FARTICLE15

Transition.

A year and a half into my military retirement and I feel more lost and without direction than I ever did on active duty.  I still cannot allow myself to be comfortable and at ease in my own home, even though I know that I will not be required to pack up and move again in another year.  I’m still so tuned to the routine of having to PCS every 2-4 years.  I don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want to go and don’t have to go until I decide it is time to go.  I looked so forward to this luxury and now I am having difficulty accepting this freedom now that I have it.  I like this place.  I like being here.  However, I can’t get comfortable with the idea of this being the place where I plan to spend the rest of my life, but I have no idea where I want to be and can’t think of anywhere else to go.  The pisser is that even if I had a place to go in mind, I can’t go anyway because certain obligations prevent me from packing up and moving on.  On top of that, I am so fucking sick of moving that I dread the thought of boxing up all my shit again and having half of my shit broken or stolen by shitbag movers who care nothing about MY shit.

I enlisted right out of high school and have no home to which I can return.  My folks bugged out years ago and anyone I gave a damn about back home is long gone.  Every other place I lived where I would consider living again would be contingent upon me having the same neighbors and friends I did the first time I lived there and those of you who have served know that is a reality that will never repeat once you have moved on.  So here’s me.  Wishing I had what was, not missing the life that led me there, not knowing where to go, and being unwilling to commit to what I have, which is foolish and pigheaded of me because it is actually pretty damn special.

I have a ton of friends here, some of the greatest people I have ever known and the greatest collection of wingmen over a long career.  What is aggravating is that I have no desire to be around them.  I don’t really want to be around anyone.  Hell, I don’t even want to leave my house!  This is strange because I equate my friends to family and I love being with them.  For some reason, no matter how much I crave attention and social interaction, I seem to go out of my way to be alone and avoid getting a life.  Those of you who know me know this is completely out of character and I wish I could understand it, but I don’t and can’t seem to figure out at this moment.

My shrink beat me up about this constantly until she broke the lock on the PTSD vault.  After a year of therapy, she has declared me cleared hot and returned me to unrestricted duty as a functional member of society.  Booted by the shrink…WTF???  Either she is telling the truth and I am perfectly normal, which is unbelievably fucked up and tragic, or she just got sick of my shit and kicked me to the curb.  Who knows?  It is what it is.  She did tell me that considering everything I have experienced, especially in my military to civilian life transition, she’s not only impressed by me being more “functional, stable, and rational” than most average every day citizens, but she commended me for my self control and patience.  WHAT?  DO YOU FUCKING KNOW ME????  Either she needs to be on the drooling couch or I need to get a prescription for medical weed because the paradigms of reality have just been shaken up like an ant farm inside a magic 8-ball!!!

So, let us recap…I am a retired veteran.  I am living in a place where I never lived prior to retirement.  I am not comfortable where I am.  I have every reason to be comfortable here, I just can’t seem to get there.  I can’t get back to where I want to be because it will never again be what it was the first time I was there.  After spending half of my life in uniform, I have no home to which I can return.  I have a good job and the best of friends, neither of which I have the desire to make the best of and would prefer sitting in my living room wondering what’s next than making the most of what is.  My shrink acknowledges that I am fucked up and that damage will always be a part of who I am, but that I have everything I need to get out there and live life and it is on me to make it happen and live it.  I am about to turn 40 and I feel more lost and adrift than at any other point in my life, which seems like bullshit because if I were you reading this, I would tell me to wedge my cranium out of my ass, get to my feet, stand tall, shoulders back, chin high, move forward, quit bitching, and fucking live life.  Seems so damn simple and straight forward, right?  It’s not.

Speaking to fellow vets and retirees, they tell me this is fairly common.  If I could rationalize this fear and identify it’s origin, I would kick this bitch right in the box and monkey stomp it’s guts all over the pavement on my way forward to living my life with a big smile on my face.  But it is proving to be far more complicated as this is turning into the one problem I can’t seem to solve, which is frustrating because I am a narcissistic asshole who prides himself on his capability to overcome any and every challenge.  See?  I just spoke of myself in the third person!  Told you I was a dick.  If I had the answers, I wouldn’t be here sounding off to you.  If any fellow mindfucked war fighters out there who have experienced similar anxiety have any advice or insights, I am all ears.  Hook a brother up!  And for those of you reading this who are unfamiliar with this experience, I envy you.  I am better understanding some of the concerns expressed to me by fellow veterans over the years.  It’s one of those things you can’t truly understand without having lived it, but I am listening harder now than I ever have.

If you know anyone who has experienced serious psychological trauma, be it from military combat experience, cops, fire dogs, a victim of a violent crime, or someone who has lived a non-stop string of eating nothing but shit sandwiches in life and managed to survive, please pay close attention to them.  They may be telling you something without saying it.  The fact that they are telling you without saying anything means they are looking to you as a friend.  Maybe not to solve their problems, but to do the best thing you can do for them.  To listen.  To care.  To be there.  Chances are there is nothing you can do to fix it, but sometimes just being there is all a brother or sister needs to get over the hump until they can figure out how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, take that critical first step, and start moving forward.

And for anyone feeling compelled to respond with “first-world problems” sarcastic remarks, reminding me that I could be the prized goat in Daesh controlled territory and remind me of all those who have it worse than I do….GOT IT.  UNDERSTOOD.  ACKNOWLEDGED ABOVE ALREADY.  This is my blog and my forum to bitch to my heart’s content, so fuck off and go cook Sally Strothers’ fat ass and serve it to starving kids in third world countries if my bullshit ruffles your feathers and you want to save the world.  I may be fucked up, but I am still a practical asshole, so gargle my nuts!

– FLASH

FLASHTAG: NOTSEEINGMYBIGPICTURE

4 Comments

  1. JTN

    Completely understand your dilemma…been there myself. My boat was not only my house on the water, but my controlled environment, silent…unless I was jamming out to Zepplin or DMB, perimeter completely surrounded by water, and with the exception of the weather, 100% under my control. A nice sanctuary is a great thing for those of us who thrived at “controlling” chaos and motivating others to press. No simple answers from me because “suck it up and press” only applies to getting the job done in the moment. This, my brother, is life and there are no simple answers. But, like you said, you have a great group of friends, but they are there when you need them and will understand when you don’t. I’m also a bit skeptical of any person being able to diagnose and treat those of us who have been involved in some wack shit inside windowless vaults. While a generic diagnosis from exposure to traumatic events can be put in a book, effects of years of exposure and involvement in ending human life can not be put into a simplistic list of symptoms and behaviors. There is a reason those of us who did it have the same “traits” even though we may be completely different pre-2002. I won’t tell you to pull your head out of your ass or force yourself to socialize. I will tell you to keep asking questions, digging deep, and moving…even if not always forward. Love you brother!
    JTN

    Reply
  2. Bax

    Brother, I hear you. I don’t feel it and I can’t truly understand it because I’ve not been where you are, but I hear you and I damn sure believe you. I have known others with similar concerns (because we don’t have fears, right?). These aren’t first world problems, these are 1% problems. Just like me being unable to have a conversation without second guessing every word that those closest to me say. I am unable to NOT feel like I’m facing a pending verbal or physical assault, no matter how well intentioned the speaker is. Because after 12 years in secret squirrel police work, 25 total years in uniform, multiple billet fights on multiple continents and three marriages, I know for a fact that you are all out to get me. Everything is a pre attack indicator and I treat people like crap to defend against the impending doom. Brother, call me anytime. I miss you and I love you as a friend, brother and fellow war fighter. We are planning a trip to your state this summer and I am really looking forward to seeing you and the Tango.

    Reply
  3. SLAM

    Yo Bro, was with you in the beginning, and will be with you in the end. It took me by surprise when I got my diagnosis, and then the never ending changing of meds, and sleep studies, and finally an answer. Then therapy, from one to another, and on to another, and like a good intel person I was, I worked the system (shrinks), until one day I couldn’t anymore. I told him, hey man you are about to hear the truth….round two of intense therapy. The crave for attention (not from work, or accolades) from those around you, only hidden in sarcastic comments and passive aggressive tones, phrases, whatever….that won’t end. You have to control that. You will never stop analyzing the world around you. It will never stop, and you will take charge at the very thought of ineptness…that’s what made us who we are. None of it is wrong, and none of it will ever go away. One thing I have learned, is that being a victim, can be changed. Shit aint easy, that much I can say. I am better at psychology at this point, than most shrinks that get paid to do the job. But facts are facts, and people that don’t understand, won’t until you explain it to them. And even then, they still won’t get it. But at least they will start to understand your perspective. The bottom line is simple, never let the demons win. Take your time alone, let the thoughts run their course, but do not let the demons win. Just look Alex in the face when you are feeling down, it will change things. And worst case, you got me. I may not be close, and it may be an expensive call, but you got me any time any where for as long as you need me. Dig your toes into the ground around, and feel the roots begin to form. You are home. It will be ok…just a few more miles of hell to get through, and you are surrounded by people who will carry you as far as needed! You are one of our many brothers, and we need you in this fucked up world.

    -SLAM

    Reply
  4. Father

    Modified from Good Morning Viet Nam.

    Son, you are more in need of a blowjob than any man in Virginia.

    Father.

    Reply

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