PTSD is an interesting multi-faceted beast. Sebastian Junger wrote an incredible book about it called Tribe which is a great, quick read. Also, if you’re into audiobooks, the author reads it himself and has a fantastic voice.
Take a look at this book by Sebastian Junger. You might like it, there's been some good feedback by people in your boots. And some people call BS, with legit grievances. Anyway, it sounds like you're looking for your tribe. Good luck. I can't upvote this enough.
>Which is also why many soldiers, IMO, have PTSD.
Well, I'll have to disagree with this opinion. Other than a physiological problem that varies from person to person and therefore, effects how they react to stress, I think the biggest reason for much of what people categorize as "PTSD" comes from the existential dread of returning to society. That is not to say that maybe a few don't experience what you wrote but rather that there's a social aspect that is missing in today's understanding of combat veterans (the topic's article even hints at it).
This video, "Why Veterans Miss War" does a decent job explaining it.
Essentially, many soldiers enjoy war. They don't enjoy the death and decay but they find the adventure and action quite exhilarating. There's a sense of fulfillment being there with your brothers in arms as you fight the enemy that is out to get you.
It's not limited to these recent wars or solely from an American perspective either. I've read/seen WWII veterans, Vietnam veterans, and Iraqi commandos fighting ISIS in the worst of conditions express this sentiment.
In that sense, as the video points out, the soldier returns to a society that doesn't understand that experience. Meanwhile, the soldiers never really get this "best time of your life" type camaraderie back. It is abrupt and culturally shocking to be pushed back into "regular life".
A lot of veterans point to that grocery store scene in the Hurt Locker as being somewhat of an accurate portrayal of what they face when they come home. Such choices being made there seem meaningless compared to the choices being made in combat (or even just taking care of your fellow troops in general).
This becomes even more apparent when the soldiers experience little to no closure. They lose touch with the friends they made, they don't get updated on the outpost they stayed at and the villagers they may have shared tea with, they may have their own guesses but they don't know what will happen to the geopolitical landscape they helped shape.
As a result, depression and feeling isolated can occur. Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or reckless action can be one way to substitute for this emptiness. The trolley problem, as insane as it may seem, that one might experience in war seems much simpler and meaningful than the vast meaninglessness of society.
The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle by WWII vet and philosophy professor Jesse Glenn Gray does a good job explaining the philosophy of wartime experience and I think it's worth checking out alongside the book Tribe by Sebastian Junger (the speaker in the TED talk above).
I think you are on to something with the sense of belonging.
Look up a book called TRIBE
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging https://www.amazon.com/dp/1455566381/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_hEOICbA2YBVGK
Yes, I do believe philosophy serves as a useful reflective therapeutic tool - especially for something like war where you're encompassed with so many different things (boredom, excitement, absurdity, etc) happening at once without being able to filter it out.
Personally, I recommend The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle by Jesse Glenn Gray. The author was a philosophy professor and WW2 vet who views much of his past experience through a philosophical lens. I think it served to help him come to terms with some of the things he saw overseas.
And much of his experience can apply to any war. The book is quite similar to Tribe by Sebastian Junger, which details the emptiness troops feel when returning from war.
So you don't know what you want.
You thought you wanted one thing.
Got it. Now are directionless. Or I should say destination-less.
Please keep in mind you are asking us which direction and path your life should go by taking a litmus test of what makes other guys happy.
It's fun and easy to have a project like following the dread ladder and applying all aspects of it like it is it's own pursuit or goal.
But shouldn't the end pursuit be sustained baseline happiness?. Personally I call it "over-all" contentment level as extreme happiness (like it's opposite: misery) is a peak or valley on your overall baseline. If you can bump your baseline up over neither happy nor sad aka neutral a few points to constant contentment..you'll be ahead of most in the life game.
I mean, there were just 2 quality posts on the subject.
Side note: Only because I've been around this place a while (and for selfish reasons) I really enjoy these latter stage questions... even still it should be on askmrp. It is a question after all. But really is it one you should be asking us?
Really the rest isn't rp at all...
A lot of people don't know where they want to end up or even think about it until they are long along a path. Or some are directionless. Wouldn't most think contentment (overall satisfaction with an undercurrent of peace with your life) is the goal to the plan? It's the good/service/independence/stability to the cash? Some people focus on the cash for so long they forget what they were saving it for and it becomes the means to an end.
Personally when I don't know what to do I think the best course is always nothing until you've decided unless that nothing actually contributes to an unwanted outcome. But if it's harmless to wait and mull it over... wait and mull it over while doing something that helps your mind.
You've done a lot for you lately. I hear doing things for others helps your sense of mind and I don't mean in a "transaction" sense for your wife or necessarily family. Is there some volunteer work you could do? I always beat the drum of "try meditation" but it does help in a lot of situations where the problem seems to be internal (hint they mostly all are). Similarly or independently of the volunteer work how about join something that has a goal outside of yourself? If you're unhappy living the dream for yourself, maybe help others with theirs until something comes to you. We lose a lot of sense of purpose in the modern world with it's isolation and me centered focus. Perhaps you are suffering from the like of a tribe?.
I can’t pick just one, I’ve absolutely devoured so many books since leaving, but here’s a short list of several favorites that I highly recommend for varying reasons:
The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Doing Good Better by William MacAskill
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Get Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom
Tribe by Sebastian Junger
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
Someone's been reading Tribe , or should give it a try!
I have thought of moving into the woods and just going back to a hunter-gatherer society type of living. Practicing bushcraft and just focusing on my immediate needs.
There is a book called "Tribe" that talks about US veterans suffering from PTSD because they are living in a tribe while deployed. And in this tribe they are very connected communally and feel real human bonds with the people they serve with. When they come back they feel the loss of connection to people and the world they live in because it is a fake materialist world that doesn't really value people at all.
I haven't read it and just heard about it the other day but it looks interesting.