The past two nights have reminded me of Iraq in more ways than one.
Two nights ago my 7month old daughter was having trouble sleeping. She would fall asleep only to wake up an hour later. This type of behavior was unique for her. Anyway my wife and I realize that she is having trouble breathing through her nose because of boogers.
This is really bad news. Lil'A's boogers are like super glue. We have two different sucking apparatus to get these sticky things out but neither work that well. As a result of their ineffectiveness, Lil'A screams bloody murder whenever we try to clean her nose.
So two nights ago it's 3 in the morning, Lil'A is crying and my wife begins to nurse her. Lil'A can't nurse because of the buggers which frustrates her and makes her cry harder. To deal with this situation means that we have to get the boogers out.
The only way to do this is to hold Lil'A down and use the sucking thingy. Lil'A loses it. Her screams are that of a tortured animal. She is fighting me with every ounce of strength she has. Her screams are cutting into my soul reminding me of screams I've heard during the war.
With a supreme effort of concentration and will, I push past her struggling body and gut wrenching cries and clear one side of her nose. I make one attempt at the other nostril and then my wife calls it.
In that moment I exploded with rage and frustration. I threw the lil plastic sucker thing on the floor, got up and left the room.
Boogers, my mind was screaming. Not insurgents, IEDs, or snipers, boogers were killing me.
Last night was a struggle of a different sort. Lil'A woke up every hour.
As I write this post I feel the same feelings of fatigue that I used to feel after all night missions.
Brain feels fried. Thoughts sluggish. Worries about dealing with the coming day. Will the coming night be the same.
Man, it's as though all the body signals from Iraq are just repeating themselves. Fatigue, rage, frustration, helplessness, anger, worry, anxiety.
New environment same internal experiences.
Have I really transitioned out of the military mindset into a civilian? Is there actually a difference?
Well you might say that what's going on with Lil'A is not a life or death situation? That doesn't seem right, everything with Lil'A is tinged with fear about her life or death.
In Iraq any and everything could be an IED; the same way any and every behavior could signal something wrong with Lil'A. Ninety nine percent of everything in Iraq was harmless, same with Lil'A but the fear is still present.
Well you might say that in Iraq I was fighting for a larger cause and here I am just being a parent. If by larger cause you imagine fighting for a hopeful future then aren't I doing the same thing with Lil'A?
Well you might say no one is trying to kill me now that I'm home. Those f$$cking boogers sure are killing me. Every time I think of having to pull Lil'A's boogers out I think about the fighting that went on in Faluja or Sadr City. These friggen boogers are dug in like the insurgents.
So what the hell is transition?
Have I really transitioned at all. All the feelings I've had in the past two days have reminded me of the war. It's like I'm back struggling with the same hopes, worries, and fears.
So I ask again, what is transition?
Strangely enough, another crappy experience I had earlier today might shine a light on the situation.
Something happened today that made me feel under appreciated and slighted. The reason I felt so strongly about this slight was because it regarded something that I have always felt insecure about.
Now I am certain that the person who did it had absolutely no intention of insulting me and was just trying to be helpful. All the same I immediately felt rage boil inside me. How dare they, who the F do they think they are. Screw them.......etc. etc. etc.
The power of these feelings were as powerful as any feeling I've ever had, pre, during and post Iraq. I had violent vengeful thoughts, the whole nine.
Only here's the difference, I didn't identify with them. I didn't let them control me or feel ashamed for having them. I didn't feel like a failure a fraud or a fool. I just watched them. It was astonishing.
I can say categorically that the Demons are still inside me. The shadow, the rage, the violence, are still there and excited to be fed and interacted with.
Only I didn't interact with them I just watched them. The same way I imagine I would watch rats eating a dead carcass. I don't mind shadow, I just don't spend all my time in it.
Part of me will always be shadow. I will never transition out of that.
Transition for me has a quality of leaving something behind. It's abundantly clear that I can't leave my shadow behind.
Is transition the right word to describe the path home from war?
I don't know.
ARMOR DOWN UPDATES
This post was guided by the 102nd stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".
This bill will
• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.
• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.
What we need right now people to show their support for this legislation by signing this petition.
To learn more about Taming and Training the mind in the gym, follow this link for two of the four week course.
A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.
Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.