Do you remember a time when something happened to you and you thought to yourself, I didn’t expect that? I can remember very clearly the first time I came head-to-head with my trauma. I was at my first ever Wounded Warrior Project Odyssey event. I was a little apprehensive about going because up to this point all my trauma was hidden deep in the depths of my soul. But over time it became increasingly clear I needed to address it.
The exercise was led by experienced Warrior Leaders that had placed a large number of photos face up on the ground and asked all of us, as a group, to select out one photo. The exercise was simple, select a photo that fits where you are now.
We will then share what that photo means to us. Easy enough I thought! I did not think about the thousand times I wanted to cry since the Wounded Warrior event started and that I held it inside. I did not think about the knot in my throat every time another person spoke about their own hardships and how I wanted to scream “me too”!!, but I continued to think it was best to stay silent and listen.
I found the photo that spoke to me as soon as I saw it.
It was perfect and depicted exactly how I felt. It was a picture of a woman in worn-out clothes holding a sign that stated love/hate.
This little photo was a mirror to everything I held deep inside.
I loved my time in service. I loved many of the things I was able to see and be a part of. I loved my fellow brethren who time and time again assisted me through obstacles, tribulations, and long nights in the deserts in Iraq.
I loved so many of the memories I still have to this day, but I hated that I was injured while serving in the Iraq wars. I hated that I felt shame, guilt, and weakness toward something I had no control over and could not do anything about. I hated that I felt I needed to hide this part of myself because I felt others did not understand and would feel the judgment, I had of myself.
This photo showed everything I was battling over with two simple words: love and hate.
After several people shared their photos and their many different answers, some related to war, some not, it came to me.
I started off strong and said I selected this photo because I loved serving my country and…. Then it all fell apart. I could not say the words for hate. I could not! I looked over at my husband and looked at everyone else and literally ran out of the room. I have never in my life ran out of a room, but I did!! I dove toward a chair in the open area outside the conference room, buried my head in my hands, and cried. I cried and cried and cried. Joe Fox with Wounded Warriors came out and calmly sat with me as I continued to cry. I could tell people were worried about me, but I could not stop. The words started coming out in sobs as I tried to share with Joe what I hated was that I was weak.
What I hated as a soldier becoming injured was the worst thing that could have happened to me. It was not death and sacrifice, it was not coming home whole and victorious, it was injured and weak. A failure to make it out in one piece.
I vomited the words about how every time I drive past debris on the road, I think I am going to get injured again, or how when I pump gas into my car, I think it will explode onto my face or simply turning on the oven causes panic as I imagine the device ripping out the over half of my neck.
And there it was. All the things I held inside, out into the world.
After being with Joe for some time I finally went back into the room. Tears fell down my face all day. I had acknowledged that this was the beginning and now I needed a plan to keep moving forward.
This memory was 6 years ago and my journey to where I now have not been an easy one. My decision to start my own business was not cheered by others but was something I felt I needed to do for myself to continue to grow and heal. I have a love/hate relationship with entrepreneurship but continue to understand that I need to constantly be learning and growing to sustain my peace over my trauma.
When I decided to start a business, I had far fewer tears and was more joyous of an occasion, but the lessons learned to continue to tell myself I need a plan. If we decide to start something no matter what it is, what is our intention? What is the plan?
As with recovery, the plan is always changing because you are learning what is right for you. What someone has done, may or may not work for you, trust me!
A good business plan will help guide you through each stage of starting your business and its management. There are no right or wrong ways to write a business plan, but some are more professional than others.
Most fall into two categories, traditional or lean. Traditional business is more common and uses a structure that allows you to get into detail in each section whereas a lean start-up plan focusing on the most important points and key elements of your plan.
Check out this link https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan to help get yourself started.
One platform that has been great for me is Warriors Rising. I came across this site through another veterans Facebook and checked them out and am still going through their program. Warrior Rising empowers US Military veterans and their immediate family members by providing them opportunities to create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow American veterans, and earn their own future. https://www.warriorrising.org/
Sometimes the road to business startup comes in your 20’s because you have a great new idea, maybe it comes in your 30’s because you find a gap in resources and you want to fill it, or maybe for some like me, the journey started long before you even knew it. The start for me was the day I was injured at war; I just didn’t know the plan yet!