My mind is a horrible place. Often, it drifts to memories where I can be found in a convoy dodging mortars and rockets. Or unloading casualties at a mobile hospital. In my mind, time slows down, the whisper of bullets crashing into my vehicle or into a wall near me makes me duck for cover. Yesterday, I was at the library and a noise startled me. I ducked down beside my truck and the librarian saw me. She was on her way to the vehicle when my PTSD kicked in, wordlessly she watched while I scanned the area. These memories and reactions are involuntary. My address may be in the United States, but my mind is still in the sandy reaches of Iraq. Part of me hates it, the other part of me has never felt so alive.
When I came home from Iraq, I could not sleep without the blast of cannon fire, or the resounding explosions of Hellfire missiles. Thankfully, the television noise calms my nerves. When I sleep, I can see tracer fire, the hum of miniguns spits out thousands of tiny messengers of death to unseen enemies. The choom, choom, choom of Ma Duce (.50 caliber heavy machine gun) serenades me to sleep. What is worse than all this, is that I can see my eyes. My eyes are lifeless, but I am still alive. It’s like my soul has been splintered, that the best part of me died in that godforsaken dump. An angry, easily agitated husk came back from the sandbox. The innocence that I once had died a gruesome death there in my own personal hell.
Why am I writing about this tonight? I need to
purge. Sure, I have people that I can talk to, if they have time to talk. I
don’t need to bother them with this. The closer I get to Memorial Day; the
worse it gets. It may get darker on my blog. Please understand, I am not
suicidal. The memories of friends that never made it home haunts me. There are
days when I wish that I hadn’t, because I don’t know if I can honor their
memories. “No one is asking you to!”
Yeah, but they need to be honored by those of us who are left. Otherwise, what
is the point? The politicians of this country will not be satisfied until we
are like everyone else. Nor will they honor the sacrifice by those who gave
their all to protect this great country. They don’t have the guts to go and do
what is necessary, but they are all in for someone else to do the killing and
The generation of people that are behind me and
the millennials will ensure the destruction of America. They are all in on
socialism, if the freebies continue. Do you know what comes after they demolish
the Second Amendment? The order to get on the train. Those that don’t know
their history are bound to repeat it. God help us and keep us.
It’s been a busy day. The boat that I am recovering the seats in is almost complete. Learning upholstery has been a blessing in disguise. I like working on things and repairing it to its original state. The work reminds me of God’s grace that He has shown me. God’s love and mercy lifted me out of the sin-stained gutter that I was in, and cleaned me up. I am thankful that His grace is sufficient.
Last week was a horrible week. Everything seemed to fall apart, and people drove me to the brink of insanity. I have made peace with most, but there are a few that I am still considering walking out of their lives. Unfortunately, there comes a time when you must choose to walk away for your own good. Once upon a time, I would burn the bridge while I was standing on it. It showed that I was serious about my crazy. Now, I just cut ties and move on.
I have been in pain all day and most of last night. Home sounds like the place I should be. Take care.
I am tired of people’s crap. That is all.
Today, in 1999, I was late to my wedding. Per usual, I postponed getting a haircut prior to the big day. Realizing that my neck looked like the jungles of Vietnam, I ran by the barbershop to get my neck shaved. Eventually, I made my way to the church to tie the knot.
October 18, 2011: I’m not enough. The end.
One of my soldiers contacted me today. It has been
many years since I have heard from him, yet we connected right away. The
brotherhood that war creates is unimaginable to most folks. Your friends that
are forged in the fires of combat, are more than friends. They become family.
When no one else has your back, your brothers and sisters from the military do.
“Ride or die.” This small slogan is
the rallying cry that lets you know that regardless of what happens, or what
you may go through, your family is there until the brutal end. They know how
dirty you are, but they don’t care. Because when push came to shove, you have
proven your mettle. In the trials of combat, you not only endured, you thrived.
If I miss anything from my Army days, it is the friends
that I made along the way. We may not hear from each other as much as we would
like, but we are still faithful to each other. There may be minute things that
we disagree on (such as the best tactical formation to use) but we always stand
together. When I think back on my time in the Army, I smile at the remembrance
of my friends. Good times or bad, we had fun. It may have escaped our attention
at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20.
So, here I am. I have arrived early to the writers’ conference. Hot coffee in hand, I take my pick of seats scattered around the room. Dark tendrils of fear pluck at my heart. Once again, I am that frightened kid from South Mississippi that has changed schools and the overwhelming sense that I am alone in the universe invades my mind. I take several deep breathes to calm my nerves. It does nothing to help ease the ungrounded fear that I am feeling at this moment. Words form in my mind trying to find some way to put this fear into being. The old Russ Taff song, “Winds of Change” starts playing in my mind. My fear has nothing to do with the writers’ conference, it is something deeper in my heart that is causing me to feel that I am lost in the inky darkness once again.
The boom, boom, boom of my heart causes my chest to hurt. The rhythm of Bohemian Rhapsody kicks Winds of Change to the curb. “Is it a heart attack or is it just fantasy, stepping on land mines blowing apart reality…” It’s no heart attack, it is nothing but a direct assault on my spiritual man by none other than Satan. Fear does not come from God. This vile emotion is the antithesis of faith. Stress, worry, self-doubt, these emotions are offshoots of fear. “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.” The enemy of my soul would like nothing more than to spread tares among the seed that God has planted in my heart. That is his job. My job as a Christian is to pray, to seek the will of God Almighty for my life. It is my duty to keep my heart and thoughts upon Him.
Yes, I used the word duty to illustrate my sentence. Duty is deeper than a job, career or any other word that can be used to paint a picture. Duty is a commitment; it is a calling. In an address to cadets at West Point, General Douglas MacArthur stated, “Duty, Honor, Country, these three hallowed words should compose who we are.” I am no longer a United States soldier, but I feel as strongly about duty as I have always felt. To be a successful Christian, it requires the same dogged attitude that soldiers exhibit on the battlefield. The commitment to the will of God has to be deeper than just hollow locution. Duty will help us stay on track when nothing else will. If there is no commitment, there is only broken promises and emptiness. There are only empty words that are hurled into the abyss of nothingness. A deeper walk with God only comes from a wholehearted commitment to accept His will for our lives. When we attempt to insert our will, and our desires into the will of God, He will not fight us on it. We can’t serve God and our flesh. At some point, we must choose to sell out to Him.
In October, I will be divorced eight years. During these eight years, I have attempted to date. Each attempt has been an abysmal failure. Anyone that spends a decent amount of time with me, eventually leaves. Maybe it’s my aggressiveness, or the trauma. I don’t know. Perhaps, I expect too much out of people. Everyone has trauma, we all have a past. My past seems to be a constant pain in my side.
Today, I had a friend from my Army days contact
me. We haven’t seen nor heard from each other since 2013. The first question he
asked me was, “Do you have someone making
your life better? Have you remarried?” He was there when my marriage went
into the trash. The ensuing chaos that was the culling of my remains, my friend
was there for that also. After eight years, why does the pain of divorce still
sting? I thought that time was meant to heal all wounds.
While it was great hearing from my buddy, many
bad memories came flooding back. I am not a perfect individual by any means but
thank God I am not what I used to be. Currently, I date a beautiful woman who
has been very good for me. I told him about her. He asked if she knew the real
me. This hit me right in the mouth. The person that I used to be was not a nice
man. I wouldn’t want my daughters to date someone like me (the me from my
past). For once, I was at a loss of words. I don’t want her to know me from
eight years ago.
My Army days are behind me. While I enjoyed serving my country it did not improve my personality. I was a vicious, foul-mouthed, angry chucklehead. That was on good days. The person that my friend remembers does not exist anymore. Thankfully, I am no longer an alcoholic or drug addict. Looking back, I can only wonder about the extent of the damage that I have caused my soldiers by not setting a better example for them to follow.
I suppose it is too late for me to worry about
that. What is done, is done. There are no re-do’s in life. We have one shot to
get it right. In many regards, I am sorry that I didn’t set an example that
would be beneficial to them in life. However, all I can do is try to make sure
that the next time I am in that position I do better than I did the last time.
As far as relationships go, seven years later, I am still alone. Maybe its my
personality….yeah, I will blame it on my personality.