about helping Veterans!

    I’m not sure if it will help you and anyone else, but I will share the link here

    Best wishes,

    Sonya Kassam

  4. This is a very touching sentiment. I appreciate his raw honesty and emotion. I certainly wish other veterans could tap into this or any other feeling at a time some of them wish not to feel anything anymore. My father couldn’t throw himself into anything except alcohol and retreat from the world. Reengagement took too many decades to salvage any relationships around him. He never searched for or accepted the help of his other pained comrades till it was far too late in life to help him regain a foothold in society. I’m glad this post is out there.

  5. Having hope and purpose are critical for our existence. Some do well with minimal challenges and some need to be in that “flow” of full-frontal engagement. I wonder, are we always like that from birth or socialized through life. Quiet meditation requires introspection, but “ginding the blade” avoids spending time with yourself or others. Living on the edge is an addiction. The rush of adrenalin and endorphins created the needed ecstatic experience many of us crave. Nice introspection of the “what”, difficult to really grasp the “why”. War provides the “what”.

  6. Pain is a fickle partner, it can trick you. I also thought I could work through the pain several times in my military service, by the time I admitted to pain the joint no longer worked and the repair was no longer possible. It took years after that point to admit I was broken, I tried to hide it to not be seen as less than everyone else. Now one year after retirement, i have gained weight, lost self-esteem and at last found my old friend pain. A friend recommended a gluten free diet to reduce joint swelling, the catch is no pain medication otherwise I can not tell which foods are my triggers. Push through the pain, yup but ignore it at your peril, pain is there to stop your stupidity for the most part. Too bad some do not listen, I know I was one of those.
    Signed, LoL (Limping for Life)

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