It has been over a month since my initial post and I received a ton of positive feedback. I had so many reservations about posting about such things, in fear of being looked at too closely. Paranoia is an ongoing side effect that still causes me a lot of issues today. I wanted to get some more thoughts down while I was able to since I have been laid up for a while after a hip procedure I had done.
I’ve had a lot of nightmares lately stemming from the first time I fired my weapon at another human being. The image of watching as the rounds shredded through his body is haunting. It was like watching a movie, in slow motion. I remember his eyes, the whites around them in particular. It was almost like I could see the life leaving his body and it just become like doll eyes, glassed over. I did not have time to reflect on it then, I had to just keep doing my job,moving and protecting my brothers around me. It wasn’t until after things calmed I realized what I had done. Being raised a Catholic growing up, church every Sunday, CCD, bible study, etc it was very hard to grasp what I had just done. I took a life, me, I was responsible for that man not going home to his family that night for just doing the same thing I was doing. I was defending my brothers in arms; he was defending his brothers, his home, and his beliefs. As misguided as we perceived them to be, it was still a horrific thing I did in my mind. I remember talking to my NCO’s and them telling me that everybody felt that way their first time. They assured me it becomes just a memory in time. They lied,it never goes away, it’s always there. It’s only the first you recall vividly they said; if only it were true. I can recall EVERY life I took, EVERY face, EVERY jerking motion, EVERY sound, EVERY smell. I carry it EVERY day.
I gave a presentation in April to our local PASS UG in Pittsburgh. It was the first time I ever presented to a group of SQL professionals and naturally, my anxiety was a bit high. I think I did very well, I had a great turn out and I engaged the audience. I went home that night feeling so proud of myself. I was so excited when I got home, my Wife decided to take me out for some ice cream. It was such a good memory that I hated for it to go away. But it happened. On our way home that night, it was dark and as I was going down the road there was something lying in the lane we were in. I immediately slammed my brakes, and froze. My Wife would later tell me that I began to shake, and my knuckles turned bright white from gripping the steering wheel so tight. She had to ask a couple behind us to help get me out of the seat and lay me down in the back. I remember getting home and lying on the couch, I don’t remember the neighbor helping me into the house, my Wife calling my doctor, my parents. She didn’t know if I was going to need to be sedated or not. It turned out that all of this over a garbage can lid in the road. A goddamn garbage can lid forced me into locking up so tight. I flashed to an IED, I didn’t want to move, I was scared to move, I didn’t want it to detonate.
Every time I have an episode, I always feel bad for those around me have to see it and to help me with it. It’s hard to ask for help for some people, I am one of them. I later did go to my neighbors home and thank him for helping, and all he could tell me was “Semper Fi my brother”. I never knew my neighbor was a Marine, so out of this came a positive. Me and my neighbor now talk about our time in, and trade stories. He never did see combat, but he knew the daily routines.
Several people in the PASS community deserve my deepest thanks for helping me get these published: Bill Wolf(@SQLWarewolf), Monica Rathbun(@SQLEspresso), and Kenneth Fisher(@SQLStudent144). Thank you all so very much for helping and offering your support.