Wednesday, December 14, 2011

People are stupid, even me.

I'm wrung out and exhausted today. Lots of panic attacks and flashbacks. I spent most of today sedating myself into unconsciousness, because I exceeded the tolerable limit for stress. I can't stop thinking about it, all of it. I've recently discovered that I've been punishing myself for years, blaming myself for what happened. I'm generally a fairly self-aware person, and I was shocked when I discovered how morbidly furious I am with myself. It wasn't my fault, none of it was. It was a miracle I survived it. I'm tough. I didn't report any of the incidents which is, in part, why I blame myself. The other part was that I didn't fight very hard to stop it. I was too scared, and I was pissed about it. It was perfectly sensible not to fight off an armed attacker who is also a trained killer. I'm almost always trying to not put blame anywhere for what happened except with myself. It was war, people were dying with tragic frequency, and we were always on missions. I'm not an idiot, I know that everyone was under that kind of stress, and those levels of stress can and do make people go kind of insane. Not an excuse for rape certainly, but certainly justifies why I didn't try to maim and/or kill my attackers. It was not my fault. I was too afraid to do anything to make them stop other than cry.

It was a near constant close call with death for almost fifteen months. I was convinced I was going to die before the unit would be allowed to go home. I was so utterly convinced of it, that when nothing else could comfort me, the reminder that I was going to die soothed me to sleep. Sometimes I almost resent having survived it. The fire fights, the mortars, the IEDs, controlled detonations, the never-ending sexual assaults, the grabbing, the groping, the demands for kisses or other sexual favors, people dying, all of it was enough to really convince me that I was going to die. Or had already died and was in hell. Through all of that I had my job to do, and that was what held me together for the deployment. If I was going to die, then by God I would be remembered as a soldier who got shit done. It is even in the Army motto:

I am an American Soldier.

I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

Ridiculous isn't it? I'd recited or heard this recited so often, that the thought never entered my head to tell the doctors that I was losing my mind because of what was happening. I will never quit. I thought it would be quitting, giving up, violating the oaths I'd sworn. Yeah, so maybe I was a tad bit brainwashed by the Army propaganda. That is what basic training is for after all. I certainly did the close combat part.

You know I hear all the time, you don't seem like a soldier. People definitely wouldn't understand being in Iraq. The truth is I was a soldier, maybe not a very good one. I had problems with authority, given the circumstances I had valid reasons. I don't give a tin shit about being the prime physical specimen, or even getting promoted. One of the reasons people can't see me as a soldier is because I'm a bright girl. I don't know if it is the bright part or the girl part that annoys me more. I have zero tolerance for idiots, and this I picked up in the military. Frankly if I could argue someone higher ranking into a gibbering puddle of confusion, then as far as I was concerned, rank not withstanding, I was the superior soldier. I went on my missions, constantly, sometimes going days without sleep, lugging 80lbs of gear around in 100+ degree heat for dozens of miles a day, and remaining coherent enough to perform my duties. So as far as I was concerned, my performance on my physical fitness tests were entirely moot. Maybe I didn't make a lot of friends in the military (partly because of that zero tolerance for idiots mindset), but I could charm the shit out of people to give me information I needed in order to save American lives, and perform concise and accurate analysis of that information in order to help my unit with their missions. So yeah, I don't seem like a soldier, but so what? I got a few medals, a few awards, saved a few lives. The last part was all that mattered.

At any rate it's all over now, except I can't keep pretending like things didn't happen so I can keep putting one foot in front of the other just to make it through the day.

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