1.22.2008

A New Hope

Alright, before I bust another literary nut with reckless abandon and no consideration, I think I owe some of you an explanation.

I'm not a hateful rebelious little bastard 24/7. I've still got the ol' priorities straight, I still stay as sharp as I can out in sector, and I know better than to get myself in trouble with my superiors. It breaks down like this, chief:

This was a nice, heartwarming little blog all nice and generally innocent and tongue in cheek. But shit started to catch up with me. I was having nightmares about Iraq every night, not sleeping for shit. Getting stressed the hell out over stupid shit, losing my patience, damn near having anxiety/anger attacks. Heading towards a level of crazy that Pink Floyd could never fathom.

It got to the point where I said "Fuck it." I told my platoon sergeant that if he could let me stay back, and count it as an off day, I had something I needed to take care of. I didn't tell him what. Then I took my raw nerves and rabid ass to see the combat stress docs. I filled out paperwork, answered literally hundreds of questions, I threw it all out there for them. Opened the floodgates. Talked about explosions and whizzing bullets and dead bodies and losing guys, the kind of guys you wish would always be around. I straight up popped a verbal X-Lax and went to town on these guys.

They stood there, nodding, and then they gave me fucking BENADRYL as a sleep aid. I could have gone to the PX, bought some myself, and been done with the whole ordeal in a half hour. When I came back for a follow-up, they told me I have some PTSD symptoms (nothing too extreme thank god) and a strange case of depression in which I have absolutely no feelings of sadness. Granted, the questions they have you answer on paper don't leave much room for explanation, so I brushed that one off.

Here's the kicker. You know what they told me?

"Suspect, what you should do, is you should start writing about what you experience here. You'll find that it's a great outlet and it's very therapeutic."

I'm reminded of A Perfect Circle's "The Package" as I nod and nod and acknowledge and try to get them to get to the point, the end result, so I can go on about my business. Where they stop jerking me around and tell me "This is what's going to happen." I nodded my head through two hours of foreplay to find that it was all just a cocktease.

The Benadryl left me groggy and feeling like shit the next day. All that horseshit about Combat Stress Control being a great program and really helping soldiers, all the pamphlets and smiling Joes shaking hands with Majors and everyone's completely carefree, it's all just another handjob for the mind. In the picture, everyone's happy and having a great time, but where are the guys that were killed out here? Where's all that baggage that brought Joe in there?

Maybe I just wasn't sent to the right exorcist.

I finally just got fed up. I sat down at the computer one night and realized that I wasn't even being honest with myself, and as a result, I wasn't being honest with anyone who reads this. So, ladies and gentlemen, the gloves came off. I stopped pulling punches and I let it all out, full bore, Shotgun Journalism, raw and full of piss and vinegar, with a LOT of ignorance and lack of wisdom, because that's what Joe is. He's uninformed and sees only the little picture, and it's a fucked up little picture too, and he gets pissed, and he bitches and fumes.

This shit-for-brains blog became a drain, and as a routine, I'd sit down and cut open that putrid vein and bleed all the bullshit out. And you know what? Since taking off the Disney label, I haven't had ONE nightmare about Iraq. I've slept like a baby, and I haven't come even CLOSE to losing it.

The downside is, as great as I feel, you hardly ever get to see it. You get the Hate, the dump. Because if I wasn't writing about that, I wouldn't be writing at all. Nothing interesting has happened lately. So there you have it. With that said, let's move right along for your Feel-Good Moment.



I was behind the wheel of a god-knows how many ton green monster, flying down the road past districts and towns and villages, eyeballing the sides of the road, avoiding anything that might even be confused as something suspicious, checking out the people outside, looking at the rooftops, the windows, pretty much everything you can take in while traveling forty miles an hour.

We turned a corner and passed a bunch of Iraqi Army vehicles, something we normally look down on, when something dawned on me.

They had the area cordoned (blocked) off, and they were clearing an entire village. By themselves. No Americans helping them out. And it looked like they were doing it right. I was blown away. I did a double take and damn near went off the road.

It wasn't monumental, but dammit, it was SOMETHING. I felt good about that. So who knows, maybe there's still hope for this hellhole.

29 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    In a strange way, when you tell it like it REALLY is, I feel like you're letting me be "there" for you. So, keep talking and don't hold back.

    ~Lynda
    P.S. Military (socialized) medicine really sucks. I guess that's why they call it a "practice."
    Anonymous said...
    Don't worry about telling us the "feel good" stuff. Write what you need to help yourself first.

    Do what you need to get yourself through it.
    Shari said...
    Write what you NEED to write. You can't go telling those around you this stuff (and when you did, it sounds like you did not get very far...), but the crap needs to be drained out of your soul.... Just like that nasty sore on your leg had to drain to heal... Biggest difference between the two is that an infected soul hurts way more and and takes longer to heal....

    Keep writing and sleep well Ryan. We will keep reading....

    Shari
    mamaworecombatboots said...
    Really nice photos.

    Sleep well.
    themorethingschange... said...
    Dude!

    YOU ROCK!!!

    ~p~
    WmEarl said...
    Write, write and write - when you aren't there anymore no one will come to read, read, nor read. Dreams are always nicely strange, nightmares are out of control and I think damaging, but I haven't had those for a long long time. Keep your weapons clean, ammunition loaded, mind clear and body hydrated and fed good food, and laugh at real funny stuff.
    Anonymous said...
    I got a good feeling reading this post. How'd you do that, with such a shit situation? You're pretty good! Hang in there!
    LL said...
    So, you start talkin' out into the void and tell it like it really is and you semi-apologize for being so brutally honest.

    Back that truck the fuck up.

    Just tell it like it is. Period. No justifications or apologies or explanations.

    We're big boys and girls. There's always the "Next Blog" button for those who can't deal with it.

    Drive on.
    Jenni said...
    Sometimes I think people, me included, forget that this is your thing (I'm deliberately not using the word blog because I know how much you love that word). Anyway, you didn't have to make it public...but you chose to so we could read about your experiences.

    Really, you're the only one has the right to critique and criticize your writing and thoughts. So while it's considerate of you to explain to people about your writing, you really don't owe it to anyone...even though it does help people put everything into perspective.

    =)
    Red said...
    Well, I guess I can stop worrying about your mental state! Actually, I worry about everyone over there, it's the way I am. I'm glad you showed us a bit of the less-dark side of things. And hey, we're here to listen. We come here to read your rants because we want to! Don't worry about explaining yourself to us!
    Infantry Dad said...
    Great post Ryan.
    I think most everyone that blogs does it for theraputical reasons.
    I know I do.
    Cept sometimes i go days without anything that I CARE TO WRITE ABOUT. (Damn caps lock).
    Are you 4th brigade 2nd/23rd?
    My son is with the 4th bde stryker unit. He says a lot of the same things you blog when we communicate, so you aren't alone.
    Stay safe.
    Paul said...
    Dude,

    Great stuff: the catharsis and the creativity. Don't forget to forgive yourself, and don't feel guilty. You're just doing your job as a Soldier. I'm supposed to say that.

    CH (CPT) Paul Lynn
    www.worthmysalt.blogspot.com
    Strykeraunt said...
    Thank you for clarifying that the rants are working. I really don't think any commenter here criticized your posts. Processing your rage is a good thing. I took it more as a concern by some that the processing of your rage had somehow gotten stuck...making sure your head is still in the game.

    "Maybe I just wasn't sent to the right exorcist." Your probably right about that. However, their advice to write appears to correct for you. Benadryl does work as a sleep aid for some but obviously not everyone.

    In my opinion, IA clearing their own village with no help from Americans is monumental.

    Take care and stay safe.
    Strykeraunt said...
    Thank you for clarifying that the rants are working. I really don't think any commenter here criticized your posts. Processing your rage is a good thing. I took it more as a concern by some that the processing of your rage had somehow gotten stuck...making sure your head is still in the game.

    "Maybe I just wasn't sent to the right exorcist." Your probably right about that. However, their advice to write appears to correct for you. Benadryl does work as a sleep aid for some but obviously not everyone.

    In my opinion, IA clearing their own village with no help from Americans is monumental.

    Take care and stay safe.
    Anonymous said...
    Whatever anyone says, your brutal posts are important. For you, for your people here, for everyone. The more informed we are the better.

    But it's definitely good to know those last few posts aren't your only lines of thought.

    Your amazing and you know where we are should you need us :)
    Jessie said...
    Hold up, back that trolley up.

    Why are you justifying your blog content to anyone? No, seriously. It's yours. This is your place to let it out into the atmosphere so you don't bottle it up, shoot it off into the air, and have it land on your head. You're doing what you need to make sure you're safe. Hello. Fuck 'em if they don't understand it. Blogs, online journals, private website, it doesn't matter what it is because it's all about the particular creator. No need to apologize. Seriously.

    Let's put it this way, we're in your sandbox, not our own. We have our own for whatever our issues are. We read here because (a) you're a damn good writer, (b) you're talking about things that interest us, and (c) seem like a damn fine person (yeah, asshole tendencies or not at times; hello, only human). Don't worry about what others think. As long as you're feeling better, purging it out, then you're golden. Like Ponyboy. Except without Matt Dillion and Patrick Swayze as crew members.

    Do you need to be hit with a cheese biscuit?
    Aprillini said...
    I love your rants. And that they make you sleep better. I agree with whoever said"

    We're big boys and girls. There's always the "Next Blog" button for those who can't deal with it.

    Rock on.
    Anonymous said...
    People ask if it bothers me sometimes to read your blog. But I say that as long as you're writing, it's not bouncing around in your head, and you're getting it out.

    I met a marine just back from his second tour, and I asked him how he was, emotionally. He said something that helped me more than any words could ~ he said, "Bad things happen. Whether you're in Iraq or anywhere else, things happen that are beyond what a person can get through alone. But if you have a strong family, you can get through anything." And I was relieved, because we have a strong family. But sometimes, when I read your blog, I know there is nothing I can say, and that sometimes I don't know that I have the right to say, "ok ~ re-think", because as hard as I try to understand, unless I've been through what you're going through, I not capable of understanding.

    The neat thing about your blog is it's a two-way diary sometimes. When I read entries of people who have been there, and know what, on one level or another, you're going through, and their words of encouragement, along with a message to think on a higher level, outside of today and what's going on, and looking toward a future that doesn't involve military, I find myself thinking, "Thank God for this blog."

    I don't worry when you write. I worry when you don't. =->

    I love you bud...
    Mom
    my own hero said...
    I dont look at your rants as a bad thing. It's always good to let that shit out, and if it's helping you sleep of course do what you need to do. In my last comment to you, I just wanted to make sure that you were still thinking straight. As strykeraunt said, it seemed as though the processing had gotten stuck.

    Reading negative posts doesn't bother anyone who reads your blog, including me. Hell, normally your negativity is worded so that we all laugh from the gut. You are an excellent writer and thats why we all have stuck around. I couldnt give two squirts of piss what happened on your patrol last night, but I read about it because of the way you write about it....if that makes sense.

    When I found your blog and read ten or so posts, I was forced to go back to the first post of the old blog and start reading from there. I spent every night at work for a week straight reading and re-reading. It was so incredible that I was telling everyone I know about it. I check your blog before I check my email everyday.

    My last comment to you was a concern, I was noticing the complete change. I know that men are changed after time in the sandbox. Unfortunately, some men are changed for the very worst. I wanted to basically call you out to make sure that wasn't happening to you. I've seen some pretty high speed squared away soldiers turn into big bags of dick after spending some time over there.

    I kicked around the idea of posting my last comment anonymously, but I figured if I was going to show concern I should let you know who was concerned. Perhaps I should have sent it in email?
    Oh well Im an asshole.
    Heep letting it out Suspect. This is your thing. But if yo are going to enable comments, not all of us are going to be peachy all the time either.

    Its good to know you are still policing yourself. Keep it up, you'll be home soon.
    Anonymous said...
    Your words; This shit-for-brains blog became a drain, and as a routine, I'd sit down and cut open that putrid vein and bleed all the bullshit out. And you know what? Since taking off the Disney label, I haven't had ONE nightmare about Iraq. I've slept like a baby, and I haven't come even CLOSE to losing it.

    Then PARTY ON DUDE! Because we all want you to survive this. If letting fly gets you through the night, the LET FLY! We, I, they, will GLADLY listen to whatever you need to say, because you need to say it.

    Believe me, we are not in your shoes. Not in danger (well sometimes, on the freeway, but not like you are). Not suffering discomforts, not dealing with gunfire. Remember, we're in the Mall, shopping, like the Prez said to.

    Generally, war is fucked up. It's part bullshit lie where you're told you're the savior of your country, and you wind up a shit-assed Joe way, way, east of Bumfuck, Egypt. So, the feeling of righteous indignation, followed by outrage and, eventually, depression, would indicate a fully functioning, intact nervous system.

    Oh, yeah, the PTSD Docs? Well, to quote Philsy, "How's that working out for ya?" So, yeah, all of ya, yer buds, your unit, get up and bitch. Nobody expects you guys to be inspirational choir boys. You are hip deep in shit. There's bound to be a taint in the air.

    It's all good. It sucked wayback, and it sucks now. So, if you feel a little giddy from lack of oxygen, and the sucking sound is giving you a headache, it's all real. Sorry it has to be you.

    Thanks for letting us in to the real deal. Don't hold back on my account.
    themorethingschange... said...
    "...It wasn't monumental, but dammit, it was SOMETHING. I felt good about that. So who knows, maybe there's still hope for this hellhole."

    To paraphrase a young Joe I hold in high regard -- it may be a small victory but dammit, it's a victory!

    ROCK ON Suspect!!

    ~P~
    Anonymous said...
    6 months ago you told me that when you yell, holler, cuss, and rant it's just your way of dealing with it. There ya go. Now you have a PhD in Psychology! After this last one, I actually felt better about you. This won't be the last time life will suck. Now we know you know how to A) bring yourself back, and B) ask for help if you can't do it alone. So, you went from a normal male with hangups back to the Olympic god. Now, if I find out you ask for directions when you get lost, I'm gonna submit your pic to be added to Mount Rushmore! I still wanna be you when I grow up... just without the Benedryl.
    Love ya, Dude!

    Aunt Sandy
    Army Sergeant said...
    Tell it the way it really is. And if I had a dollar for every failed PTSD treatment, I could retire.
    Anonymous said...
    Fuck you! Fuck me! Please keep filling us in. The F***head is keeping the beers cold for you. Watch your ass until then and save up some Fuck You's for the homecoming!
    Anonymous said...
    There is a line from a Bruce Cockburn song (so not your genre!)that says, "you have to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight." So, kick away. Take care of yourself...seems like you've got a pretty good handle on that.
    Anonymous said...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ve5MhZSbTE&feature=related
    Anonymous said...
    Here's the kicker. You know what they told me?

    "Suspect, what you should do, is you should start writing about what you experience here. You'll find that it's a great outlet and it's very therapeutic."

    Suspect, your post actually made me smile. I love a happy ending. One day you may see that their advice is not a quick fix, but if it let's you sleep it's working.
    Anonymous said...
    your pictures and writing are excellent

    you have a talent there, son
    Anonymous said...
    Suspect,

    You rock. The blog is for you, not us. We appreciate you letting us read it, but it's for you.

    Take care and have a good rest,
    Uncle Paul

Post a Comment