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Not an Easy Thing to Do

Bob Dare

May 2015

Some years ago, although it seems like yesterday, I endured the ugliness of combat. The details are not important. Suffice it to say that I returned from Viet Nam, a 19 year old kid, angry, bitter, confused and disillusioned. Reintegration with society was more easily said than done. Although I legally could not drink, I had access to those who were and, as with many immature young people I drowned my emotions with alcohol. I was headed down a very dangerous path and was clueless as to how to reorient myself. Worse, I don't think I was even considering reorientation.

Then a day came while I was home on leave and my mother demanded that I meet her at work and take her to lunch. She scolded me severely and told me it was time that I realize that life goes forward not in reverse.

What can I say, this was my mother and she was extremely persuasive. I cleaned myself up and showed up at her office, somewhat uncomfortable, but there just the same. Mom greeted me and began to introduce to me to many of her co-workers. I was growing impatient, and as politely as possible suggested that we go eat.

"Just wait a minute, Mom said, "There is someone I want you to meet".

A few minutes passed and then, approaching from the back of the office building was a young woman who immediately caught my eye. This was the person Mom had wanted me to meet. The requirement for me to be brief here precludes me from filling in all the events that took place after that meeting but Karen became my girlfriend, then my fiancée, and ultimately, my wife.

But that is not the end of this story. Karen and I began dating and she immediately detected my attitude and she saw my growing habits of self-destruction. Why she didn't walk away from me is still a mystery but then again, God does work in mysterious ways. Karen became my friend. She did not pry for my internal thoughts and emotions. She listened and offered only silent consolation. She would wake me from my nightmares, listen to anything that I had to say and never tried to analyze me, but would always be encouraging in a positive manner. She would not tolerate my excessive drinking unlike so many others who had become enablers to my bad habit.

And so, the day finally came when Karen said to me, "The longer you hold the negative feelings inside the longer you will deny yourself the rest of your life."

With that warning I began to open up to Karen. Not all at once, but slowly, and over time, I realized that letting go of the ugly past was medicine for the soul. It opened new doors to my life that I had kept closed. It made me realize that those internal wounds never heal as long as you keep them internal. Needless to say, Karen's wisdom and careful but loving approach to helping me had everlasting effects and 43 years after saying "I do" she remains my best friend and confidant. No, I am not completely healed and doubt that I ever will be. But I obviously overcame the worse and reoriented myself to a path of productivity. For this I can thank my best friend.

True Growth Takeaway: Everyone needs someone that he or she can count on to be a true friend; someone who will listen without judging; someone who will enable you to work towards being your best. Are you a true friend? Do you have a true friend?

True Growth Journaling Questions: Who are my real friends and why?

About the author: Bob Dare served 28 years in the United States Army. He held every noncommissioned officer leadership position culminating with his last three assignments as Command Sergeant Major for the 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Pacific Command and United States Army Forces Command. Bob is also an executive coach and facilitator for LWM III Consulting.

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