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It is 2014 now. Another year further away from my survival experience during war, another year closer to the next SHTF situation that can happen anytime. Last year was wild year for me. I enjoyed all discussion and feedback I got for my survival course and here on the blog. At the same time I went through very dark times again. Depression and some anxiety caught up with me.
Most of you here are more experienced survivalists and preppers and many of you have great bug out plans, have good amount preps in their storage and understand what signs to look out for. At some point, when you have things in order, I hope everyone does not forget to live life in current moment, without worrying about SHTF.
Survival is double edged sword. You want to be mentally prepared for worst case scenario but nobody can without having been there. Sometimes when I read survival forums I see people living in fear, even life is not bad for them at the moment. If I have wish for everyone for 2014 it is that people get serious about survival and preparedness but also enjoy good times as long as they last.
Anxiety, depression and negative thinking can take your energy away before anything starts. This here now is post I wrote some months ago, to put my feelings and thoughts in words, but Jay thought it was too negative to post at that time. I agree but now it makes sense to highlight the price I had to pay for becoming “survival expert” without wanting it. I’m better since some weeks now but this post gives you maybe idea of what kind of scars constant struggle for survival can leave. Celebrate the good times in 2014. Nobody knows how long this lasts.
I am kind of dead man. Emotionally I guess. I caught myself during my regular walks yesterday evening 2-3 maybe 7 year old girls looking at me and giggling.
I needed few seconds to realize why. While I was walking next to playground something just caught my eyes. 30 centimeters long green grass was slowly moving because of breeze, and smell entered my nose. I guess I froze and stood paralyzed.
I did not see the joyful and noisy playground anymore. Instantly I was moved back, 20 years ago and one other picture was in front of me. Me and my cousin are walking through the wet green grass, there are maybe 7-8 dead people around us, freshly killed in that grass.
And smell from the grass was so powerful and it is a good smell. Like spring, like freedom, it smells like youth, like young girls and boy teenagers drinking wine and listening to guitar playing.
It was impossible to comprehend and put together smell of grass and dead folks in the grass at the same time.
I do not know for sure for how long I stared at the grass next to playground, but I had strange look probably, because kids were giggling. One man, father probably, came and looked at me then quietly moved kids from my vicinity. I figured that I probably also had strange and not so nice glare in my eyes.
I never know what is gonna be, and when. I met guy from the same area where I was during the one period in war, guy was looking young, but he wasnt a kid. We were talking about war, and hard days. I asked him „do you remember Siljo, he died from wound infection?“
Guy was starting to look confused. Then he told me „damn man, I was born that year when he died“. I mean damn, he was something like 20 year old dude.
I am still living kinda in war, 20 years have passed but I still see myself as a guy from that war. I remember everything. Every dead guy. Right now I can smell that rotten smell of gangrene that took one guys leg, and his life later. It is still in my nose, and 20 years have gone by.
That 20 years are gone like in dream, everything after that war is like dream, in terms being blurry, and I keep catching myself asking „what was that yesterday?“ about something that happened yesterday, and I do not have clue.
When I walk out every second guy or woman I see remind me of somebody from that time, someone dead. When I hear kids laughing out, I hear screams inside me.
Loud music from the car that just passed me reminds me of song that was played on big speakers after calls for surrender as part of enemy propaganda.
Hell is not burning fire. Hell is impossibility to forget things. Hell is seeing these things in front of you again and again.
I caught myself thinking that best days of my life are over, not because I had it, oh no. It is because I am not able to feel real joy anymore. My tasks in life are blurred, and I think all that I want is to go somewhere next to sea and lay down and watch how clouds are moving and then sleep and sleep.
Man, something entered in my chest 20 years ago, and it is burning like hell from time to time, it is literally choking me and terrifying me. It is rage, it is sorrow, and it is tiredness. Pure horror it is. It is there and I can not kill it, I can somehow fool it and cheat it for some time. But even when it is not burning I can feel it.
When it burns I live through all again and again. Sometimes I use walking to kinda exhaust it. I keep walking and walking or go to gym and move weights to exhaust me. Sometimes I notice my kid na that my empty stare is scaring her.
I do not have friends because there are no common topics. I am alone. I am afraid of rage somewhere hidden inside me, I can feel it but I do not have clue when it will erupt and against who. I have feeling that it will be blind rage when it comes out.
I think about a good friend. He was one of the toughest people during war. He lived for some time good after war and we went shooting together in forest. He was preparing as well. He did not do anything that made his life worse. But suddenly, just few months ago he simply stopped to care. When man get caught in wild river and there is danger of getting drowned, without any help he can fight longer or shorter time, and eventually he will simply get released – flow free in the river, then he will get few short but tremendous moments of peace, of watching to the sky, then he will drown and die and is swept away.
My friend did just that. He just surrendered, I still try to swim.
I can not eat, all food taste same, actually no taste at all, my mouth is dry, I feel like I chewed sand.
It is what it is.
What I want to say is that there is enough darkness out there. Whatever puts you down in 2014 and future, remember to swim and not give up.
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For man to have family means lot of things. Family means a lot of work and worries, but also a lot of happiness. A good family means support when you are having problems or you are in some difficult periods of your life of course.
When SHTF it can work in both ways too, bad and good, but definitely having family will help you more than being alone.
I mentioned many times why it is better to be with other (close) people when SHTF then to be alone. My course where I talk in detail about my experiences in war has many situations that I would not have survived without my family.
There is one other side to that, during SHTF when anarchy and fighting for survival means violence and you see people close to you get hurt or killed.
Lots of people here in my country have gone through that, including me, and of course after first reactions that are common to all of us (grief, anger, sadness…) we react different.
How we managed to cope with the pain, formed our whole future life, it formed us, destroyed some, and even gave strength to few.
When you lose someone because of illness or old age or traffic accident, maybe you may accuse bad health system, or similar, or even God, but eventually you will say „It is life, we all gonna die, it is how it is supposed to be“.
But when you lost someone close because someone shot him during a fight between two opposite groups (because they different, or because the hate each other, or just because one group wanted resources from another group) it is different.
Or let s just say that you are watching your close friend or family member dying because you lack some medicine after everything collapsed, but you know that there is medicine for some people there, and no medicine for others, because of power, wealth, politic or religious reasons.
It can change your whole perspective of life. It can put lots of RAGE in you.
And it is RAGE written in capitals. It lasts for years, and it can drive all your decisions, it can consume you at the end.
I’ve seen (and still see) lot of people here with it.
One example would be guy who watched how his family was killed just because they are different nationality from the killers.
He survived because he played dead, later he said that actually it was not about playing, he simply was shocked and paralyzed. He was 13, he survived his wounds and grew up into man whose mission is to prepare for the next SHTF event, next war.
He finds his meaning of life in preparing for the next SHTF, but with lots of hate and rage, he became obsessed with hating other groups of people, who killed his family, and actually at the end he became like them. He is alone now, no family, just hate.
All his life has become about preparing for revenge. Rage and hate is driving him. He keeps talking about big day of payback. His mission is to make other people lose their families like he lost his one.
Other example is man who lost his daughter who was 9 years old. She suffocated inside burning house that other folks turned on fire, he survived.
He had some period of hard drinking, after that he turned himself towards religion. His life is now about love and forgiveness. He is in some NGO that is trying to create dialogue between victims from all sides. He is alone too and obsessed with his mission.
I drink coffee with him sometimes, he is all into love and forgiveness. He is not really preparing for next SHTF event because he is believing in „non violent solving of problems“ and similar.
Both guys, stories, and examples are how things can end up.
I drink sometimes coffee with the hateful guy too. Where he gives me „adrenaline“, other guy gives me „peace“.
I like both of them for what they are but if you ask me now, I think that for the future SHTF event, they are both running into major problems with their ideas.
First one is blind because of his hate, other dude because of his love. I think (and that is only my opinion) that they both take wrong lessons from their experiences.
It is not all about love and not all about hate. You may call me idiot but yeah too much love and faith into the people may (and will) kill you eventually too.
As I said, I ve lost family members and friends too, and I had my portion of coping with that. And it was not perfect, I had periods when RAGE „colored“ my life dark red, when all my actions were driven by it.
Luckily I overcame that. I have not get ridden of my RAGE but toned it down, so rage now. Probably it is not even possible, but I kinda learned to control it. Sometimes it still controls me, but it is rare.
I like to think that love and hate are parts of life (rage too) and too much of each one can misguide you actually. It is just me, maybe I am wrong. At the end of day, survival is about having options.
Use your love to form strong connections with your group, use your hate to have energy and motivation to reach your goals (but do not let any of these emotions control you).
Have good time with people close to you in coming days. No matter what your mission is, nothing is worth to be alone.
Some three years ago the wife and kid of my friend were driving in the car, and on some intersection they hit another car. It was very small accident, both cars were driving very slowly and they only scratched cars.
In other car there were 4 pretty drunk guys and they immediately jumped out of the car and started to curse the woman and kid, she locked the car and called her husband.
Guys were young and drunk, and most probably they did not mean anything too bad other to look very cool and dangerous, but one of them pulled knife in order to scare lady. It was in the evening and without too many folks on the street, and even few people who came by did not want to interfere.
One of them did call the police. Her husband came very fast, maybe in 10 minutes and found them yelling at the car and his wife, the guy with the knife was piercing tires.
My friend jumped out of the car and broke the jaw of the guy with knife with his boot, then beat other tree dudes in few minutes. They suffered broken ribs, head fracture, jaw fracture and ruptured spleen.
Bystanders said that he started to strangulate one of the guys when two policeman came, they separated him from the guy, but then he turned over and started to strangulate policeman.
Finally other policeman knocked him out with baton. When he regained consciousness he was in jail.
He got out of the whole problem thanks to witness of the bystanders, and he got mild penalty because of attacking police officers thanks to his psychiatrist.
He is 170cm and some 70kg guy, and you may ask everyone (before the event) about him and everyone is going to say that ”he is very nice and peaceful guy, someone who always avoids trouble, actually someone who is scared of violence, guy who trusts in the system and love between folks”
I was with him during the war. Our SHTF 20 years ago and I know different. He was (and still is) one of the most dangerous guys I ever know.
Point of the story is not to say that violence happens, you all know that, point is more like that you never judge folks by the look.
To be more precise, really dangerous guys do not look for the trouble, they more look how to avoid it because they know what trouble may bring. It is same with “psychos”. If you come across someone wearing funny clothes and acting crazy he is probably just playing. Real psychos try to be and look normal.
Back to violence. When you have great experience in using violence, you may say that you join kind of club of people, and that changes some things for you.
People do not like to be around folks who have killed other folks, no matter why they did it, it is experience that changes folks. Actually once you did it you see that you are capable to do it, and you know you are capable to do it again, and again. A big taboo is broken once you killed. This is scary for people around you.
Some of those things are bad, but also other are giving you some advantage over the common folks.
Yes, you may be sure that after taking some lives you are not gonna be same man, you are gonna be outside of that group of common people.
During SHTF it makes sense to be known as a guy who is not taking sh.t easily, but only to a certain point, after that point your „fame“ of being tough guy may attract other, maybe tougher guys who want to take you down only because that gives them more „fame“.
If level of violence rises around you, you want to still “blend in”. Do not stick out as weak and not as extra tough. Maybe a bit more tough than average but that is enough.
Using violence in order to survive and using violence because you like it are two different things, and I have seen people who are „discovered“ themselves in doing violence because they like the feeling of power that comes with it.
I know the man who enjoy to do it. He was the family man who started everything just like most of the us when SHTF. He did what he have to do in order to survive.
Over the time he started to enjoy everything. After some time even his family members start to feel not comfortable in his presence because there is this guy who now has new option to act. He can kill and take life, just like this. This is scary for most people.
Keep in mind people talk about what happened. Just to process it or make sense. So people will talk when you kill. Stories come back to your group. Some people get wrong impression of you because they do not understand situation, they do not understand the high after you took life.
The guy I was talking about was no drug dealer, or some criminal mind. He was normal family guy, he just found something weird and dark inside him when SHTF.
He died when he became too careless because he believed he is way to strong and too smart. 20 year old woman stabbed him during a trade. He was too confident. It came as surprise for man who was proud and famous for being a killer.
This can happen to everyone. This story like other experiences from my time in war I share in my survival course are important lessons that never become out of date.
What you have to understand is feeling of being in power to take other peoples lives can put some strange ideas in your head, and we all suffered with different amounts of that, but some guys forget that this is not what survival is about.
Today in our world most of the „tough“ guys are tough because other folks are saying so, they are living on that fame and other folks fear. Reputation is everything, so most of the people believe in it and do not want to question it.
When SHTF having the man in your group or family who is something like weird version of action hero is not advisable, I mean it is no contest in body count, and blind wish to do violence all the time usually will bring you trouble.
In todays „normal“ world, when I walk in the evening and I see some trouble in front of me, lets say I see some guys drinking and looking at me, I see possible trouble, you know what will I do? I will avoid it, I will go to the other side of the street.
Now you can call me coward I do not care, but thing is that I know if I get involved in fight I ll do some things without hesitation.
I am known for what I am capable, and I am remembering (too well) what I did years ago when I was faced with violence. I would not have safety switches (or something that would tell me „OK now it is enough“) so I like to avoid it.
If you carry gun and brain at same time, you do not look for trouble too.
One of the other things that my experience brought me is some weird ability to „recognize“ dangerous guys, and I know some folks can see it in me too.
I am not talking here about some weird powers, I am talking about look in the eyes that says something like „Oh I know how to hurt you very bad, I did that before. And I will do that again if I am forced too, and I ll do it very efficient“. Someone who has all possibilities including putting you in extreme pain or ending life looks at you different, interacts different.
War vets with close quater fighting experience from anywhere know perfectly good what I am talking here about. Convicts and others who lived in violent environment know too.
At the end of the day, using violence is very bad thing, it destroys you. It can also destroy relationships of people close to you because it changes you and changes how people see you.
You can work on yourself on many levels and fields for years, but still that does not change fact that you are simply different man from majority of folks around you.
Years after the collapse that I lived trough I may only think that I am like everyone around me, actually I am not, and in the split second I am ready to turn back into what I was in that time. People who have not been there think this is good option to have… Selco is prepared… yes, but I carry this also around when I go to the park to relax and see families play together. This dark side never leaves you.
If you have experienced or been involved in violence, please share in comments how this changed your life or life of people you know.