“Master Sergeant, It’s Time To Put Your Ruck Down.” — Part 3 of 14

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, I wonder if the soul leaves the body as tears.

My life from tortured child to Green Beret, fall to darkness due to pain and PTSD, and healing through vulnerability.

Ego’s Little Boy, Who Hurt You?

Adverse Childhood Experiences Score (ACES).

After attending Save A Warrior, I learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences Scores (ACES). A score of 4 (before the age of 18) leads to a myriad of interconnected physical and mental health issues, including a higher risk of committing suicide during adulthood.

Stuffing feelings and not venting, faking okay-ness and not truth-telling, and stewing and not purging — is terrible for health and wealth.

Aces High and Heartless

Before puberty, I scored a — 9 out of 10 (not by choice and this is not something to be proud about)— and later accumulated more blows as a bullied immigrant, homeless teenager, high school dropout, and social misfit.

To add to the score, I compiled extreme experiences in combat zones as a Green Beret. As a veteran, I caved in due to severe chronic pain, insomnia, pain pills, TBI, & PTSD. As a lost civilian, I was mentally drained while fending off neighborhood thugs and uncouth slugs who preferred drugs.

The Beginning


Although very few abused me, their selfish actions negatively affected how I viewed the entire world. Their viciousness made me feel worthless. Their malice made me feel less blessed.

The physical hits didn’t last very long, but the effects on my soul were multi-prong.

The upsurge of violence with each downward blow — shook me to the core. Why couldn’t I run to the nearest open door? My body was the target, but the blows reverberated and made spiritual holes.

Each hit depressed skin to meet bone.

The punches turned blue and gave me an angry skin tone.

Negatively-charged Connections.

For over 40 years, the indelible and invisible marks of abuse led me to choose associations with victimizers. I was drawn to relationships with the unhealthy…as if shame was an essential element of personality.

The experiences paralyzed me to the point that I felt it was easier to stay in negative relationships than to move on.

And when I advanced, I felt compelled to return…to seek adversity in places where more abusers could take their turn.

The fear-driven choices visibly caused pain on others. And each time I hurt more people, an increased ransom was demanded from my soul.

Anger. Worry. Hurt.

The anger, distrust of others, and hatred of myself defined how I acted towards the world. I was always annoyed but couldn’t pin down why — down to a single word. I could not explain the cause of getting worried. I finally gave up…and lived a life of black and blue — tinged bloody red.

Even when many hurt me, I was always afraid of hurting other people’s feelings. For many years, I could not clarify why for their welfare I would be reeling.

Miss-Treatment (intentional misspelling).

Maltreatment at home, at school, at church, and in the community led me to think that safe shelter was scarce, and that trust should never be surrendered.

Defilement taught me to believe in others and not in myself, to create a facade, and to please. Running away was the easiest solution. So, I fled…from issues, from jobs, and from people.

If people wanted to stay, I created drama to force them on their way.

If others wanted to talk it out, I screamed to release the stuffed feelings at vile speeds out of my mouth.I didn’t know any other way.

Rubber Duck at Sea.

During moments of abuse and bullying, I felt like a rubber duck out at sea.

Mobile, yet nailed to the same spot. Inflated to the point of helpless buoyancy. Comfortably swollen that made ducking beneath rogue waves an impossibility.

So, I absorbed the hits and swallowed the shame. I was inculcated into their bullying…incessantly — so that they could not be blamed.

At an early age, I thought that zero goodness existed in humanity.


I was born and raised in a small agricultural town in southern Philippines during the height of martial law —

an uneasy low point for adults, a terrifying world for young children, an opportune moment for political heavy-handedness, and the apex for rebels and soldiers to test their combat skills.

The overwhelming abundance of violence presented a clear contrast to the economic scarcity. We didn’t have electricity, indoor plumbing, or reliable running water. We stored water in 55-gallon drums. No TV. I listened to an AM radio powered by D Cell batteries.

I have been told that the home where I grew up is still standing. Old and tired but supportively amazing.

I studied under the light of a kerosene lamp, and later a Coleman lamp.I loved how the light from the kerosene lamp danced and moved with the slightest breeze. I felt alive that the excitable flicker — rekindled always — as if to warn darkness to stay quiet, and not bicker.

Although my father was a lawyer who worked for the government and my mother a public health nurse, childhood memories were traumatic and full of pain.

I was uptight that peace would quickly turn into chaos, that calm would highlight cries of anguish.

Piercing words delivered with ear-shattering, high frequency wails shook me to the core. For another family to belong, I would wish for.

I can still feel the reverberations of each scream bouncing deeper into my ear canal, down my throat, past my heart towards the gut — rebounding around the stomach walls, stirring up the stomach acids, and commanding my esophagus to begin the vomiting process.

Madness supplanted love.

Continue to Part 4

Back to Part 2

All Rights Reserved (January 2022).



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