The past couple of months, I have seen a lot of improvement in myself. I have calmed the drinking down, cooled the rage, focused the excess energy into more productive things. I have smiled a lot more and laughed more than I can remember in these past months than in a long time. We lost another brother recently and the unit is dealing with it. The old support system jumped up phone calls and facebook messages everybody piecing the story together and checking in on each other. I am beginning to fully believe that that unit is cursed, like death realized it missed us when we passed through Iraq and its making up for lost time. With all that though, we will work through it and add another brother watching over us.
With all the progress that I have made and the happiness I have found, I still have one panging annoyance. Its buried deep in my pride in having served in the military. Many of my friends are overseas. Guys I swore silent oaths to, to protect them even if it meant my life. I now have to sit and read their Facebook statuses or catch and email every once in a while from them. Instead of being there to cover their six or do that really dumb thing that no body else wants to do. I hate riding the bleachers. I feel like I went from being part of the team to being a guy in the audience and it bugs me.
I know I miss the adrenaline and the fight. I miss the sense of purpose. I miss that sense of importance, danger, and fear, all wrapped up in a gritty sandy extreme condition. War is not glorious but for some reason I have placed surviving in it on a pedestal. Something that I look back on and for some reason wish to feel again. I miss feeling like a hardened soldier not a soft college kid. I guess this is what it feels like for those guys that played high school football and long for their glory days. I wonder if its that pathetic. But I doubt very much that those guys felt the greatest reason to go back was to try and protect others or at least to share in the suck of it all.
I was good at combat. I was a really crappy garrison soldier. I had an attitude problem and if I decided I was smarter than you or knew how to do something better than you I dismissed you. One of the big wigs I watched over quoted heartbreak ridge to me saying, ” Wildman we should keep you behind glass that reads break in case of war.” I have felt that I was missing out on some of the purpose I was meant to do. My time in combat even though it was 2 years ago seems like a lifetime away or movie I saw. I see the guys still fighting going back for their 3rd and 4th go round, I feel like I didn’t do enough or shoulder my burden. I hate that I broke down. If I would have just faced the demons instead of ignoring them I could have held my ground. I gave into them and gave up on myself. Climbing steadily out of the hole I dug I now feel as though I not only let myself down, but the guys, the unit, the uniform. I feel like I some how marred the honor it was to serve with the best men and women I have ever known by letting the stress break me. If I knew then what I know now, it would have been and infinitely different story.
Through force of will alone will there be a cure for what ails me. Its fear, thats what it really comes down to. Not so much fear for yourself but fear of making a mistake. Fear of the enemy catching off guard. Fear of losing friends… brothers. Fear of their pain being your fault. Its all fear just shrouded in something else. I think thats what makes it so hard to shutdown is because it is dressed like something else. Like the enemy we fought it doesn’t wear a uniform or play by the rules. I will probably always kick myself for faltering. I was built tougher than that and even if I was crazy there had to have been a way to work through it. Probably my only regret other than not spotting a couple of ied’s and a suicide bomber.
To the guys and gals still in the suck, thank you. Keep your heads down and don’t be afraid to do that dumb thing, if its dumb enough usually the enemy will be so astonished they will forget to shoot at you. To the guys on the sidelines, thanks for what you did and what you do now. Sorry about the rambling. If we invade another country you can bet I am coming back into the game, always wanted to see North Korea this time of year.