Doomed by Nightmares
I'm running across the desert, full body armor, the enemy is on my heel, bullets are whizzing by my head, an airstrike is screaming around me. Fighter jets, helicopters, blood. Bodies are dropping left and right. Everyone is running; scrambling to safety. It's chaos and confusion; searching for a bunker. They are all blown up or full. Friends who weren't in the military with me are now beside me, waiting for direction; guide us, show us what to do. I don't know! They don't even have battle rattle on, no weapons. Relying on me!? The fight is getting more hectic, louder, there's chaos, screaming, explosions, and it all lies in my hands...
Nightmares. Horrible nightmares. Night after night. You want to know why I move forward so quickly? Because what is behind me terrifies me. It haunts my dreams. Always on my mind. Sometimes even paralyzed with anxiety. Shame. Guilt. Regret. PTSD. I guess I'm not afraid to talk about it. We'll see how it goes...
~please note this post has the potential to get emotional, angry, and/or ugly. I also drop the f bomb a few times.
I wake up drenched in sweat, heart racing, tears in my eyes...
Even though my time spent in war does not reflect this particular battle scene, the sounds, the chaos, the smells, the blood, the death... it surrounded me. Don't think for one second that because I'm a female, was an officer, or was an engineer that I wasn't on the front line. Because truth be told, there was no front line. There was a battlefield. And you have no idea who is your ally and who is your enemy.
Soldiers full of bullet holes. Blown up by a pile of trash that some dirty fucking terrorists rigged to destroy us. Missing limbs, eyes blown out, burns more severe than you can imagine. Burning bodies. Have you ever smelled a burning body? Charred remains. Innocent children taken casualty to war. Children left behind that will never know their mommy or daddy.
Do we need to discuss the emotional and mental toll? Not all wounds are visible...
It doesn't mean they aren't real. I use mine to inspire, motivate, and encourage. To remind people that life is beautiful. "Turn pain into purpose..." ~thank you Trish <3
I walked away with all my limbs. Free from bullet holes. Most of us do.
But you have no idea the scars of our wounds. You have no idea what we accept every morning when we wake up. What we've seen. What we've done. What we know.
Don't tell me what I did was easy. There's nothing easy about Soldiers taking their own life because they are living with such deep guilt and regret that they feel like it's their only option. Soldiers fighting for their life only to die bleeding out on a table. Alone. Soldiers sacrificing everything they know and love so you don't have to. There's nothing easy about knowing that your decision, your guidance and leadership could kill someone's son, husband, father. There's nothing easy about kill or be killed. Fuck you and your entitled life. You don't even know.
Now before I get too crazy or any more offensive let me say, my first deployment to Iraq had some of the most memorable amazing memories of my life! Those Soldiers taught me how to be an officer. How to be an Engineer. We had FUN. We made the most of our situation with pranks, football, working out, and playing cards together. We had birthday celebrations and holiday meals together; we were family. If I had to do it all over again, I would. With the same men and women as before. I am fortunate to have spent that time with those Soldiers in Iraq. And Afghanistan, I discovered so much about myself. I became a different person after those 17 months. Some for the good, some for the bad. I recognized all the important things in life and really learned who and where support comes from. Not always from where you expect it. I am grateful for every minute spent at war. I would not be the me I am today without these experiences.
Perhaps that is why I get SO angry when you belittle what I did; what ALL Soldiers do.
How dare you make my time so meaningless and wasted. How dare you devalue my position as an Engineer Officer or claim that any of my time spent was "easy" or "effortless".
Bigger picture: how dare you disrupt military funerals and disrespect my brothers and sisters that died protecting your freedom. How dare you thank God for maimed & dead Soldiers and IED's. And you know what, how dare you salute my battle buddies with a fucking latte in your hands.
Nightmares. Yeah I have them. Almost every night. I'm sick of them.
PTSD. Yeah I have it. It's a daily struggle. Triathlon and doing what I do is my therapy.
Nothing in my life has came EASY. Fuck easy. I don't do easy.