Soldier With a Backpack Living and Dying Simultaneously: Linda Diane Wattley
Images and look deep within your eyes to find whom you really are and why you are here on this earth? Everyone is here for a reason and all too often there are others who will beat us down, manipulate us and create fear within our minds, hearts and souls in order to limit our options and make us feel unworthy. But, what happens when someone you love betrayals your trust, claims they love you more than just words can say and you are no longer safe. You awaken in your own bed yet you know something has happened and not being able to verbalize or explain it makes it fester within you for a long time. Friendships do not come easily and a mother who falls prey to the violent hand of a father you want to love but find it hard to not fear. A mother who finally realizes that to live and survive she needs to leave. Leaving you at the mercy of this man makes life hard for you and your siblings and yet you manage to survive. Hoping to be reunited with your mother is often blocked by the court, your father and her own weakness for drinking, yet somehow you pray for her return to your life as your father decides to create a new family of his own and you now have a stepmother an the playing field changes and the rules are different as you now have to not only listen to him but her too. The author allows readers to understand her fears, emotional upheavals and her disappointments from an early age as adults betray her, friends leave her and members of the community ridicule her as she seems like an outcast living in a world that makes her feel invisible. But, Linda has a strong spirit, strong will and somehow as you read her story and get to know her better and her renewed faith in God and his plan for her you the reader will understand just how remarkable and persistent she is in order to come out ahead. Failings, strife, family discord, losing it all and yet she manages to take what some might say a Ferris Wheel ride as she starts at the bottom and slowly rises to the top seeing the world from many different angles until she finds one that belongs to her. Experiences within her community, living with a violent and abusive father, a step family that tried to embrace her yet really did not and a stepmother who did not shun or hurt her when others did. Being overweight made her the brunt of many remarks and yet she managed to prevail and withstand the criticism. Learning to care about others and trusting adults was difficult and relationships with boys and young men took time. This is a critical journey for Linda as she shares her thoughts, hopes, dreams, discords, disappointments, successes and failures with readers and her life in the army overcoming many traumatic experiences and dealing with PTSD and much more. Everyone that has gone through a difficult time whether in the army, in battle or their own personal war with health, family, abuse or violence or traumatic experience can become stronger and understand that they can rise above, become whole again and deal with the past and move ahead to the future experiences. Within this story your will meet Bryan the man who opened up her heart to love and gave her a new meaning in life. You will meet her two amazing sons Bryan and Jamar and learn about their love for their mother, how they stood by her and still do as she traveled through many difficult journeys, almost lost her life in an accident, had to be hospitalized for a long time and yet never wavering or giving up on her. Nightmares plagued her waking hours and living in a vacuum at times trying to find the light that would shine on her and give her hope. Death entered the life when losing her brother Tony, facing the reality, having to call for help and never wanting to let go.
Losing her husband and having to bring up two young children added to her inner stress. The realities that set in and the support she received from her mother, stepmother and friends allowed her to take a deep breath and using what she describes so vividly our vibrations, feelings, thought processes and following her inner pain she was able to channel her stress and realize what she was enduring every hour of every day. “ I own everything about me. I realize there is so much about me that makes me a unique presence in this world. I love me with all my heart and soul,” in her own words.
The author did extensive research into PSTD and even realized that she was suffering some form of it too reliving many of the traumas she went through as a young child, losing her brother, the violence her mother had to withstand, the army and even trying to help her own son stay alive. The pain that she felt from this disorder is not uncommon but facing it and dealing with it plus moving ahead and taking control is what kept her and still does vibrant and able to cope with anything that is handed to her. Plus her faith in God and prayers gave her strength. The nightmares she had, the visions that appeared and the fact that at times she felt she was the main character in her own television show. In her own words the author relates the following: when it is cold outside and you have to walk in it, are you going to focus on the coldness or are you going to focus on the blessedness of being alive, or sing a song, laugh whatever it takes to get your attention on something better. Writing this book was her mainstay, her powerful tool or her secret weapon as she states to beat PSTD. So, she took her backpack, filled it with memories that she owned realizing that if she kept moving and kept filling it with the good and tossing away the negative and the bad she would finally be free! The choices she made were difficult and the sacrifices many as she took a journey in life that many would not survive. When finally released from living without her mother she rejoiced. Losing Tony was hard but finding her own path helped as she met Byron, still cherishes his memory, has two amazing sons and a family that she is truly blessed and special.
The power of our words, our thoughts, our feelings often helps to generate a special kind of peace and understanding as to who we are and what we want others to know. Never let anyone put you down and the way you look is who you are so when you look in the mirror now I am sure that you see Linda. In her own words: Looking at life all roads point to a journey. We are just passing through here. A powerful book, compelling and one that will help others understand the struggles we endure, the victories we experience and the powerful journey of life!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine