The Film That Saved Me From Myself

Taji, Iraq 2007

My life has been filled with various darkness throughout. The cards I were given aren’t usually the ones that anyone would just take willingly. The lowest, darkest, and most irresponsible point in my life came in my early 20s.

It wasn’t until after my tour in Iraq that my life would be crashing down. Failed relationships after failed relationships, alcoholic abuse, and surrounding myself with invaluable individuals who used me for my money and popularity.

Post-traumatic stress got the best of me as I failed to mentally prep for my second deployment to Iraq. I was sent home early with no direction. I was working minimum wage at Subway and almost got evicted from my apartment due to rent not being paid. Then a blessing that turned into one hell of a life test. As I am just starting my treatment for post traumatic stress for the first time in my life, I got long-term orders to work in Fort McCoy at the Wisconsin Military Academy. However, I would fail the test.

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Fort McCoy, WI 2009

Even when I found a decent job as a federal employer at Fort McCoy, I would just throw that hard earned money away to partying across the Upper Midwest. I was empty. I had no purpose. I was reckless. I didn’t realize the gift I had with my expressions and writing. I had nothing to live for. I went on years of this lifestyle until I got the call from my mother.

“Kenny is in the hospital…”

One of the few father figures I had in and out of my life (possibly my biological father), was sick. I don’t mean with the flu or even with cancer. Kenny had decades of this reckless lifestyle ahead of me, however the illness he lived with was covered up over the years for my protection, until that very moment in my life. All that was revealed was from a fall from a fucking ladder. A fucking ladder.

With heartache, confusion, and revelations, I turned to my best friend at the time. It was 2010. We both agreed it would be best if I would stop my bad habits. He took all my liquor I kept at his place and hide it. Quitting cold turkey with the drama that ensued was another failed test. My life, the same patterns, but with different faces. Something had to change. However, that was the time I was going blind, yet again, for love.

A lot of people who’ve come and gone in my life don’t know that I’ve tried quitting my party habits in 2010, however it was short lived, as my old habits resurfaced over the next two years. Even as I somehow completed my first college degree. Not sure how, as my days were either filled with drinks or hangovers. So how does this story even relate to any kind of film you may ask? Let’s just say I shook hands with the devil during those years of irresponsibility.

Roy Dupuis as General Romeo Dallaire

2012 came. Curiosity grew. Still struggling without structure in my life. I took a year and a half away from the uniform at the time (still on contract though through the Inactive Reserve), and decided to join the active Army Reserves in McCoy. I wanted to be a different soldier. To find new motivation, I gave into another La Femme Nikita marathon, but nothing was biting. I was urging for something more. I was seriously outdated with every cast member’s work, so I researched and what did I discover? General Romeo Dallaire’s (ret.) story:

This project really spoke out to me as a warrior with Post Traumatic Stress and having Roy Dupuis to play General Dallaire drew me to the project even more. Why? Roy gave up drinking and the party lifestyle prior to filming the television series, La Femme Nikita. This film project had me look up to him even more than I already had growing up. It was the ticket to my next chapter. To actually live life to my fullest ability, but first I had to work through my unsteady roller coaster after years of learning to not feeling a damn thing outside of alcohol.

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Sterling: Trinity Equestrian Center, 2015

Today, I may be a work in progress after decades of untreated chronic PTSD piling up in my life since the age of four, but I wouldn’t be where I am today with the perfect ingredients that have helped me along the way. That includes my military family that got me into and helped me with equestrian therapy and my medical board process to be retired from the military, the advisors and mentors that assist my needs when it comes to my mental health, and the friends that allowed me the opportunity to meet the biggest role model in my short complicated life. Most importantly, Roy taking on the role of General Romeo Dalliare (ret.) wholeheartedly.

With all of this and how my life sorted itself out, I do not use my PTSD as an excuse to fail in life, but as a motivation to keep my purpose alive. Without these struggles, I wouldn’t have resorted to storytelling, and discover art and entertainment as part of my therapy and passion. I know exactly what my triggers are for my anxiety and stress disorders. I know exactly what hobbies and interests I can benefit to improve my behavioral habits. I am more of myself today, because of watching Shake Hands With the Devil and admiring Roy Dupuis’ career. He’s one of the main ingredients in my survival and being as successful and courageous as I am today.