Don’t Make Me Shit In Your Tofurky

Photo on 11-20-14 at 11.36 PM

I just ended (for tonight anyway) and epic text conversation I’ve been having with a Marine in the Northeast. We’ve never met in person. He’s not someone I served with. We connected through my work after he saw the documentary on Showtime. Say what you want about social media but (in addition to being a huge time-suck sometimes) it has been a great way for me to connect with a lot of wonderful people and this Marine is one of them. We texted on and off for the past several hours and mostly it was just our trading back-and-forth laugh lines infused with that peculiar Marine Corps sense-of-humor that you’ll find no where else. That’s one of the things I miss most about the Corps, just hanging out and shooting the shit with other Marines. They are some of the funniest people on the planet. Not a lot of people know that but any of you who’ve been around us definitely know what I’m talking about. Anyway, after chatting it up with this dude all afternoon (he helped me get through what has been a pretty rough day to tell you the truth) he ended it all by getting all gay and mushy— just kidding. The guy’s actually straight and his words were heartfelt and hit me square in the heart too. What he said was about the words. “My” words. (Quotation marks because they come through me and not from me.)  He said very kind things about how my writing had effected him. I’m grateful. Grateful to him for saying them and grateful to God for letting my words reach the hearts of people. It’s the best part of my life. And that’s why I’m doing so much to work through the fear that has kept me paralyzed (to the extent that it has) for so long so that I can accomplish that particular goal that has to do with churning out the literature.

Through the process of the blog, I’ve been able to see (as if from outside) some of what got me to such a place. People who think that I’ve been bringing up the bad things that happened to me in my past as some sort of masturbatory desire to stay immersed in trauma are ignorant assholes and I hope they get fat off Thanksgiving pie next week. The people who read me and “get it” that God is behind all this and there’s a reason for it all and this blog, and the process, and my life, are unfolding perfectly and on time are my best friends. They’re the smartest.

Here’s the deal: there’s such a thing as chronic, compounded trauma. It’s different in some ways from acute trauma and the symptoms associated therewith. I first became aware of it when I was doing peer counseling with women who had been victims of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) of a particular sort. (I don’t want to discount the fact that men, too, experience MST but my experience has been with women.) What I noticed was that there seems to be some subtle differences in the response to chronic trauma such as longterm sexual harassment as opposed to acute trauma such as rape. I don’t want to compare them in any way that might seem to compare them in some “which is worse” sort of way; that is futile and useless anyway. There is a sort of tiredness (for lack of a better term) that comes from chronic trauma. My personal belief is that that comes from once incidence of a traumatic event being compounded upon the effects of an earlier traumatic event. I hope that in some small way I’ve been able to help my sisters-in-arms and I don’t intend to stop trying. Although it wasn’t my intention at all, I found that they too had given me a gift with regard to trying to sort through my own issues.

I have shared a few (actually only a fraction) of some the traumatic things that happened in my early life and throughout my developmental stages. I’d like to affirm again that I intend to work through and past all the negative ramifications and on into the life that I believe is not only possible but probable for me if I do the work. The gift my sisters who had suffered chronic trauma gave me is the ability to start to see how the constellation of symptoms known as PTSD had become part of my response to any and all fearful situations at least by the time I was a teenager, if not much earlier. The PTSD I brought home from Iraq was fuel on that fire. That “fuel” would have been enough to fuck me up even if I hadn’t had a rough time growing up in Alabama but I am going to get un-fucked-up if it takes me the rest of my life. A better way to put it (that I learned from Zen Teacher and Vietnam Veteran Claude Anshin-Thomas) is that I intend to “learn to live in a more healthy relationship to my experience.”

I could spend this “year to live” blogging about my daily life. I have a very interesting and full life and I’m confident that y’all wouldn’t get bored if I did that. But I could also see myself doing that, not moving forward with regard to my goals, and ending up in a similarly despondent place on September 1, 2015 as I was on September 1, 2014. And y’all know what the deal with that is.

I need to simplify this process. The inside of my head can be a very un-simple place. I am convinced that I will be— oh God, there is absolutely no way to say this without having a shit-ton of you write to me to tell me to “be happy now” or “enjoy the journey.” Jesus, sometimes you people who love me annoy the fuck out of me. Okay, simply put, I want to see my fucking goals come to fruition. I believe that the things God told me to do to bring those goals into manifestation will work. I don’t do them. I don’t do the action items. I’m pretty sure that if I don’t do the action items that God told me to do, the goals won’t be made manifest and if the goals aren’t made manifest I’m pretty sure that since so many of you you have whined and moaned about how fucked up you’d be if I actually went through with my plan to off myself if I was still in the same place in a year that I would decide instead to smoke pot. That actually sounds like a decent idea on a somewhat regular basis and (because there is much evidence to the contrary with regard to me and addiction) I do actually think that I would eventually convince myself that it would be okay for me to “just” smoke weed and then if I smoke weed I could see a situation where I might have a diminished defense against the thought that other intoxicants might be okay too and then I could end up in a much, much, much, much, much, worse place than I was on September 1, 2014. I don’t want that. I’d rather achieve my goals.

So then it boils down to “why doesn’t he simply do those fucking action items?!” It’s because of— wow, this is sort of hard to explain— at the very least embarrassing. It’s because I end up in this “place.” It’s the “place” that PTSD takes me. It feels like I am driving under an overpass in Iraq with my head sticking up out of the hatch of my LAV and I’m convinced that a sniper is aiming at my face and the pile of trash I’m about to drive past is an IED. It’s the “place” of standing in the schoolyard at Parrish Elementary and being called a “nigger-loving faggot” by a group of much-bigger-than-me redneck boys who are about to beat the shit out of me. Silly huh? An action item like “write” or “lift weights” or  “drink water” or even some of the “abstaining” action items like “don’t engage in self-medicating behaviors” and I feel like someone is about to kill me??  Yep, that’s exactly what I’m telling you.

So I have to let this process get small. I have to let it get very simple so that I can actually have the big life that I’m dreaming of (and yes, you assholes who love me, I realize that I have a big awesome life already. I’d just like to start feeling that more— and let one of you write to me and tell me that that is just as simple as “deciding” and I will come to your house next Wednesday night and shit in your turkey— or your tofurky for my Cali and Brooklyn friends.)

Tomorrow I’m going to take the first goal and the action items associated with it and we’re going to look this fear straight in the eyes— together, if you don’t mind. Then everything will be okay, right? Thanks. That’s what I thought.

See y’all tomorrow. 

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