The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

EYES |

January 29, 2009

EYES
Name: Zachary Scott-Singley
Posting date: 1/29/09
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: A Soldier's Thoughts

In my head are swirling memories and thoughts, things that I cover up with my charisma and my freakishly large ego. People look at me and figure I am an asshole or someone who is amazing to hang out with. Little do they know that in my head I harbor secrets that scare even me, the keeper of them. Secrets about how I feel about myself, secrets about what kind of person I see in the mirror when I open my eyes and actually look at myself.

Go ahead all of you who have read my blog and decided that I am someone you'd like to meet, tell me how wrong I am, or how I'm a good person, but you are not me, you don't really know what is in my head or what my eyes have seen. I write and tell you of the things I have done, of the death I have born witness to and of the death I have caused. I feel no shame for my actions, regret for some, but shame? No. For that I may burn in hell, and perhaps I deserve to, but fuck anyone who dares judge me.

When I look in the mirror I see the cold dark eyes that I use to mask my thoughts, or at other times I see those warm friendly eyes that belong to a handsome man who is a good father and a good provider. Regardless of those eyes, I know what lies behind them. Maybe I look at my eyes to make sure that they are opaque, that none of you (those who know me, or those who read my writing) will ever see even a glimpse of what lies behind them. I do not like looking into my eyes. It makes me sad to see what is behind them. I pull my sleight of hand with those in my life so that they are focusing on the carefree unembarrassed fun individual I bring to them, as opposed to the monster or the hurt soul with all of its cracks and wounds. A soul that is amazing to me because of the fact that it is even there at all.

My soul. My inner being, that is so flawed that I don't even know what to say. I can tell you all of this because I still do not let on as to what is behind my eyes. I merely tell you the symptom of it all. My soul, it was once some marble statue created by God to be a beautiful form of man. What I have now is a cracked thing whose glory has long since passed. An unpolished broken and deformed version of what you have inside of yourself.

My soul is strong, yes, behind all those cracks and behind exactly how horrid it is, it still maintains its strength. It is like the scars on a shark. They were all wounds that have healed, and while the body is a disgusting mass of healed flesh the shark is more powerful because of its wounds. Each one of those brutal lacerations have taught it a lesson and it is where it's at because of them.

I am that shark. Judge me if you will, I may even deserve it, but I will always hold my head high, I will not ever let you in. As I said before, behind my eyes are things that can still make me cry, those things are only for me to see; even then they belong hidden away from all but the deepest chasms of my memory.

Comments

Hi Zach,
What a story, and the amount of hurt you have is tremendous, I pray that God will open your eyes to see the person He created and not the monster the Government had made of the once funloving person with a warm soul, and I hear your cry of pain and suffering and wish there was a way to stop it for you but even if the miles separate us I know that my prayers for you will be heard.
God Bless Brother.
Denis

Zachary,

Thank you for the post. It is because you are human that you feel this divide. Even though you will have to carry your memories and experiences with you, it is very clear that you are working hard at learning to live with it. You are not a monster, just a person with the ability to look at life in a careful way. I hope you continue to write. Finally the comment link is working again too. I tried to connect the first day of the post. Be safe and continue to take care of yourself.

I don't care if you burned 100 babies alive. You did your job just as we, the people, asked you to do. You should definitely feel no shame. You deserve to feel proud of your service record.

I think the shark metaphor is a great one. Violent behavior is a natural thing for sharks, and it's pretty natural for humans, too. In participating in the horrible dance of death, you took your place in a chain of men reaching back to beyond history. Even the earliest records of war we have pretty much all say the same thing you did: it's total hell. Your feelings are natural and are echoed in the oldest war writing of humanity.

Having said that, please don't consign your memories and feelings to the "deepest chasms." Get your ass down to your local VA and get support from other people who understand exactly how you feel.

And for the physical pain you are feeling, I recommend massage. I do massage with vets all the time, including some who have suffered unbelievable damage. I urge you to give it a try.

I hear you, Zachary, and my heart aches for you and all our brothers and sisters who feel such pain. My partner suffers as you describe. He has truly honored me by sharing a tiny glimpse of how he sees and feels about his core self. His courage to risk this awes me.

Hearing these secrets has been hard (God, what an understatement!), but it has brought us closer together and strengthened each of us and our bond. Beyond that, I can only hope that it lessens his loneliness for a few moments from time to time.

I can't and won't presume to tell you how to heal yourself or even that you can heal. Still, I will pray that you find someone among those who love you that you can trust enough to share that glimpse with. Based on my *very* limited experience, I believe that protecting them (us) from your pain only works for so long. The mutual loneliness can become unbearable.

Wow, powerful words, powerful image: Zack as Shark. I'm sure you've been given all the information you need and your family has been debriefed about PTSD. I'm not saying or trying to push you to do anything. Do something in your own time as you feel us warranted and necessary. However, if you want to talk or family wants to go to a Vet Center. I am a Viet Nam vet and I decided to become a counselor and work at a Vet Center. Stop by for a coffee. Welcome Home.

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