I know I must,

Travis Knowlton LCSW
3 min readMay 26, 2022

but how do I stay in the middle!?

Joshua fuller-Unsplash

Arriving in the United States after deployment with the marine corps to Helmand province Afghanistan was a very difficult transition.

I was angry, upset, and disappointed in the American citizen. They, either through choice or indoctrination, were blinded to the atrocities of the world around us.

Having all these first world problems; wanting and demanding Clean drinking water to such a degree that the next country with good water might as well be so far away in the standard that they don’t exist. Fighting over equality and liberty instead of conversing and finding that there are more similarities than differences.

But now, with all the shootings and crazy laws that allow people to steal and violate others with no legal repercussions, I find myself in a mindset I have not contemplated.

Americans are seeing and experiencing what the rest of the world sees. For that I am glad, we needed to take off our rose-colored glasses.

But with that comes an unexpected dilemma

The unsuspected fear that has risen is this: we as Americans are not a brassen as we once were. We allow talking heads and corrupt politicians to make us believe we must fight one another. There are people who are not students of history challenging the existence of our constitution, now I know the founding documents were made to have discourse, but I fear we have gone too far.

War, civil for that matter, seems so close I can almost feel it. This provides the challenge in me to not switch to a combat mindset, but I feel as though I must serve and protect, but at the same moment, I must be a productive member of society. For I am a psychotherapist. My passion is to help the members of this society. And yet again the lines of personality become blurred again. I was a corpsman. The overall mission was to help society, but at that moment I was also an instrument of violence if needed.

So what does that mean for society if civil unrest pursues? Do I give into my instinct and switch on the warrior mindset? Do I evade because of my family and fight off that inevitable transition for as long as possible? For I know being permanently peaceful is not an answer.

This pull is ever so present with every turning day.

How do I proceed? I act and display calm, though a storm rages underneath. I portray an emotional affect like the rest, paying attention, and appearing like an oblivious onlooker. But really I am not only ready but willing to fight.

This battle of my mind and spirit leaves me jarred in the middle and the stress is not just of the internal observation but the fight to stay in the middle, as more and more of our society reaches calamity I must fight to keep the demons at bay.

The realization that those very demons are but friends…

-Travis Knowlton

Travis Knowlton LCSW

I'm a husband, father, veteran, and licensed clinical social worker that is here to enjoy and share!