Where are you at?

Simple question, tough answer. Where are you at? Since you have been back or out, where are you at physically, emotionally, mentally? If you are a veteran, odds are you think you are doing pretty good. But are you really?

Consider this, we were taught to embrace the suck, roll with the punches, and to put the left in front of the right and repeat as necessary. So are you really doing ok, or are you just thinking that things are good because you have turned a blind eye to it like you would a hot spot on a road march. I tend to think more of us are doing the latter. I know I have been for a little while now and I am trying to patch it in.

So how can you tell? Couple of simple questions to ask yourself but it requires that you be candid with yourself. Question numero uno, Do I avoid thinking about combat, fallen buds, or anything that reminds me of the sand box? Question 2: Have I been jumpy, have I had any unexplained adrenaline rushes recently that I just dismissed cause its the norm? Question3: Do I feel sad or depressed for no freaking reason and wind up dragging myself up by the boot straps? Question 4: Have I been looking at the bottom of a lot of beer bottles and whiskey tumblers lately? Question 5: How have I been sleeping? Even if you aren’t remembering the nightmares you may still be having restless sleep because of them.

If you answered yes or in a negative way to any of those questions its time to do some rethinking about whats going on inside your skull. A lot of times us vets get too caught up about our own self-image B.S. to effectively sit down and look in the mirror (I am just as guilty as the next guy). We think, “Ohh I got this shit, I am doing fine, I am just drinking with the guys.” In reality you know why you are doing the destructive behavior you know the real reasons for everything you do, but we turn a blind eye and just keep charlie miking (continue mission for you civi’s). Being realistic, being honest, being attentive to all the chaos that is going on in your brain is the only way to be prepared to do something about it. “Complacency Kills” that old saying was bashed into our heads down range, but it didn’t die there. If you let it, life after combat will sneak up behind you and snatch the life out of you in a second. Maintain focus with yourself. Monitor your progress or regression. Be real about where you are at. Be realistic in your goals for coping and managing. Don’t just suck it up, do something about it. Express yourself in words, art, music, punching bag, or work out, you have to purge the darkness to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You aren’t weak, if you were you wouldn’t have made it this far. Never forget this is a temporary problem and is something to be overcome. When you lose faith or footing, look left look right find a buddy and chill in their fox hole until you get your bearings back. Other than that stay motivated and keep giving it hell.

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One response to “Where are you at?

  • Gene Harper

    Wow. This is thought-provoking. I have come off one of the more stressful semesters of my college career. While I take school very seriously, I can almost hear my the guffaws of my fallen Marine brothers as they reassure me that I don’t “honor their memory” by becoming a neurotic stress puppy.

    I had the distinct pleasure of downing a few pints of beer with other servicemen today, and their grace, humility and humanity did not go unnoticed.
    I always tell vets that I meet that coming back to “the world” and re-integrating is a process and not an event. I need to make sure to remind myself of my own annoying nuggets of insight.

    I spent a few hours drifting off, relaxing and self-medicating, and came to the realization that everything I have achieved, every little piece of grace that has befallen me is because of the sacrifices of my fellow veterans. I am doing right by them, but I am not amiss to insure that I “course-correct” and make sure that my mistakes have lessons I internalize, and that my emotional journeys down memory lane provide me with some new insight or germane idea to lift a free hand to help someone else.

    Thanks guys, for your patience with me. I am a slow but steady interest-bearing investment fund that is managed by a neurotic old Marine, but you will get your dividend. I promise.

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