My face looks weary and my eyes are puffy and red. Every sign of another sleepless night is evident by those that surround me and care for me with love. Even though I have tried to not think of the past, it keeps coming up during my sleep as a haunting dream keeps reoccurring making me sweat and shiver until the blackness goes away.
It’s hard to explain what is in that dream exactly but I can tell you it’s a mixture of fear, hate and death as well as tears and sorrow. Most of them have faces painted on my mind and some are just engulfed in blackness and darkness drowned out with heavy metal music in the background and helicopter blades swooshing around and around giving off that haunting feeling I have been there before.
Some nights it the same old story – some nights the events are as different as they can be. My mind doesn’t focus on the facts of the dream but rather the explosive nature it digs into my conscious even when I awaken and shake with fear that it might have been real.
Forty years have passed and these dreams are just as real as they were when I stepped off that silver bird that brought me home for the war. I have not forgotten every thought, every touch and every taste of the war I left behind as it is clamped solidly inside my mind, my fingers and my tongue.
Such a deep-seated feeling will never go away – I can still feel the chill in my bones whenever a song or tune triggers the memories of the past. My thoughts are good and bad but the wicked ones seem to overpower the moral ones and traps me into a state of shock and awe only another person with the same history can explain to you.
My thoughts are their thoughts – they are not my own. I have them like the many others experience them while awake or when asleep. The stress builds when the music plays and the heart beats louder and faster when the memory and the sounds begins to drudge up old memories for reasons I don’t know.
I have opted not to think about it and I do what I can to avoid the sounds or thoughts of war and death. I have learned to “let it go” to some extent but it has a rock-solid grip on my brain and it won’t go away. No matter what I have done or what I do, I have not been able to elude the pain or suffering I did so many years ago as the nightmares plague me and the sounds reminds me daily.
I looked to God for help – I prayed to God for strength and I sought from God an understanding. I learned to cope with this circle of wretchedness the best I could and bless those that understand me. It has been better lately because I gave up those things that poisoned my mind and destroyed my body allowing the toxins to leave and cleanse my conscience and soul.
I don’t have the answer how to get rid of it – I only know how to live with it so that it doesn’t change my thoughts and bring me sorrow. I’m not asking of sympathy but I am asking for empathy. Seeking to understand this phenomena I ask you walk a mile in my shoes and see the horror inside my head as days gone by never leave my mind.
This mental transformation that needs to be done is all I need to be “together” again in spirit and in mind. I have endured so many setbacks I can bounce back with resilience and get back on track again but the reality of never losing my nightmare dreams is what keeps me anchored to the reality that I will never be whole again until the Good Lord takes me away.