06 August 2013

No future but what we make

I cannot say that the future has ever been clearly laid out.  Whatever future I've imagined, the reality is always different when I finally get there.

I've always had one foot stuck where I am and one foot trying to find solid ground on the other side.  When I finally do get that foot planted, the trailing foot comes across just before the chasm I've  been over becomes wider.

I used to tell myself that once I got past this, whatever this it was, things would be better. I knew what I wanted the other side to look like. I had a goal. Get there. Whatever it took, just get tithe next step. Maybe I couldn't see the future as clearly as I liked to believe. My future was still there, shiny and new. I knew I wanted to be there.

Being diagnosed with PTSD didn't change that, at least not at first. A new obstacle to be sure, but I believed at least a little that I'd find a way to overcome it and keep going. I was getting help. Whatever "fixed" was, I was going to be that.

I finished my Associates degree and transferred to UW-Madison. 

My first semester I was overwhelmed. My schedule was too ambitious, I got behind and never quite got caught up. The following summer I did some research, thought about the situation, and in fall came back and did ok.

I don't  know what happened that Christmas. I never felt like I got a chance to catch my breath. That's about all I remember. 

That's when it was 20 years since Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Anniversaries are bad anyway-- this time of year, that day, this week. I'd managed to keep my attention away from Iraq as much as possible.  The comparisons were inescapable. The questions- what if we'd gone into Bagjhdad? We all knew we'd be back, if not us specifically, definitely the US. Now that Iraq was still going and everyone wanted out, what did the first Gulf War mean? So I thought about it, and I remembered, and the PTSD kicked it up a few notches.

Whatever I'd managed to keep inside, it came up to the surface.

Fast forward a bit. I failed almost all if classes the next semester. I couldn't leave my apartment. Bad things. I still thought I could recover from that-- I headed back to the VA and did more therapy and got new meds.

Fast forward again. Last year. I'd managed to hold on through 2011, but since I hadn't submitted my FAFSA for student loans I was running out of money. I exhausted the credit I had, and ended up moving to a cheaper apartment. Again, finding a way to keep going.

I was faking it till I made it. PTSD got worse, and for a few months I didn't enter my hours at work-- and didn't get paid. Money troubles got worse. Paying the rent became a struggle. Eating became a struggle. 

WWIii was happening outside my window. The streets were being torn up, and there was heavy equipment and dust and beeping and dust and noise. I was back in the fucking Desert.

Aug 15 last year, my lease was up. My landlord had been trying to evict me all summer, and I'd managed to stall until my lease was up. I got my stuff moved out, barely.

I tried to get a hotel room. They were all full. I slept in the car that night, and most every night through October. I was homeless.

On Nov 1 I moved into vetshouse
and here I still am.

What I've been wondering lately is how I got here. Ypu see? There's the story but I still don't know. 

It was hard enough keeping myself convinced that I belonged as a student veteran with PTSD.  I could look at other vets who had made it through school, so at least I knew it could be done.

Tell me how many people you know, out in the workforce, that function with PTSD and keep a job. How many of those were student veterans. Most important, how many people in your line of work have been homeless student veterans with 

I'm not a hero for a cause. I just want to do something I love, be good at it, get paid, and not have to live in my car. I try to picture myself working at Google or Facebook or some other company. It's a future that looks foggy on the best days, on the worst I can't see anything.

Every day, I get up and try again.

Some days I make progress.
Some days I don't.

I still get up and I still keep trying.

1 comment:

  1. And you will get there, eventually. You are so strong.


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