As I sat there I couldn’t stop myself, the guilt washed clear over my mind. It felt like my soul was wearing concrete bricks in the middle of the ocean and down down down we went. I spoke and tried to explain. I gave my point of view and it seemed with every word I said the feeling of guilt and pain grew stronger. Such remorse can only be found in a man that feels a self-conceived failure. So overcome in a gripping moment where it seemed that the once deeply buried traumas were freshly surfaced. Like someone ripped a scab off a healing wound. A deep breath, the cycle slowed, another deep breath and I acted like it never happened. It was just a chink in the armor that needed to be covered up.
I won’t give a lot of specifics to it, I shouldn’t because everyone has their individual burden to bare but I will go as far to assume that we have all at one point or another felt a gap in our defenses. We have all felt asthough there had been a breach in a mental and emotional barriers we create and maintain. Most of the time I will recover and move and try to act as if nothing ever happened, this I feel is the wrong answer. I feel we should engage that chink in the armor. We should pay the most attention there, not just because it shows in public, not because it is a weakness, but because it is the strongest sensation that was able to surface. I figure if it can make my armor crack then it is something worth looking into.
For me its always the guilt, that feeling that I failed my guys. It feels as though I will never forgive myself. Time and time again that is the emotion that surfaces, after long sleepless nights or after drinking a little too much. The first emotion or thought that surfaces is the guilt I feel. I suppose that it surfaces because I always think how great it would to have a beer with them again. From there its just a downward cycle and I always find myself at the point where I feel as though I pulled the trigger myself.
I get embarrassed about those moments. Sadly enough its not always the alcohol that does it. Sometimes its just that the alcohol is a good enough excuse to talk about how I feel. How special is that, I need an excuse to tell people whats going on in my head. The other twisted part is that no matter what others tell me, it just further assures me that it was my fault.
So how do I mend my armor? Suck it up, lol thats not working too well as of now. I think I will try something radically different. I am going to forgive myself. I failed, its a fact in my mind, so the simplest thing I can do is forgive myself and move forward. Rather than trying to hold everything in, I should just dismiss it and let it all go. Its like that old saying, “its harder than holding onto a fistful of sand in a hurricane.” In order to mend the armor I should get rid of it all together. I have tried this before. It was in a rather alcohol fueled rage shortly after returning from Iraq. I started scribbling on a post it note what I was sorry for. About 20 minutes later my walls and door were covered in multi-colored apologies to my many ghosts and demons. I remember sitting there looking up at the 40 some odd notes I had smacked everywhere, that had been scratched out in sharpie marker in a feverish pitch, I realized that this is what it feels like to lose your mind. To go blind to everything but guilt and pain. I sat there took a couple of deep breaths which I thought was a good idea and just let my mind settle. What I thought was letting go was just breathing it all back in again.
I think this place is about the only space I don’t wear the armor. If I can get to a point where my attitude here is the same everywhere I believe I will be much happier and so will my buddies who occasionally see the chink in my armor.