12 April 2011

Sometimes, I just have to write it all out

I should be studying. I'm not. I'm at work, where it's quiet right now and I have
time to study, but I'm writing. I have a midterm tomorrow morning, and I really
really need to be studying. Instead I'm writing. I've been looking for the
answers for a long time now. There have been some really messed up things that
have happened to me, and others that I was a part of. Maybe there is a difference
between them. If there is I can't see it. It's just a big collection of some big
things, some little things, and a lot of consequences. I'm scared. I thought I'd
be over all of this by now. I'm not.

I don't so much see flashbacks anymore, as I feel feelings. The vision gets
cloudy and blurry over time, your mind loses a few bits here and there, and then
it tries to fill in the missing bits. So your war stories, they change as time
goes by. And, at night, when the apartment is quiet and the street outside is
empty, your mind tries to make sense of it all. It's called dreaming, sometimes
it's nightmares. If I wake up feeling completely out of sorts, where I can't
tell my ass from up or down, where I wonder "Hey, how did I get here all of a
sudden?", I call that a nightmare. They're not all horrific. Sometimes they're
just effin' strange, more strange than a dream should be. If it's my brain trying
to process events that happened while I was awake, I start to wonder what the
hell I'm thinking about all day.

It's a battle now. Maybe it always was, but it really feels like a battle now,
between me and the past. I've gone farther than I ever have, and I'm out on the
frontier now. I dropped the map and compass and GPS a long time ago. Now it's
moving forward, sometimes slowly and sometimes not at all. I refuse to go
backward. I'm trying to reprogram how my brain responds to threats and unwanted
memories. Medication, meditation, therapy. Trying to balance sleep and school
and work and meds and relationships and friends. I fight these things every day.
Some days I win. Some days I don't.

Some days, it's all just really frustrating. Okay, every day.

I had an uncle who served in Vietnam. One summer he was goofing off at a
tailgate party. The next year I was sitting in the bone marrow unit of a cancer
ward next to his bed. He never talked about Vietnam, and neither did my family.
I don't know where he served, or what he did, or what happened. I knew he'd been
in the Army at some point, and didn't find out he'd even been to Vietnam until I
saw him wearing a POW/MIA t-shirt at the tailgate party. Honors and respect were
given when he passed on; he'd been a member of the VFW, which I hadn't known about either. They took care of the honors.

I lost a friend, a Marine,  not long after I'd ETS'd and moved to another state to resume college. If there's such a thing as a look that Vets have, he had it. OD green field jacket, long hair, smoked, probably drank a little too much now
and then. He laughed a lot, had a wife and young daughter, and a house to call
home. We were in the same major, and he worked in the campus computing center
while I worked in the CS labs. We were good friends. He didn't talk about
Vietnam either. He did have a stroke; he was around my age now, so it was pretty
young to have a stroke. I spent a lot of time with him in the intensive care
unit when he was in the hospital. He eventually did go home; he had a beard that
was growing longer by the day, because his arms didn't work well enough for him
to shave. He passed on not too long after that. I got an email from his wife that he'd passed on, and her thanks, but she didn't give any funeral information.

As a VFW chaplain, I was once called to replace an active duty Army chaplain; a
soldier who had been killed in Iraq was being moved to another location in
the cemetery. This time, she was buried in a special part of the cemetery, one
that was only available to Veterans. I still remember that day; the Soldiers, the Vets,the Patriot Guard Riders, and the family. I haven't been able to visit her grave site. I've wanted to, but I haven't. I'm not sure why. Maybe I can't, but someday I will.

I (thankfully) didn't lose any of my comrades in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I
know where some of them are, know where to call to find them. I haven't talked
to them about the Desert, so I don't know if any of them are having any issues
that compare to mine. Maybe some of them are. Maybe not.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this. I'm just writing, getting it out,
facing it and dealing with it. I think. Conclusions can be hard to find. I need some water, need to take a break from writing now. Take my meds. I'll be the only one
here at midnight, and I'll have an hour of real peace. Listen to some quiet music, finish up the work stuff, and try to relax a little. It's hard to do at work, really- the phone can ring, which will make me jump, and it will take me a while to get back to being somewhat relaxed. Maybe I won't get relaxed before it's time to go home. I'll try, though. I always have "I'll try."

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