Broken, wooden shack
It's been a bit of time since we last spoke, right? It was going well, you would love to see the improvement. I have finally felt like I have a purpose. Can you imagine four years of feeling worthless and then finding purpose?
I was doing so well, but then again, I am here, and you are reading this. If you haven't figured out, I come back to this shack, this corner when something runs afoul. My hands are stuck deep in my brown trench coat. There is no rain, no wind, but I need to hide the stench that I feel seeping from my body. You sit there, by the streetlight, reading your paper. A sad smile appears on your face saying "I'm sorry you're back." You don't want me here, but you're at least happy to know I am still around. When I reach the broken wooden shack door, you watch as I hesitate. I don't want to keep returning to this place, it could be torn down, I wouldn't care!
I wasn't forced to return, I created the issue. Found the path to the shack and I took it willing. I wanted to know more, I needed to know more, I thought I needed. I can hear it, the trapped being on the other side of the broken wooden door. It cries out to me, spewing its' hatred.
"You worthless being! Slice it, end it, become the coward we all know you to be!" I don't want to go in, I was doing so well. I stumbled and it has been like a slow fog rolling into my life and I can't find a way out. I stand with my back against the broken wooden door praying that I can stop the being. It won't leave, it can't leave, it knows one day I will return.
You can't see it, you can't hear it. But you can hear me. I replay memories in my head and you hear the results. You see my body reacting to the fear that is gripping hold of me. You don't know what to say, so you watch me through glass as if I am some form of sad entertainment.
I cried out to an ear that understood. I explained that I was hurting and needed help, for goodness sakes is it so hard to reach out and see if I am okay? In case you were wondering, it seems the answer is yes. I should be used to it, I makes sure others are fine, why should I ever expect someone to do the same for me? The downside about weather changes, people get sick. I was supposed to talk to someone I trusted today. People get sick.
"Just breathe." That's what he says. "Just breathe".
I sometimes wish I did drugs, drank alcohol, did something that would numb this feeling, but I can't! I am to courageous fighting this battle. You will leave the bench, eventually, but I will continue pacing outside this shack surrounded by the creeping fog.
I had a plan
It’s 2314, I’m exhausted. My ears filled with NF’s album; the search.
”next time this happens”
I cursed out a friend Sunday, he didn’t deserve it. I get super hostile once a month. He didn’t make a comment that warranted that reaction.
”maybe we got to comfortable”.
I burned a rope on our friendship bridge. I didn’t mean too. I’m going to lose a friendship, I can see it coming. I tried to let him know he didn’t do anything, it was all me. I promised it wouldn’t happen again.
i made a plan though. I sat there trying hard not to cry while my depression kicked into overdrive. I was ready. I could take a knife from my car, my tattoos could cover the marks.
i had a plan. Why? Because I’m not worth it. What if I do it again? I’d lose whatever I had left. Guys, I had a plan! I self destructed a friendship. Why am I so fracked up! I want to scream. I hate myself. AND HE FORGAVE ME! I don’t deserve it!
so I walked away, turned away from the friends. Put on my headphones and walked it out. I wanted to leave, I wanted to go right then, I’m not worth it.
but God said different…..
its 2323 and I’m listening to NF; Hope. After 11 years a woman I haven’t seen called me out on the street. I took care of her daughter during a terrible divorce. I still had a plan until she told me I was the Angel in her life. I showed the kid life can be okay and I gave them laughter. Mom asks how I’m doing, why say the truth, she is going to die from cancer in 8 month. I don’t have the right to say I feel like i am a rabid dog that needs to be put down.
Its 2330, I got to sleep. I have kids depending on me tomorrow. I don’t have a plan, but I feel i Should.
How is it today?
What's making it worse?
Nothing, it's just worse.
What's it feel like?
Like a giant weight that keeps pulling me down. I don't want to eat, I don't want to do anything. And I don't know why.
So what are you gonna do about it? Gonna keep pretending that it's not there? Keep wallowing in the denial? How did that work out the last dozen times?
Dead in the dust
Have you ever seen a horror or suspenseful movie with dead, headless animals and hoped you never would have to deal with that in real life? Don't worry, I did it for you and let me tell you how you never want to live that life.
So flashback to 2019, one hundred degree (F) Afghanistan. We are sent to do plumbing on a former black op site. Imagine walking through black plastic covered chain-linked fences to teal or slight pink buildings. There was dust and sand EVERYWHERE, dry porcelain toilets with the bowl covered with dry poop; pealing off like old wallpaper. The rooms smelled like asbestos, death, dust and whatever else lives in a building that has been unoccupied for a year or more.
We made it through the main building, which had no power, but when you flicked the phone light on, you could see the horror! Malaria infested mosquitos awaken from a slumber. The feeling of walking into a rainforest, the dampness clinging to the green molded walls. We were checking to see if the water was on, it was, in case you were wondering because a shower head dripping echoed in the empty darkness.
The last building sat in the corner. The windows closed, the door shut a little to tight, a disgusting smell a few feet away resonating from within, baking in the Middle Eastern sun.
We opened the once white door, now stained in sand storm dust, and the retching smell hit us. Dead, headless birds lay scattered across the floor.
Now a normal person would think they died once getting trapped in the building and a cat ate their heads (cats are feral there to control the varmint population). I am not a normal person, I automatically assumed this was a sacrifice, logical response! The best part, the birds weren't decomposing, but clearly have been there for some time. We had to take care of the birds, I blocked how they were disposed, but the smell lingered. Leaving the windows open during the day was allowed, but we had to close them at night. Super hot during the day, freezing cold at night; that would never fix the smell problem.
A month later, the whole project almost completed. We never fixed up the dead bird building, the project manager didn't want it done. It was never touched again once we cleaned it. This job sucked, but watching my leader put his hand down a pipe with dried feces really topped the job site. That is another story of how that came to be!
To tear every weakness from the body, there are no words to describe. What I want to be, I can’t achieve, yet, but slowly I will push the fear from within into power I can’t even imagine.
What sacrifice are you willing to put out to change how you are? Can you handle looking pathetic in the wandering eyes around you? The struggle to hold yourself to a schedule. To give 100%, everyday, don’t quit! I will become stronger, you better fear that.
What can I say, would you even believe it? I can tell you the feeling of holding someone while their last breath leaves their body, but I can't tell you what he felt. I lived a long life, but I can't tell you how to make it through unscathed. I know what it's like to taste danger, but I can't figure out where that part of me went. Did it ever exist? I don't know. Can I ever find my innocent self again? Probably not, but who knows.
It’s the next day, I should be asleep. But how do you sleep when you’re afraid to relax?
I quit a toxic environment for my mental health. Now a month later, I’m back in the same boat, but this time it’s me Vs my mind.
Someone told to take pills, fight off the depression; yeah let’s experiment with chemicals on an already tortured mind, sounds really safe.
No one checks in on me, hey how ya feeling? Would I tell them the truth? Hey I’m sinking into a dark place, slowly, but I’m making it there. You can’t tell people that, they’ll either say you’re being over dramatic or over react and call the squads that haul you away and experiment. Maybe it’s a good thing then no one checks in then.
How do you sleep when your brain says you’re a piece of crap? I mean, I know I’m not, but what if it’s right? What if my life really doesn’t mean anything? Scary thought, I know it’s not true, but right now, I feel like a waste of space.
I see a job I like, nope, don’t have the degree, don’t have the experience, don’t have the courage to even try knowing I won’t get it!
And to top it off, you’re afraid to trust again, because the person you trusted lied! And the worst part, I’m not even angry about that, I’m used to it. But dang it hurts. I hate the pain, Yoda was right. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering; and boy am I suffering.
I wish I had the courage to do drugs, I wish I had the courage to punch the wall till my hands bled, I wish I had the courage to decide how and when, but I don’t.
I let the fear of pain, the fear of jail, the fear of running someone’s life stop me.
And then the comments will say you’re brave, you’re okay, it takes guts to say this. I’m not okay, I struggle every day hoping that my life will come together, hoping I don’t accidentally hurt someone, hoping today will be the day a friend, a real friend texts me and asks “ARE YOU OKAY?”
It won’t happen, so I’ll try and get sleep because I start my day in 6 hours now. To pretend to be happy, to hide The tears, hide the anger. I’ll listen to my music and keeping asking God if he can hear me.
Don’t worry, I’m okay.
"Why did you join?"
"I love my country! I love helping people. I love being able to protect my family and friends."
"But it stresses you out."
"Yeah, because there are idiots that keep getting promoted and don't know how to tell if it's raining, while it's raining!"
"Do you consider yourself a murderer?"
"No, I haven't killed anymore. In fact, I almost got a medal for saving someone's life. I didn't want it, I tried to fight it. It was really nothing. They gave me a ribbon instead. So now I have a bronze oak leaf."
"So you re-enlisted?"
"Yep, I want to make sure soldiers don't have the same crappy leadership I had. I want to make sure they have someone to talk to."
"Yeah, this soldier was scared he was going to be trapped at the bottom of a long hill because of snow. He convinced himself that moving his car was going to be best. I reminded him that our orders were to stay put (I was in charge btw). He was getting himself all worked up because our leadership had not returned. I walked him through the pros and cons and he decided he should move his car. So I walked with him back in the barracks and told him I would watch him drive away, incase he crashed, I wanted to make sure he would be safe and I would be there for him."
"Did he do it? Move is car?"
"He was halfway there when I told him leadership was coming back. I was telling him the whole time to do what he thought was the right thing, but to really think it through. He stopped, calmed down, and smiled seeing the vehicles approaching. Then he realized the roads were not that bad. He realized that the decision he was about to make was wrong and thanked me for talking it out with him. I smiled as he walked back into barracks."
"You were going to let him do something potentially bad, against orders?"
"Yes. He is an adult. Sometimes people just need to talk stuff out or just start what they think is correct. I hate micromanage. He just needed to work it out in his head."
"What stuff happened to you earlier in your career?"
"I almost had an NCO sexual assault me, but I got out of the situation. Since he didn't touch me and he was drunk, I didn't report it...some regret, but I was new. I had an NCO tell me God wanted my friend to kill himself. I had another one almost drive to suicide after he harassed me all weekend and called me a liar. I learned how not to lead people, I have seen and experienced what happens with toxic leadership. I refuse to be that!"
"So what now?"
"Now? I shoot for twenty years. I get in better shape. I make sure I help those above me and become the example for those below me. Now, I learn everyday to become better."
"Thank you for your sacrifice."
"You're welcome, thanks for the support"
Welcome back old friend. I honestly didn't miss you and wish you would fade again. But as I sit here, I can feel your devilish desire creep into my mind.
I know you felt my stress, heard my longing to chase my dream. The dream that, let's be real, will always stay a dream. I picked the course of life I am on and acting/directing will stay a dream. But the longing to do that dream pulls me down every day. Gosh I would give a week off work to be in an acting gig. I would love to learn to direct, but my commitments at home....
I haven't missed your dark words. Old friend please haunt the dead, leave me alone. 'Would I be better off dead' you ask? Maybe, but there are roles and people that depend on me. It's selfish to do it, so I don't, but the urge today scares me. You won't win, I pray you won't win. It's just stress, so much stress I want to explode. I don't eat, I don't talk about it. What do you say? 'Hey! I am having dark thoughts, are you able to hear about it?' No, can't do that. Everyone has stress right now.
So friend, I'll just right, hold my scream in, bite the tongue, clench my fist and mentally punch the wall. Think about texting friends, but not actually do it. Put on a happy face when the parents come by. Then back to work, I love it, I swear, I just...I just want to work outside on a ranch sometimes. I want to work out my issues, give my mind a break.
Old friend I am wearing a uniform not a lot wear, I bear a rank that gave me hope I could train others. I am not a coward in this uniform, but I could be considered one since I can't pull the trigger myself and I can't ask another to do it.
Please old friend, go back to the shadow where I left you, purposely. Go back to the cold corner of my soul. Stop trying to drag me into the hole with no way out, I promise my grip on the side will hold me longer, then your grip on my mind.