Shine a light on darkness

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Michael A. Motes
  • 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron
This year has been a regretfully record-setting one in the Air Force for suicides.

I feel stirred to expose the darkness and help end this unnecessary negative trend. War itself sinks morale because it's external as well as internal for people of any rank. Those of us who are in the military may feel isolated, thinking no one knows what we're going through.

A recent news report ran a segment on an uncle that had been abusing his nephew. My heart sank. That is a horrific life to start out living. Most of us have had certain experiences that we would've rather not gone through. The dark times happen whether by our own selfish choices or that of others. The problem is we're deceived to think we are alone in the darkness.

Your story and mine is still being written and it has plenty of dark spots on the timeline of life. Affairs, divorce, bankruptcy, arrests, job loss, Article 15, letter of counseling, letter of reprimand, unfavorable information file, referral Enlisted Performance Report, failed physical fitness test, deployment, demotion and post-traumatic stress disorder, just to name a few. My hope is that if you can relate to any of these dark situations, all of which I've been through, then it proves that you and I are not alone in the darkness. It's just that we can't see each other.

I mentioned the story about the boy and his uncle because during this time in his life he was arguing with his mother and fighting with his brother constantly until one day he had had enough. He told his mother what had been going on his entire young life. The mother was outraged and asked him if it was also happening to his brother. He said he didn't know. When the mother asked the brother, he said it had for his entire childhood, too.

The two siblings lived together their entire lives not knowing the other was going through the same darkness. In many ways as Airmen we work, live, and fight side by side, sometimes not even knowing what is going on in our wingman's life. When the pressures build there seems to be a cloud of darkness that surrounds us, and our inner thoughts cloud good judgment, making us think we're alone.

That uncle's evil deeds were exposed and he continues to run from the law. The two brothers have grown closer with their mom and each other. Our problems may not completely go away because the repercussions sometimes make lasting effects, but we can still heal in time.

 The following items continue to help me in my career and are keys to bouncing back and piercing through the darkness.

· Communicate - Get it off your chest.

· Reconciliate - Yes, it happened, so start forgiving yourself and others.

· Support - Have someone close that will help you through any residual hard times.

· Note - Substance abuse will make problems increase, not decrease.

· Use your dark experiences to shed some light and help someone else.

I would be wrong not to give credit to the Creator who guards my spirit, helps me focus on the path, and gives me hope for the future.

I've gone from tech sergeant to staff sergeant to tech sergeant. I've been reinstated when I was once told I would never get to go back. The evidence of bouncing back gives me and those who know me a sense of victory. I still pay child support, have debt and regret choices I've made, but I communicate, reconciliate, forgive, have support and have become support for others. Shed light on the darkness instead of face it yourself.  

You're not alone in the darkness, Airmen.