I was halfway through writing this piece when my brother texted me:
“Hey big sis. I’d like you to write about Jen. She is a warrior in my mind and her story needs told too.”
I laughed out loud (for reals) and immediately texted him back:
She was abused as a child at home, bullied at school, and raped as a teen. She learned how ugliness shows itself in the world through the people around her at a very young age. She carried the bruises of the self-hatred, dysfunction and misery personified by the people in her life. She was a literal and figurative punching bag for those who had not yet learned to deal with their own pain.
Because this all began as a small child, she did not know she could defend herself by shutting down her heart and empathy, calling anger forth to protect her like many of our warriors of today have had to do to survive…
So she made herself very small.
She learned to fly under the radar of wrath whenever possible. She became a chameleon, adjusting to the slightest changes in mood and behavior around her of the high-strung and out of control. She exhausted herself striving for an impossible perfection, and wore the marks of every failure to achieve it. She rendered herself invisible to the angry eye at every opportunity.
She did not live in the beautiful, safe world we want for our children.
Being only a shadow of her true self, she married and began to raise two children of her own. She loved them fiercely, and wanted more for them than she had experienced in her own life thus far. Not yet realizing who she was and what she carried inside, she wanted them to know they were loved, important, brilliant, generous and powerful. She wanted them to know they mattered to the well-being of this world. She wanted them to be protected from the worst in life while learning to deal positively with the body blows that would inevitably come in their lives.
Her love for her children planted the first seeds of courage in her warrior’s heart.
When her marriage deteriorated, she came face to face with the man who would be the love of her life, and a powerful catalyst for growth. Tom was a combat veteran struggling to deal with multiple physical and emotional damages while trying to reintegrate into civilian life. He lived with TBI and PTS and while he appeared to be functioning quite normally in his charismatic and entertaining way, inside he was broken emotionally and raging for retribution. It was a text from her, as he sat in a parking garage, gun in hand, that saved his life. At that moment, he chose her, and lived to heal.
The love match made in heaven became a greater love forged in hell.
It has not been easy. She studied everything that tried to break him and became a certified health and wellness coach in the process. She helped him begin healing physically, and the lessening of the pain he lived with daily enabled him to think more clearly and begin dealing with the emotional pain of combat and loss.
Her love in action taught him that helping others heals the self.
As they began sharing their story, other veterans began reaching out to them, and Jen has spent countless hours listening, crying, laughing and counseling others in similar pain and life circumstances. She lets them vent and be heard, she gives them guidance on supplements, nutrition, how to break negative thought patterns and behavior and refers them to additional resources in areas outside of her expertise.
The suicide rate among veterans, as well as the walking dead and wounded called them into service. They created All Secure Foundation to give them a way to reach those who want to give back and those who need to heal.
Many times they are one and the same.
Jen’s story is today’s Warrior’s Wisdom because we do not overlook the obvious. She is not just a warrior in her own right, she is the actual heart of a warrior. She is the heart of her family, our family and All Secure Foundation.
Knee to ground, hand to heart, I am grateful to call her sister.