When we judge, we compare something new with something old, something that has the potential to teach us new and exciting lessons, with something we already know or have experienced in the past.
Naturally, this is hardly fair. Even though there are many parallels in how our lives unfold, everybody has a different story that makes him or her unique and special. Most of my Veterans resent being compared to others, and even more, having their experience of war compared to other traumatic experiences that can happen in someone’s life. The trauma of war doesn’t translate into the civilian world. It is in many ways unique and can only be truly understood by other Veterans, those who have been there, who share the experiences, the sounds, feelings and memories.
A non-military person will never truly understand and be able to relate the way a Veteran can.
In my work, I have learned that Veterans don’t compare scars.
One doesn’t listen to another’s story, only to compare it with others and then decide which one is the worst. Instead, one listens with compassion, and gives respect, support and validation and confirmation of what happened. I don’t know if this mindset is true for everybody, but it is true for those I have been working with.
I see great value in this approach. Honoring each other for our lives, our stories, our successes and our trauma is most likely one of the most healing things we can ever do for each other.