War is nothing like you see in popular movies such as “We Were Soldiers” or “Jarhead”, it isn’t something that will ever be accurately portrayed in some Hollywood movie with actors or actresses who have never seen the terror in another man’s eyes just before taking his life. I have been home from war since April 20, 2004, just over 6 years ago, however it feels like no more than a week ago at times. A Soldier may leave the warzone, but the effects that the warzone has on us will remain until our dying day.
I was killed in Afghanistan, and I say that not physically, but emotionally. There are no survivors in war, merely people who made it out with what is left of their lives. Those of us who are considered “lucky” enough to come home to our families, do not fully come home, as our lives have been left on the front lines of a war zone thousands of miles away never to be heard from again.
I remember happiness, but that was long ago, before I decided to give my life for the people of our country. I wish I could be the same person that I once was, at times I even regret being in the Military, I regret giving all I had, and all that I ever will. Then I think about all of the people that were saved because of the men and women who took the very same oath that I took, then I understand why I died. I lost my happiness so that so many more could have theirs.
I was married once to a woman who, at the time was “perfect”, and then I really got to understand what it meant to be a husband. I put all that I had into my job, as it was the most important thing in my life. I was so happy to be part of a family that I completely forgot about my own. Before I left, everything in my life was perfect, I was happy and wanted nothing more in my life.
After returning home from my deployment, I wasn’t the same person as when I had left. I no longer knew who I was, and I had forgotten what it felt like to be “happy”. I couldn’t help how I felt, I didn’t feel comfortable at home, and I wanted to be alone as much as possible, but I didn’t really feel safe when I was alone. It really didn’t make sense to me, but then again at that point things rarely did.
That relationship ended because of me, and my inability to “return” to the person that I had been before, or maybe because I had still not returned from the place where I had left my emotions. I had a couple relationships after that one, however nothing that I am proud to talk about as I lost one of my very best friends in the process, and one mistake that if I had been my “old self” would never have happened. However, I also lost a person with whom I had considered my “brother”, as he had been the one who I could always count on to be there for me no matter what.
I walked out on him when I left for the Army, and things have never been the same sense. That is one of my biggest regrets from the military. I lost another “brother” due to the military. After losing everybody that I had known previous to the Army, I thought that maybe I could find people who did not know me before my untimely death. Maybe, if somebody didn’t know how much I had changed, than they would not know that I had changed so dramatically.
When you do something that is considered “wrong” by people, you automatically feel as if everybody that you walk past, or that speaks to you knows what you have done. That is exactly how I feel when I meet new people, it feels as if I am being judged on the things that I have done. It makes it very difficult for me to meet new people without thinking that I am being judged. I no longer feel comfortable being around new people unless I have somebody with me that I am comfortable with, and that I feel “safe” with. I need the extra support that I am not being “judged” for what I have done, or that it is a good person, with whom I do not need watch my back.
Going to war, you know who you can trust but you never know who you cannot, so you don’t. I live that way to this day, not by choice but because I feel safe. It isn’t something that I am proud of, nor is it something that I would advise anybody else, but I can’t help it. I would give anything to be normal, and actually be able to keep a family, but I don’t really see it as happening as my life was taken from me in a country so very far away.
I know that I will never heal from the wounds that I have suffered, and I know that I am not the only one who feels as I do, however that doesn’t make it feel any better. Not being able to go out with your wife because you’re afraid of being surrounded by people, or pacing the floor anytime that your wife leaves the house afraid that something will happen to her, it’s not conducive to a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship is not something that I am accustomed to, nor do I foresee ever having one with the wounds that I have sustained and am unable to control.
My life, it’s just that, mine. It isn’t great; in fact it’s hell everyday that I live. Living with the pain of the things that I have seen, and done, knowing that I will never be the man, the husband, or the daddy that I had always planned on being. I do not regret dying for my country, but I do regret living to tell about it.
I conclude this with a line from a song that means a lot to me;
“Next time you think you’ve had a bad day, Go shake a Veteran’s hand”
I have to ask…what does a Veteran do when we’ve had a bad day?