“Master Sergeant, It’s Time To Put Your Ruck Down.” — Part 7 of 14
My life from tortured child to Green Beret, fall to darkness due to pain and PTSD, and healing through vulnerability.
Sores Keep Scores
At around 9 years of age, I was afflicted with silver dollar-sized sores all over my arms and legs. My mind had finally mastered how to manifest internal turmoil into observable external markings.
I was so ashamed. The round crusts were unsightly and painful. During the day, I shooed flies away. And in a way, I was symbolically pushing others to turn away.
At times, the crusts would dry and stick to my clothes. Undressing at the end of the day.
I sensed that kids did not want to play with me, and adults did not want to get near me.
I realized that by getting sick or by getting an affliction, I felt more shame…but in a sickly comforting way, the unsightliness kept physical beatings at bay.
When I became a teenager, I started getting acne. I could no longer cover up the frustrations on my face, and how inside I felt so badly.
It is very true that the body keeps the score. Frustrations and heartache pour out of every poorly-drained pore.
Mobile, Angry Teen.
The negative experience during my formative years would shape teenage defiant behavior — truancy, drinking, drugs, fights and bail.
Later, I learned to cultivate sorrow into pre-emptive strikes. I refined those feelings into a binary view of the world — but the more I did it, I increased self-dislike.
Am I Right On The Dot?
When I was 16, I left school with three other students to get drunk. When I became drunk, the bullies tattooed a green dot on my forehead.
I was helpless. They were laughing.
What’s another unsightly dot? Did my mother ever notice the dot?
Did she look away because she could protect me not? In reality, the indelible mark hurt me to the core. My value for self, descended ever more. Most of the time, I rationalize that I turned that teenage fey it into a Green Beret.
The green dot is still on my forehead today.
But truthfully, I cannot bear to bare with a stare…a slight glimpse of that small dot in the mirror whatever the day. Lasers can erase the dot. But am I now too attached? Maybe no, maybe not.
Medical Retirement. The Beginning of the End?
When I finally became a soldier and later, a Green Beret, I was relieved that no one could ever hurt me. So, for 21 years I worked diligently to become the best soldier that I could be……to become an invulnerable me.
Unceremoniously, however, I was medically retired due to injuries. My visions and hopes — fed and stoked by fear since childhood — of perpetual heroic endings was not to be.
The symbolic armor that soothed the scared self was heartlessly — and surgically — plucked away. Injuries and extreme pain exposed the unacknowledged ego that influenced negative cell activity within me.
“You won’t get hired for a federal job if diagnosed with PTSD.”
~ Department of Navy Psychiatrist on loan to the US Army. His hair was gray. That’s the very best, I will say.
I took the professional hint and soothed my ego. The decision to pretend delayed healing, as soon as the Army shoved me out the door — and said, “Away with you. Go!”
My wife and children understood my choice to fake it.
But they reached a point where they could no longer take it.
Perfect Storms After Medical Retirement
We bought our first-ever house before leaving the Army.
As if we were sucked into a perfect eastern hurricane, during the same period when I lost my military purpose I began a 5 year and 10-month ordeal against drug dealers and career criminals.
The thugs on drugs threatened the community and antagonized my family.
The criminals’ darkened souls sought to envelope us with hate, venom, and odium. Patsies perplexed that a Soldier stood for sanctity of community, for lasting peace, and for amity
Within 6 Months.
Half a year within moving into our retirement home, the thugs who chose drugs over hugs~~~slithered to my door ~~~posturing, threatening, and incoherently babbling. They claimed to know that I turned them in. They declared to have friends at government as early warning — so in their secured space they can continue to sell and do drugs — from dusk till morning.
After a few of them were arrested (one for murder), they threatened me.
Then, the police compromised my reporting (twice!).
Within 9 Months.
Less than a year of moving in, we searched for another home in a neighborhood far away…where darkness could not productively stay. Sadly, the recency of the home purchase and the lack of employment opportunities made relocating a financial impossibility.
Our happy dreams of an uneventful retirement turned into a daily frown.
Away from the problem I wanted to step. But for unforeseen risks and danger we had to prep. The criminal threats became more pronounced. When they slithered every step on the ground, a polluted sea of air-filled heads comically bounced.
Sloppily strutting down the block, malnourished necks proudly lengthened and strained. All the while unaware of muted neighborly disdain. Their visible stench quietly wafted ahead — as if hell-sent — voiceless advertising of their malodorous intent. They laughed at kindness and mocked meekness. They valued violence and modeled meanness.
No one batted an eye that when I traveled, my wife and kids slept in the living room.
No one cared that we slept with baseball bats — just in case undisciplined shadows barged in to bring doom.
I don’t know why I was worried. The criminals reached muscle failure — at the thought of cleaning their yard unhurried.
During that period, it seemed as if I was in an endless plunge. Affected by the sloshing tramp of creatures with the physical hardness of a used kitchen sponge.
Sleepless nights, steroid injections, debilitating back pain, intense hip pain, countless 911 calls to report drug dealers, court cases, sweaty and clammy from anxiety attacks, and late night inspections of every window, door and lock.
Seeing my family live in fear — of the drug dealers and of my reaction to the criminal threats — drove me close to incessant worry — that I learned to endear.
When out to eat, we always looked over our shoulders and over our backs — to check if darkness left its cave full of candies called heroin and crack.
When we drove around that forsaken town, our heads stayed on a swivel — to stamp out shadow’s threats to do evil.
Their senseless actions were transparent and raunchy. Un-formed bodies trying to appear fully-bloomed, culturally-contrived, and haughtily naughty.
Every time we turned onto our road, our hearts sank. We cringed our noses at the dripping dank. They huddled immobile like big-eyed toads. They puffed up their bodies at innocent life walking on the road.
Each week they looked different as if to spawn. Their souls for another hit, they had torn away and pawned. The proceeds were roasted and swallowed like marshmallow — to quench hunger for drugs and violence — until famished again tomorrow.
We were happiest when we left the city. We wanted to be far away from creatures too terrible to pity.
Many moons we prayed for them to mend their ways, to apologize and say sorry.
Sadly, they were not fond of waddling out of their biospheric, tarry pond — where they hid their histories of un-James Bond-like — bail bonds.
Why chance contamination with live vile — the evil veil.
Why fail to try to earnestly fail?
All Rights Reserved (January 2022).