“Dad doesnt ever smile laugh or play with me.”
“Living with someone with PTSD you never see them smile.”
I’ve felt like this so long, I can’t really remember feeling any other way. A huge portion of my life I’m on autopilot. Maybe it’s the training. Ive heard people talk before about the training taking over. My memory is such a blurry haze I cant recall it happening to me.
Maybe I can train myself to smile though.
I often feel things are going well, only to realize that things feel that way because I’m withdrawing. I find solace in my isolation. In that comfort is the danger of not being able to leave it.
Does it matter if I smile when no ones around to see it?
What I do recall comes in waves, sometimes gently rolling up to me. Other times crashing beating me down and reshaping me. My memory being what it is it’s unreliable as well. I’ve found myself carrying guilt for things that weren’t the way I remember.
Smile, because it’s never really that bad.
It’s never the combat that eats me. That’s what I signed up for. What’s haunted me most has been the non combatants. The by-standers who ate shrapnel meant for us. The victims of the civil war going strong while we stood on the sidelines.
Smile for the people we saved.
After one such incident, I carried an unnecessary burden for years. I was the driver in the lead vehicle. We were coming from behind a building and getting back onto the road. A wall and trees blocked even my gunners field of view.
Smile for the beautiful day it was.
As soon as my tires hit the road a car collided with our front end at a high rate of speed. We didn’t budge. A turn signal marker was cracked. Not the light itself but the plastic cover.
Smile, because we were okay.
The locals car windshield was maybe a foot from the truck. Majority of the front passenger side of their vehicle was stuffed under our vehicle.
Smile to try and give them the impression they’re going to be alright.
My immediate impression was the front passenger was gonna die and the other 3 occupants didn’t appear much better. Our medic started providing first aid. I ended up pulling security near my vehicle while we now cordoned off the accident vehicle.
Smile and do your job.
I can’t remember if I moved the vehicle or if it was moved for me. I do remember looking back too often and telling myself to pull security. Especially once the popshots started.
Smile none of us got hit.
For years I thought those guys died. Only when I did a paper on the incident years later was I able to close the loop. Corresponding with my former platoon leader and platoon sergeant I got answers to questions I guess I never asked. Our medic was able to stabilize all 4 of them. They lived.
Smile we’re still in touch.
My point being, that while digging through the past can hurt, there can also be closure there. We all carry the weight of our decisions and thier impact on the world. We don’t need to shoulder additional weight.
Smile because it really wasn’t that bad.
We all do the best we can with the information available at the time. When seconds matter, having years to second guess can be grueling.
Smile because we still have the option.