Look in the Mirror?

So what happened after 23 years of “sucking it up”, more aptly put as suffering in silence, but the other way just sounds more manly and warrior like, that made me seek help. Simply put I wanted the life I always dreamed of, and was tired of self sabotaging every good thing that had ever happened to me, yet always managed to find a way to blame some one or some thing else for it. That and a good swift, well intended, kick in the ass from my wife.
At the time I had a two year old and number two was due any moment. I had been in one spot, holding down the same job(s), and with the same woman for longer then I ever had since leaving the Corps. I was a husband, a father (of almost two), living in a nice home in suburbia, teaching at a private school, and being a cop in my “spare” time. On the outside I was the warrior I had once been, tough, no nonsense kind of guy. My students knew where the line in the sand was and they never dared cross it. I always walked tall and loved the fact that I was a Marine, a combat veteran, a purple heart recipient. At home I was like superman (without the tights and cape, I do have some pride left) I could do it all, King of the Castle on speed. I was always revved up, even though I was easily consuming large quantities of alcohol every night, each night needing a bit more to mellow me out. 
There was no where for me to hide anymore. No where for me to just crumble and become a puddle on the floor. I often yearned to be alone, to have no responsibilities, no wife, no child(ren), so I could go live in the world that Thoreau used to so eloquently describe; just me in the woods living on my own terms. So with the picture “perfect” life being ever so present for my facade, it became even more difficult to to admit that on the inside I was slowly dying. The best way I could manage to describe when I finally went to see my doctor was that I felt I was living a lie. That on the outside I was living the American dream, and on the inside I was living a nightmare.
Soon it was inevitable the the two “lives” would collide. I was frantic, I was dealing with hormone driven teenagers at school all day, and then came home to the “why” stage of a two year old. All well preparing for parenthood take two! The crying, the high pitched shrills and shrieks of one child was driving me to the brink, now I was facing number two and was not sure my insides could handle it. To me the crying and high pitch sounds were not the sounds of the child(ren) that I loved, but of the injured and dying that were calling out some 23 years ago. Early on with my first child, she was sleeping in bed with us, I was having a nightmare (more on those later) and managed to fall out of bed. The noise woke my wife and scared my little daughter who began to cry; I was still in my nightmare/flashback mode and the crying was piercing every fiber of my being, I started to yell at my daughter to shut-up (though not really at her per se but at the sound in my head) which prompted my wife to become upset, and there I am the “warrior” standing in my sweat soaked shirt and boxers screaming into the darkness at the two most precious people in my life; it was time to look in the mirror and ask the question, is this who I want to be? With the answer being “NO” I set out on the journey to figure out why I felt crazy. Was I really crazy? Why after so many years could I still be living the nightmares of bombings, bodies, beatings, snipers, artillery? Was I weaker than those I served with? Was I not the warrior I so proudly held myself out to be? Was I not “man” enough to have the life I always dreamed of having? How could I have been man enough to do all the things I had done, to survive, to come home and not be able to handle the “easy” life? These and many more questions plagued the reflection looking back at me that morning. I was tired of being tired. the energy I put into this dual existence of maintaining a beautiful facade, as the interior continued to crumble had exhausted me. It was time to put my energy and effort into defeating this thing within me, before it defeated me.
In short it was time to be the proud warrior I once was, and still professed to be. It was time to be honest. And don’t we know the truth can hurt.
For those that made it to the end of this ramble session, thank you for you time. For those facing circumstances and questions I described above and think I can help, reach out, I will. It is a long journey, but one well worth taking, especially with other warriors walking beside you.

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One comment on “Look in the Mirror?

  1. Debbie Reply

    Your story woke me to the reality of what soldiers are going through . I can not thank you enough for truly sharing your experience . I am happy you found your calling and so proud of you for doing what you do .

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