I think the ghosts of years past, especially my time in combat, echo this time of night. In the bustle of work and family life each day I cannot hear them. Hell, my wife will tell you I cannot hear anything.
But here I am. In the quiet and it is like they are screaming at me.
I have gotten use to being awake. Well, that’s not true. I think I have managed to cope with being awake. Apparently the brave face I put on each day is a veil that is cracking.
It’s not you, its me
I have been told by no less than four different people in the past week I come across pissed off most of the time.
Them: “Are you ok?”
Me, fake smiling into the phone: “Yeah why?”
Them: “You just seem so pissed off and I want to make sure it is not me…”
To be honest, I was surprised the first few times I heard it. And here I thought I was blowing sunshine out my ass most days. In combat I started “False Motivation Fridays” because false motivation is better than no motivation. In the work place, with civilians who offend easily and most times have little clues or reminders about my plight, I work hard at pretending I am not angry most of the time. I thought I was putting on my happy face. My patience, after days of little sleep and stress from work and family, wears to a nub and the anger seeps through.
I need my job. I need to support my family. I am grateful, in a crap economy that I even have one. I am even more grateful that I have one that really fits with my lifestyle given my new normal. It gives me something different to focus on.
I try to execute patience with a deck stacked against me. Ninety-nine percent of the time I don’t want to open up to my experiences in combat that keep me awake and on guard. That is for my therapist and a select few who genuinely care. Some days though, I want to drag everyone down into the mud and gore with me for a peek. I want them to see the bodies just long enough to get me some breathing room and lend explanation to this fact: I was not always like this. War made me this way.
So, I thought about what is it that is really making me pissed? I think it is that I am still wrestling with a lot of emotions. My therapist had once said that men who are angry are really just depressed about something else. On the surface, I really cannot think of anything that I am depressed about. But, down in the deep, there is plenty that is still being resolved.
And so, on many days, I can dissipate the anger before it shows. Unfortunately, there are some days when I cannot stop the bubble to the surface. Please know that most of the time, it’s not you, it’s me.