Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughts. Or a lack of them.

Its been a long quarter.

Its been almost 3 years since I returned home from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Its been an upward battle, but I can now say I've come to terms with my demons.

The nightmares have all but ceased. There are only a few things that activate the terrible memories I have to carry for the rest of my days. When they do come to front. I have the ability to control these emotions. All except for the sad ones. The anger, rage, and indifference is nearly gone, my compassion and understandind is beginning to come back.

Kabul was a cakewalk for some people. Perhaps because no one died on my tour. The rocket attacks on Julien were far and few between. Most people didn't work for an EVAC company.

As a bison ambulance driver, I didn't happen to be with most of my regular transport crew. We were constantly exploring the area with the Engineers, the Royals, and on occasion, the Dragoons. We had one important fault that no body else experienced.

We didn't have weapons.

Aside from the armour, the ambulance was a sitting duck. There was no heavy weapons, no smoke grenades, nothing. The only thing protecting us was the red crosses on the ambulance. It didn't count for much. If anything. It made us a target.

Roaming the vast mountainsides of Kabul, we could see them. On the mountains. Waiting. Aiming. Toying with our minds. At any given time, they could go out and nail us. It's no secret. They are a smart enemy. 2 well placed IED's and we would make interesting hostages.

I kept my 9mm browning on the top of my thigh, and 1 spare 9mm bullet in my pocket for this reason.

That bullet was for me.

I wasn't alone in this thought. We would drive around for days, aimlessly wandering around the afghan scenery, navigating minefields, countering IED's. Sleeping under the armor. Wondering if our number would be tomorrow. Each morning we'd deal with the injured. We'd wake up to the masses looking in past the hasty constentina wire fence, wondering which one has the bomb strapped to him.

Alas, all they did was watch. That knowledge was enough to make a sane man mad. Waiting for the first shot, just so you could get it over with.

The nights were never a good sleep. The dreams of getting nailed by the next day's IED and getting flown home in the freezer would terrorize anyone. Each day we drove through the mine patches, it got a little easier on the head to handle. It was laughable by the time I got back, I wasn't flirting with death. I was tap dancing through a minefield with a 13-ton vehicle and 2 other lives, hundreds of kilometers away.

Each time we'd drive past a body, or a kid in the mine field the immoral thought of not saving them drove me mad. 3 year old children playing in the red part of the rocks, reminded me that I had a daughter at home, a wife and son. The same thought kept me from rushing in to save them, when the boom was heard later.

I still wake up. Late at night. Dreaming of the nights where Id sit in the ambulance, running as the missile strike alarm would go off. People scrambling to the bunkers. I was sitting in the ambulance wondering how many body parts I would pick up if one of them actually landed in the right spot, or if someone would pick up mine if the missile went astray.

The nightmares of me clenching my teeth as the front tire rolls over an anti-tank mine I didn't see until it was too late.

My brain has shown me in my dreams what my own blood looks like, and my innards. Perhaps its an overactive imagination.

Thankfully it has stopped. For the most part. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes. But I don't remember the dream. Guess my brains block it out.

Some things still upset me. Air raid sirens will initiate a flashback, stirring the memory. Smells of burning meat bring me back to the Green route markets. The white toyota corollas here make me laugh. Until it swerves. Then it causes and instant anger moment. Same with some arab descent people who welcome me to my own country at customs.

Certain songs make my cry. Taps. Ive lost too many brothers with that song. Remembrance day Is hard.
Amazing grace will to. Even in the best times, it does.

In the end. I say I'm cured. But I will never go back over, because If I do. I may never mentally come back home. If I come back at all.

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