Compensation and Review Board is the name given to a panel of persons with the Veterans’ Administration that recommends whether a disability rating should be approved for a deserving vet.
I face a panel today. Trying to convince someone my “handicap” is permanent, and that no treatment could ever cure it. To show that PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is so ingrained in me that to remove it, would involve the unravelling of much of who I have become, and who I am.
It spurred me on to great heights. How else could a young man with barely a high school education — trade school, at that — dare to dream he was not only “college material,” but “Dean’s List” material, finishing in three years all the academic requirements for a four-year BA. And with a year left on the GI Bill, I got an MA.
In 12 months! A feat that usually takes two years.
But I was driven by a sense of “failure.” Failure for all the wrongs — the harms — I experienced in Vietnam. I buried it all. Never took time to “process” the trauma. Swept it beneath a rug, only to find it years later through flashback after flashback as stress pushed my “control” over the top of my “vessel” pouring fear, anger, and hurt over the brim. Shame. Guilt. Loss of Love, purity and innocence could not be contained anymore. It seeps out when I least expect it. Like last night:
Can hardly see with this heavy rain that’s falling. Have to park at the top of the hill behind my house. No parking spots out front.
Rain’s letting up. Got the umbrella. Opening it, I walk across the street, feeling a chill at my toes which are exposed because I’m wearing sandals. Now I’m walking on the grass behind a neighbors back yard, Ground is wet. Muddy in spots. Oh no! I just fell driving my left knee into the earth. Getting up I notice I twisted the umbrella as I fell, bending the metal attached to the handle. It’s warped. Just like my night is becoming . . .
I feel the cold over the knee cap. Mud covers a 12-inch patch of the leg. My white socks are dirty brown after walking in mud.
At least the lamp-post in the yard will help light my pathway.
Crap! The light’s off. Can’t see. Why didn’t someone turn on the outside light? Don’t they know I’m still out of the house? I always insure the light is on for my son, who parks in the back. Why couldn’t someone be as sensitive to me as I am toward them?
Rain comes down harder as I walk some 100 steps to get from our gate at top of our back yard and finally to the kitchen door. Umbrella is bent, and not doing its job to keep rain from me.
Jesus Christ Almighty! The doors locked. Bolted. Who the hell would do such a thing? Don’t they know that I’m alive? That I exist? Please don’t treat me like I’m no good, that I don’t count.
Help me. Please. Open the door. Please give me Peace.
Through you I am learning so much about PTSD and the human spirit. These little stories of your life are so poignant. Yes– you matter!
I know, but there are days when I just want to . . . go caveman and forget civilization.
My heart is with you.
Thanks. I always feels better the next day.
I often feel my small sense of self complain when I come home from a hard day of work and find the door locked or the lights out… “don’t they know how hard I work for them?” I hear in my mind as the disappointment arises.
Then I open the door and my little daughter squeals with glee at my arrival, running into my tired arms and my wife greets me with a kiss and a warm smile.
It is hard to notice and let go in those times when our mind makes up these stories… something I too am working on. Thanks for sharing in honesty and detail.
Best of luck in your review! It is unfortunate that you must justify such things when you stood up for your country. It almost reminds me of a prison review board.
You’re right. Our minds make up these stories and we fall prey time and again. Some day I’m going to wise up and tell the mind to “mind his own business.” I’m not going to bite anymore.
*love and hugs*
I will carry both the Love and the Hugs to Hell and back. They will help get me through the day. And on to tomorrow.
You’re good M.L.
You count SO much, and you have inspired a lot of people around these parts (myself included), and you’re a kind, intelligent, open person, and you are loved. What you’ve been doing is beautiful. Keep reminding yourself of the truth.
I genuflect before you with head bowed. I kiss your hand, my Lady, and gladly go do battle for the sake of your kindness . . . And your Love.