Redeeming a warrior’s heart

After Iraq, and giving up on the idea of returning to religious life, I found myself dating women. Surprisingly, my penis miraculously reappeared. My penis returned, PTL: Praise the Lord! It was a miracle!

With my new miracle better than water turned to wine, I met some incredible women during my post-Iraq life. I dated women who expressed that they liked the “Soldier Boy” in me. I inspired them to find that calming Shirelles song from the ’60s in my new being. I was that soldier boy ready to protect them, win their hearts and secure the victory in them. They saw me as “Soldier Boy” and I saw them as battle buddies. But wait—they’d never experienced war.

The soldier boy didn’t have much competition. What was the competition? A Wall Street guy seeking a one-night stand? There are many of those land sharks in New York City.

“Assume the good,” as the friars would say in the priory. Women gave themselves to me. Yet, I was lost in understanding their bodies. I couldn’t understand their souls or minds. How could I, when I couldn’t figure out my own soul, mind or body?

I wasn’t aware of their pleasures, since I was lost, not knowing my own pleasures as a man readjusting from war. It’s sexy to look at the warrior. Yet, it’s not sexy to accept the war in the warrior’s heart.

I tried so hard to be “Soldier Boy” to the women I dated in the Gotham target-rich environment called New York City.

Epic adventures in dating 

piano with rose on keyboardBefore the war, I’d dated a few former Ford models. I’d truly lived out Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. Women entered my frame with ease. I enjoyed taking women to Nell’s or the Copacabana. I dated an exquisite Bollywood-looking Indian heiress. I dated women from elite schools. I had fun! And many women claimed to have fun.

And yet, the friars and Cecilia had taught me important things. I understood the meaning of unconditional love because of them. I loved Cecilia so much that I could let her go many times. I appreciated the friars for always letting me go with a relaxed distance. I don’t regret loving Cecilia. I don’t think the friars regret loving me.

In Iraq, we soldiers found unconditional love in our mutual agreement in the war zone. We agreed to cover each other at all costs. My dear friend CPT [Captain] Tim Strunk recently reminded me of that sacred agreement. It was like a religious vow or finding lasting joy in the gaze of a treasured woman.

After the war, my stats remained solid. I even dated an heiress to a global grocery store chain. I didn’t meet another Cecilia.

A Tantric patrol into a Soldier’s heart

peacock feather and statue of a womanIn the hipster East Village of New York, I was led to a sage of Eastern self-transcendence. She was a master of Red Tantra. She understood the Kama Sutra! My new teacher of mystical romance was a pioneering tantra teacher from the ’70s and had written a well-known book about tantra. She was able to plant the seed of sensitivity in me during my time of pain.

What did I learn? I could go deeply within without the bunker [see Part 1]. I could safely hide in an integrated physical and emotional passion. I was able to feel my body in tantra with my teacher. Tantra didn’t heal me from Iraq, but it did teach me about the energy flow in my body. This flow nourished the soul. Experiencing this with another person who’s on the same mission of self-discovery, within the act of physical passion, is curative.

Tantra is an organic expression of giving to the one in front of you.

There’s a part of tantra that involves the individual journey of mystical ecstasy. Also, tantra is an organic expression of giving to the one in front of you. The passion you have for the other isn’t the norm in our hyper-thrill and orgasm-obsessive culture.

My teacher led me to understand many things in and out of bed. She encouraged me to experience tantra with other women. This was another tough mission. I’d have to find another woman with an open mind, heart and body. My teacher was my teacher, and I was sent off to find a partner. My teacher told me that it would be harder for me because of my war experience. She was being authentic.

Tantra let me forgive myself for my romantic failures after the war. I was ready, according to my teacher. Basically, she explained that my future partner would have to want to truly bring herself to me—sexually, emotionally and spiritually. I was ready for this reality.

This rare reality in my particular existence.

Being ready meant that I needed to frequently assess myself and any potential lover for authenticity. Authenticity fuels two souls for tantra bonding.

I devoted myself to the responsibility of being present. I needed to find a lover who also valued being present. What a simple, yet hard challenge! My war experience had kept me from being fully present at home.

This article is part of a weekly column exploring spiritual transformation for veterans. To read the previous article in the series, visit LOST CONVOY AT HOME: A veteran’s experience of romantic love [Part 1]»

Mike Kim Veteran: Mike is a psychoanalyst, an Iraq War vet, an ex-friar monk, a war trauma care provider and a doctoral researcher at the Teachers College of Columbia University. Find him on his website Twitter, on Instagram and on Facebook at Warrior Wellness and Lifeworlds.

image 1 Pixabay 2 Pixabay 3 Tantra by Alice Popkorn via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)