In Jarhead, there’s a story, “A Story. A man fires a rifle for many years… And he goes to war. And afterward, he turns the rifle in at the armory… And he believes he’s finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands… Love a women, build a house… Change his sons diaper… His hands remember the rifle”... Only, it’s not a story, and the way that you will remember it is not how you might imagine.

I’ve never felt so hopeless. I’ve never felt so alive. Each day I seem to forget a little more, a face here, a building there. Each night my brain dreams up some new and horrifying thing to replace the missing fragments with. Filling in the gaps in my memories with images I didn’t even know I could imagine. My most disturbing memories becoming more and more grotesque as the time passes. They start off real, turn surreal, then trickle their way into the very very unreal. Dreams of a time that I can barely remember have become nightmares that I would pay to forget.

I empty my gun and lock it in the safe before bed. Then wake up with it in my hands, fully loaded, aimed at a dark corner of the room. I try to sit through fireworks shows and find myself low crawling through sand. I rinse off my already clean hands and leave blood on the rag when I dry them. The slightest smell of burning oil throws me into a coughing fit. I’ve almost caused countless accidents swerving to avoid trash on the side of the road. I randomly play out strangers deaths in my mind… I wonder at what speed I can bounce this pedestrian off of my grill without leaving a dent…

Subconsciously counting exits when I walk into buildings. Sizing up possible opponents when we meet, planning out their first move and my counter. The tinnitus rings loudest when I’m alone, in my bed. I can’t prove it, but I’m positive that it has woken me out of a dead sleep many times before. The pain in my back is the gift that keeps on giving. Sometimes sharp, sometimes throbbing, and sometimes it’s even a numb feeling. Still, it remains constant.

Yes, I have “seen combat”, up close and personal. But no, I have never been in it. Odd to hear isn’t it? I’ve discovered IEDs with my eyes as well as the tires on my truck and mine roller. I’ve been bombed more times than I can count. Especially since after a while you get used to it and end up sleeping through the booms. I spend more nighta on my couch than my bed. Which is a huge step up from when I was the floor. Somehow, being uncomfortable is the only thing that makes me comfortable.

The men that I lost overseas still came home with me. And every once in a while I’ll get a visit. As bad as this all sounds, it’s only a fraction of what I’ve been through, and still go through. Whenever I open my mouth about the less spectacular side of war I get funny looks. People always wonder why you would volunteer for such a thing, how you felt about it then, and what your thoughts are on it now.

I wish that I could find the words to explain. But I can not. What I went through was the epitome of the saying “you had to be there”. From my first meeting with my recruiter until now, none of it really translates in a way that would do it any justice. Your actions are justified by your mindset. And that is molded by your experiences. And if you’re “lucky”, you’ll spend many years suppressing the memories of those experiences.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jad says:

    Wow…this was deep


    1. Thanks haha I tried

      Liked by 1 person

  2. gigglingfattie says:

    I know this is fiction but still so sad 💛

    Liked by 1 person

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