Denial of Life Changing Events
Not so bullet-proof
Having led a very full life over a short forty-six year span, I have experienced several significant events. The one event I can think of that has made a huge impact on me is the one event I have tried to deny had an impact, or have downplayed the significance of for years. I am a twenty-plus year veteran of our Armed Forces and much older than your average soldier. This makes me what younger soldiers refer to as “old school”. It is a title I have worn proudly for many years now, but also the reason for my denial of the significance of this certain event. Old school soldiers are not supposed to show any perceived weakness of any kind, and think things only happen to other, weaker soldiers. These things I am not supposed to experience because I am Billy Joe Bad Ass, Super Trooper, Kill a Commie for Mommy, Leather Headed Jar Neck, and all around invincible.
The event I am speaking of is my survival of an Improvised Explosive Devices detonation five meters from my head. I had been through several of these explosions prior to this one, but this one in particular was really close. It is pretty hard for most people to imagine a 155mm shell exploding five meters from one’s head, so I will skip the details, as I can probably not describe enough what such an explosion is like. I came out of the incident without even a scratch. The only evidence I had been through this was a small black mark on my Desert Camouflage Utilities from a chunk of asphalt that hit my sleeve. There was also the ringing in my ears that persisted for several hours.
This kind of experience will, of course, only bolster one’s attitude of indestructibility. Soldiers are supposed to exude certain amounts of confidence, and this incident certainly gave me some bragging rights. This has led to my denial of the long term affects of this explosion, unfortunately. In the days of old, things like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were certainly not viewed upon with any compassion and such a disorder was viewed upon as a sign of weakness by other indestructible men. Only recently have attitudes begun to change as the medical profession has studied this disorder more and more. Although I do not suffer the classic symptoms such as nightmares, excessive drinking, or wanting to hurt myself, I have experienced an unexplained rage over the last few years.
The significance of this event has started to come home to me recently. I can no longer deny the effects of this explosion. When one starts to snap at his innocent three year old daughter over some minor incident, or snap and yell at the most wonderful woman in the world, my wife, there is undeniably a problem. For the sake of my family I can no longer deny the impact of this event and must do the hardest thing in the world for an old war-horse soldier can do. I must admit that I have been affected and seek help where I can find help. I have to admit that I am not Superman, nor indestructible. It is a hard pill to swallow for anyone in the Armed Forces to swallow, much less an old Jarhead like myself. Dealing with this type of incident is exclusive to younger soldiers as old schoolers like me were beaten into the notion we were invincible and any admitting of weakness was viewed as a dishonor to one’s self, one’s country, one’s corps, and one’s God.
Hopefully, I can get the help I need before it is too late. It would be a devastating blow to lose one’s family over a stupid thing like pride. Growing old is hard enough to come to terms with for an old warrior. Admitting that one is not the invincible person he was trained to be is a whole different ballgame. The warrior ethos will help in the long run, as it teaches to never quit, never surrender. Coming to terms with whatever degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I may suffer will be a tough battle. With the love and support of my family, the help of God, and the support from my military family, hopefully this significant event can become the less significant event I once thought it was.
I wrote this hub a couple of months ago and never published it. Just to keep everyone updated, I have since been diagnosed with PTSD and my wife has filed for divorce. If you have wondered where I have been for the last few months, this hub above should explain things.