by Nate Nomichith
Trauma comes in many different forms and almost always has some life long affects on daily living. The experiences that we endure throughout our life are permanent and cannot be taken away. We tend to hang on to and reflect on the positive experience in our lives and often we repress some of the bad experiences. The result of burying our trauma has uncontrolled side effects that manifest in many different forms.
What you will read next is my personal experience with trauma, how it has affected my life, my service to my country in the military, and the journey to healing from my experiences.
My father migrated from a country in the southeast Pacific in the late 70's, post-Vietnam war. One of the things that he brought with him was the way that he was raised and was disciplined. So, for the first 16 years of my life, I suffered from intense physical abuse.
Through my entire youth, I had trouble making friends, trouble socializing, trouble with self-esteem, confidence issues, and was an extremely introverted person. By the time I was in junior high school, I had realized that it didn’t matter whether I did right or wrong, I was going to get pounded on either way, so I gravitated towards rebellion. I found myself, at the age of 12 years old, smoking cigarettes, drinking, and experimenting with marijuana. By the time my parents got divorced when I was 16 years old, I had already tried almost every drug on the market at that time as a form of escape from reality.
When my parents got divorced, I saw my opportunity to flee, and my choice was my so-called friends on the street. For the next three years, I would spend my life homeless and in an intoxicated state. When I was 19 years old, I held my firstborn daughter for the first time, and I knew that something needed to change.
I joined the military.
I told myself and everyone else that I did it to become a better father, but deep down I knew I was not worthy and was running from my responsibilities. For the first 10 years of my military career, not a whole lot had changed. My view changed and did frequently every time I moved, but the condition of my heart did not change.
My trauma was still there buried deep beneath the surface where nobody could see, so many issues remained unresolved.
It was at the moment that I was serving a jail sentence for my second DUI while in the military and probably my sixth time being incarcerated for various legal problems, that I knew I needed help. It is only by divine intervention that I had not been discharged from service. I decided that I would explore the healing process.
I first went through substance-abuse treatment through the military and a year-long substance-abuse rehabilitation program. Following that first year, I knew that I needed to stay connected to valuable healing resources, so I became a volunteer for that substance-abuse program. Also, I started seeing military counseling services for trauma healing, anger management, and stress management.
Five years later, I had found some direction and peace, but something was still missing.
For me, this was the moment that I found my spirituality and my
faith in God, which in turn gave me a purpose that put me on a journey to this moment. I have now certified as a Trauma Healing Facilitator, have recently graduated with a Social Work degree, and continuing on to a graduate program for Military Resilience (Military Counseling). I only highlight these last few points to display that you can find purpose from your past. As I stated in the beginning, you can’t change what happened in the past, but you can use it to fuel your future.
I want all my brothers and sisters who have served, are serving, or those who know someone that is serving to know that you are not alone. You are capable, you are able, and it is possible to heal from the events of your past. “Save One Life” is a necessary part of the journey.
The ADPI Team has been so welcoming and influential in exploring healing deeper, and I am forever grateful to have found their team. I look forward to what ADPI HELPS is planning for the future.
REMEMBER ONE THING… IF YOUR STILL BREATHING, THEN YOU STILL HAVE A PURPOSE IN THIS WORLD!