If you were sitting on the edge of the bed of your son or daughter the night before they left home for good, what advice would you give them as they face “Day One” on their own?  That is the “Edge of the Bed Question”.  We’ve posed it to as many people as we can, and share their insights here.

Chris’ Edge of the Bed Advice:

“There is wisdom in your wounds.”

Today’s contributor moved from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the fashion world of New York. Here are the moving words of Chris Vongsawat.

It’s the Lows, Not the Highs

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very painful and traumatizing moment in my life was a step forward. It’s an unfortunate truth, but it’s the lows, not the highs, that allowed me to see and appreciate the beauty, glory, and majesty of the world and the people around me.

It’s the lows, not the highs, that allowed me to see and appreciate the beauty, glory, and majesty of the world and the people around me.

When bad things happen, when things get tough, consider this–the wisest, most compassionate, and amazing people I have ever known have all suffered deeply. They have been gifted with a terrible vision that they did not ask for, but it was thrust upon them by existence. And while it would be nice to reach old age surrounded by a constant, unwavering love and boundless joy, I doubt you can experience the deepest reaches of what it means to be a human being without a touch of darkness in your soul. That weight–that heaviness of having seen and experienced things we wish we did not–is precisely what allows us to see the burden and turmoil of others. It is the foundation of an exceptional compassion, wisdom, and maturity.

The Steady in the Storm

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ot everyone who suffers attains these qualities. For many, the PTSD of things is too overwhelming, a shroud that forever conceals the wounded from the world. But there are those who come to see the power of their wounds in time (it will always take time).

It took me at least a decade to see the advantages of having grown up with a schizophrenic mother, of having been molested as a child, of growing up poor, bullied, and often powerless, of struggling with suicidal feelings. It took time for me to see the benefits of having to rebuild my life after serving with the Army in Afghanistan, coming home to friends who were distant, and deal with the soul-shattering heartbreak of a woman who I loved deeply tell me that she didn’t love me anymore. And those I know who have survived cancer, rape, addiction, and violence, who have spent sufficient time with their loss and grief and transformed their powerlessness into power, I can see the hard-won dimensions of their character that sets them apart; the few from the many, the steady in the storm. The way a survivor listens, cares, understands, goes deep and works to help, is unique. They are gifts in our universe.

I can see the hard-won dimensions of their character that sets them apart; the few from the many, the steady in the storm.

The Difference Between Chaos and Clarity

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y advice?

Hardship is terrible, but it is not ONLY terrible. Remember that.

There is power in your pain. There is wisdom in your wounds. There is love in your loss. Allow these opaque truths to slowly reveal themselves to you; they are gifts to yourself and others.

And if the sorrow is too deep, your condition too demanding and intense for any semblance of hope, do what you can to get through the day, and as soon as possible surround yourself with people who get it, who’ve been there, and who know how to lean in when they listen.

Community is the difference between chaos and clarity. Find it, build it, nurture it.

To see more of Chris’ work, visit his website.

There is power in your pain. There is wisdom in your wounds. There is love in your loss. Allow these opaque truths to slowly reveal themselves to you; they are gifts to yourself and others.

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