Returning to America alone from war in Kandahar, Afghanistan and Iraq found me home without a house and family welcoming me home. Six months remaining in the military. throughout the days and nights, I became resentful of everyone I had worked for. Angry for failing to take care of my family, both accepting responsibility yet blaming others, I became furious at my ex-wife for choosing to leave and putting me in a position I would have to decide on the mission or my family. Angry at her because our marriage fell apart anyway. Finally, she took my son with her.
Choosing to get away, I spent my days and nights purposely avoiding work, riding my motorcycle for up to 12-16 hours. I didn’t care, no one else cared. Riding along the gulf coast of Florida, I found relief. This is where I reflected on the past, tried to comprehend the present moment and slowly feared the future. My situation had me choosing to walk away from my career (End of contract) as a warrior. A trade I pursued since childhood. Losing an income, no job, overwhelming debt, loss of a failed marriage, losing my son (separation). Everything collided to form an overwhelming onslaught of memories from abroad.
One night stoned out of my mind, while on my motorcycle alone, my brain exploded overcome with emotions I had never experienced before. Fear, loss, sadness, rage, resentment, all focused distractions. I became blindsided with a burst of ideas and solutions for war. Fighting on the ground revealed things I had never trained with or seen before. What am I supposed to do with these lessons learned? What about my men and the teams? Al Qaeda, China and others? My men will return to battle without me. With all of that combined, I had a new overwhelming sense of purpose and intense responsibility to solve tactical and strategic problems.
When I returned from war, I met the new Jojo. By accident, unexpectedly, at 16, the new Jojo grew and matured while I was away to welcome me home. To be brief, over those six months we rode together everyday and night. All of these conflicts combined with my past and the near inappropriate choices with Jojo. All of it made me furious. Perhaps compensating for my losses, Jojo kept me afloat preserving my sanity. Together, Jojo and I spent every day and night riding alone. Overtime, I found myself wanting more of her. I simply wanted Jojo. Being married, yet in a failed marriage, I fought against the intense desire to grow intimate with Jojo. Everything combined with falling in love with this 16-year-old girl. Those emotions fueled and slammed shame and despair I had never witnessed before down my throat. A further conflict that would nearly destroy me.
Over time, throughout my remaining days in the military, my situation snow balled growing in strength. It was the overwhelming strain of choices mixed with powerful images of behaviors and choices from the past. Combined with fear of the future. To make matters worse, I chose to hide this condition known as combat mental illness or Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). At that time, and still is today, mental illness of any kind was and is unacceptable within the military special operations community. Instead of reaching out for help, in silence I chose to treat my own wounds and abuse Dextromethrophane. At first this choice worked, yet soon enough, that poor decision blew up in my face making everything terribly worse. Ultimately the drug complicated the issues eventually making me fear for the safety of my son and his future. In the end, I became ferociously paranoid. At one point nearly crossing the line of no return where I had thoughts of sucking on the business end of a Mossberg (Shotgun).
We were becoming threatened as a family where we would lose everything we had built with blood, sweat and tears. Right in front of my own eyes, my life tore apart like an aircraft breaking in pieces in the sky and imploded. With the past pulling me and pushing me forward, sources of new conflict became the choices. At that time, I wasn’t ready to decide on my fate or my son’s future. Choosing to stay with my brothers (Warriors) or return to my family and my son tore me apart. Mix that with choices to walk away from my son’s mother flowing with the piercing desires for Jojo. All these oncoming decisions were far worse combined than real combat. The situation was too much. My reality of failure approached like a hurricane.
Nearly losing my mind going insane, on that Harley more than once I almost crashed. As my mind raised in activity, the mixture of drugs combined with the anxieties of the moment. My mind spun out solutions colliding with memories of the past heading straight into fears of the future. As my body temperature spiked above 100 degrees, sweat covered my body. Shifting gears from second to third pushing past fifty into sixty, I started to choke and bark out pleas for help. Slamming the gear again to fourth and fifth I cried like a child.
On the Pensacola National Seashore, dominating the bending and winding turns of old Highway 98, the bike and I paralleled the Gulf of Mexico. With a bright moon held high in the dark sky, the salt water tears flooded my face covering and stinging my eyes. The speedometer pushing past sixty into seventy, I became colder now where my ears popped.. Thoughts of Little Man and Jojo came crashing in. Mentally, I grabbed their hands (Handle bars) and hit the final gear pushing the bike past seventy shooting into ninety. My mind was so clouded with racing thoughts, I let go and merely held on for the ride. The bike had it from here. No longer did I care about the past. I saw it. I could see what my purpose was and made a choice to go after it.
Stoned out of my mind, repeatedly I went well over 100 mph. The wind pressing against my chest (No wind screen) and forcing my face to peel back, I could feel my entire body pull back off the bike. Everything (Choices + Experiences + fear of the future) backfired on me bringing the past with the overwhelming conflicts to overcome me. Accelerated further, the bike and I disappeared alone into the night. How can I be lost, if I got no place to go. How can I blame you when it’s me I can’t forgive?
- New Treatments Improve PTSD Prognosis (everydayhealth.com)
- When a Loved One Has PTSD (everydayhealth.com)
- What I want (preparetocrossover.com)
- A letter to PTSD (beingelle.wordpress.com)
- What is Trauma? (my.psychologytoday.com)
- Veterans Affairs breaks promise to veteran who went on hunger strike last fall (homecomingvets.wordpress.com)
- PTSD and Suicide Risk (everydayhealth.com)
- Using Mentoring Programs to Combat PTSD in Veterans (drvitelli.typepad.com)