The Daily Jedi: Scars run deep.

Some scars are invisible.

Being a survivor of childhood physical and psychological abuse, family tragedy, a veteran of military service and a recovering alcoholic I understand why people who go through different types of trauma in their lives can suffer from PTSD. For many years I expressed the anger, anxiety and depression so common among PTSD sufferers. I turned to alcohol for help as many do and self-medicated heavily. My scars ran deep but none were visible they were emotional and spiritual and they were scars that could not heal but festered and spread.

I was never diagnosed as having PTSD . Then I never sought professional help and would have refused it had it been offered. There was a stigma attached to it and like any self-centered alcoholic I felt I had myself under control. Treatment was for “lesser” people.

Denial runs deep. Convinced that people were my problem and rotten luck, resentment and self pity fueled my drinking. Over time I became worse, more resentful, more bitter, more angry and more depressed. As a result I drunk more and suffered more and surrendered to a self-perpetuating loop of negativity and drinking. I was addicted to self-pity but I desperately wanted out of the hell I was creating for myself and at times contemplated suicide, although I knew I lacked the courage to try. So the suffering continued. I was sick and in denial.

Anakin’s Pain

Anakin provides a parable of a life not uncommon in the real world. A childhood that included a life of hardship and separation from his mother who remained on Tatooine and later died, a tortured slave of the Sand People. This would have been hard enough but Anakin later returned and tried to save her only to watch her die in his arms, a broken woman. The guilt eventually overcame him.

Anakin had no father figure until Obi-wan Kenobi came along and provided the closest thing to a father he could hope for. It was not enough to save him.

Anakin was brilliant, he was intelligent, healthy and was gifted with the Force. As a Padawan, Jedi Knight and Master he excelled in his duties and was instrumental in some of the Republics major military and diplomatic coups. He had the best training and mentorship the galaxy could offer. Even with the unwavering love of his wife Padme and their forbidden union, a dark cloud still hang over Anakin.

Anakin remained bitter and over time his struggle with his past and the attachments that he felt. His need for control and validation overcame him and he succumbed to the Dark Side and became a servant to it. If Anakin was average Joe he would have ended up an alcoholic or a drug addict and would have spiraled out of control as many of us do. His end would have been in an asylum, a prison or a grave. Anakin clearly suffered from PTSD.

Kenobi’s Resilience

Consider Obi-wan Kenobi, the epitome of equanimity and common sense, by middle age he was also suffering PTSD and like Anakin hid his own demons but handled it far differently. Obi-Wan relied on his training and self-discipline to master the burden service and war had taken.

During the third battle for Genosis Obi-Wan was nearly killed when his transporter was shot down and his team was pinned down under heavy fire and surrounded by battle droids. One by one his soldiers were killed around him as he lay badly injured. Reinforcements arrived and the tide of the battle turned. Obi-Wan and the surviving Clones were saved. The battle left a deep scar on Obi-Wan that would last the rest of the War and into his life as an exile and fugitive from the Empire.

The Scar of Alcoholism

Alcoholism never leaves us, we are never cured and the wringer that we put ourselves through leaves a mark on our soul that we can never remove entirely. The disease not only remains within us but it also has an uncanny way of manifesting itself again in our lives. Alcoholics who have been sober for decades will take a single drink and in no time be as bad if not worse than they were before. Alcoholism remains attached to us like a shadow.

We may seem to be completely recovered but then we are reminded how fragile our sobriety really is. All recovering alcoholics suffer a form of PTSD in some way. Outwardly we may be living happy and contended lives but we never forget that dark place we came from. We never forget what lies in the shadows.

Learn to love yourself as well as the person who suffers beside you, we are all survivors in the same lifeboat. We can rejoice that we have not gone to the bottom and live but the experience stays with us forever as an invisible scar. Only through Love and Forgiveness can we overcome the pain of the past and heal the scars that run deep.