The Reasons We Hang On, Reigniting The Fire

The below is a column which appeared on The Rhino Den today. It has been republished in its entirety here with permission from that site’s owner, much thanks to him.

The New York Times has an excellent graph of how far military suicides have jumped since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began in 2002/2003 and it’s here. The military suicide rate exceeded the civilian rate in 2008.

image - Ms. Kristin Molinaro
image – Ms. Kristin Molinaro

Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin—where to pick up, or where to end.

You start to feel that rush—the adrenaline is pumping and there is no doubt of that. You get fidgety, 1000 thoughts start running through your head, it’s impossible to register them all, but there are always the prevalent ones.

The ones that got you mad or depressed—the ones that spiked your anger. The way I hear it is, “You don’t make enough money, you’re never home, you’re so withdrawn from everyone, what good are you if you’re not around.”

Hard to take in when you’re the only one working to support your family. You’re always the problem, and no one ever has the solution.

We’re bred to think, adapt, overcome—find a new resource, method, or way of getting it done.

Easier said than done when you go back to being a civilian, punching the time clock for someone who doesn’t understand.

Sure, they say we support our military, we understand what you have to do. But those words… mostly ring hollow. How the fuck can you know what I went through?

Sure maybe you have immediate family, a friend, a lover, someone close to you who had to experience war, but you don’t know, because you didn’t live it.

We live it, 24/7, 365.

Even when you are relaxing in your chair at home, you’re scanning, looking out the blinds to see who is outside talking, making sure your car is parked facing away so you can get out if need be.

I’d like to say they are nightmares, but to me they are memories—real ones. Events I’ve lived through and somehow came away from with all my body parts. But in my mind, fragmented.

Some days sharp as a razor, every task for the day completed to 100% with no hesitation.

Then there are days where there is no focus.

Everything in a burden, a chore, a task with no meaning. I’ve dealt with this long enough, I told myself.

And so one night after yet another argument, I almost did it.

I sat there, on the edge of the tub, Glock in hand, status red and ready to fire. All I had to do was turn the pistol and squeeze…

That would have been it—no more headaches, no more fights, no more jackasses cutting me off when the lanes merge into one.

I felt it, that rush. It consumed me like nothing else ever had.

I was truly lost in my mind. I couldn’t make heads or tails of anything. If I could I probably wouldn’t be writing this.

I wish I could say I knew what stopped me. I’d like to say hearing my kids laugh did, but I’m not sure to this day. I’d like to say that it’s the warrior in me that said not yet soldier, not your time.

But the fact of the matter is I am still here, breathing and chugging away. One day at a time. And I am glad I didn’t do it.

My kids deserve their father and my parents their son.

You’re going to think about it, I’m sure of it. You’re going to think of how it will impact your friends, family, fellow brothers and sisters in arms, and so on.

There is a stigma that if we seek help we will be cast out, no longer deemed worthy of anything. They’ll say he’s a lost cause, can’t be trusted—“we went through it with him, why is he thinking that?”

And that’s ok.

Took me a while to process, but in some ways they’re right. If you’re thinking of pulling the trigger you shouldn’t be on the M4 range, or the M9 for that matter.

I didn’t tell anyone — I didn’t want to be a burden. Often times I would ask others for help with situations and they would make the answer seem so easy…

Walk a mile in my shoes bud, it ain’t so easy.

In the past year I’ve lost my gunner from my last tour and a good friend to suicide. That second one almost drove me over the edge. I saw a trend, well it worked for them, why not me.

Then I saw the impact they had on others, their families and friends.

Those two events woke a lot of people up, made them realize that instead of passing judgment, they should have been listening.

I’m guilty — I didn’t reach out as much as I could have, I can admit that freely. So there was a level of guilt I felt.

What could I have done to stop this?

This is just me talking, your situation may be different, hell it probably is. But when it comes down to the core you are still a warrior, regardless of what you’ve seen and done. You are still alive, breathing, sweating, crying.

You may be like me, only 3 hours of sleep a day, tired, feeling drained and nothing was accomplished.

I promise you, it won’t be 100% crystal clear the day you admit you need to do something, but once you recognize it, the second you realize, holy shit what the fuck did I just contemplate, and almost complete, it gets easier.

Find something, anything to distract you when you have some time to yourself, read a book on the shitter, do a cross word puzzle, draw, something, hell do pushups.

Once you realize that you still have some fire left in you it gets easier.

It’s only until we are completely lost that we find ourselves. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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