Making it trough a week for some veterans is a task very few acknowledge as an achievement. Every Wednesday that I get to meet up with compatriots and discuss similar issues helps wash away a little of the hurt and loss of PTSD and memory loss and the others profess the same at our meetings. Disabled veterans deal with many of the same issues and can relate to each other with care and support because of this common ground. Many can not see the pain of a lost career, livelihood, memories, functionality, sometimes the abandonment by family and friends, self imposed isolation, no clear thoughts, others accusations or implications, problem denial, divorcement from reality, depression, suicides, medications and the side effects and ultimately loss of the freedom we tirelessly spent years and years defending.
Yes, we did complain about not being in the states for Christmas or missing the birthdays and some of us births of children. We were represented by the empty place setting and chair at the families tables for New Years and Thanksgiving dinners knowing deep down that someday, someday……..someday will not come now. Yes we have our physical freedom back but as for me I loose concentration quicker than I can remember things. writing it down just ends up on the pile of other illegible notes to myself of unintelligible ramblings coherent just moments earlier.
I know I was different, sometimes I can see the results of my past. 4 walls of achievement used to surround me in my office, written by people who mattered telling me I did something that is worthy of ink on paper about what I had done usually with some type of seal attached to make it official. They used to make me feel important and impress onlookers. Now the papers, frames gone to save space, rot boxed on the floor of my garage. Not for shame but because I can’t bring myself to the point of trying to remember the person they were written about. He is a stranger others mention and I have never met.
Then there is the fear of connecting or caring about anything or anybody, because of the fear of more loss. The nightmares that make it impossible to sleep unless heavily medicated or just falling over from exhaustion, as in my case now, without sleep in 2 or more days(lost count). But the military told me I could go home for good and every time I sleep I am back. Being able to serving again with the others sucks me into the lie and once there I relive the hellish pain of memories. Now I am imprisoned inside a locked vault isolating and insulating me from my imagined pain of reality. But the only home I really knew for over twenty years was the comradery of taking care of my guys and they in turn taking care of me.
Caring. We get caring back every week one hour at a time at our art therapy group. Caring about some thing and someone else. Their problems. Because more times then not we share them….and that sharing is what its about.