Confused But Who Cares

I have reached a point further into the realm of stress and depression that I have not encountered before.

On Sunday last, a double homicide occurred which included the execution of a two-year-old. My role in this was to provide a counsel to those who were on-scene at this event. While I did my best to calm the fears and trepidations of the on-scene officers, as well as my own experiences in dealing with those who were on-scene.

Apparently, my efforts were not sufficient because an outside agency was called in to debrief those who were on-scene. Thus, I not only must deal with those who witnessed the scene where the execution of a two year old occurred and their biases, I now must face the fact that an outside agency was brought in to debrief those involved EXCEPT me.

Yet, in the eleven years I have been a Chaplain, witnessing murders, the aftermath of murders, the deaths of infants, whores, deputies,the aged…yet I have never…..NEVER been debriefed because apparently I don’t warrant that courtesy.

I have held the hand of the dying; held the body of a dead infant as decomp oozed from her nostrils while attempting to convince the mother to relinquish custody of the body of her dead daughter to the coroners.

I have attended the deaths of many who were in hospital as they died. Nonetheless, I have conducted funerals for the dead I did not know and those whom I did know. Yet, no one bothered to offer me a debrief. I was expected to suppress my agony whilst plastering on a sanguine smile to fool the others.

Needless to say, I have reached the point where I am ready to exit this world.

The Dream


I don’t know how I got there, but I found myself on a dirt road with traveling companions I did not know, yet we were talking as if we had known each other all of our lives.  I remember there were six of us, all told, walking down this dirt road under an overcast sky.  There was a stiff breeze blowing in our faces as we walked and talked about things I cannot remember.

We walked past an asylum, which, at first, seemed abandoned with the yard overgrown, the fence rusted, no sounds came from the place.  We saw no faces… first.  Then we saw the grey silhouettes begin to take shape in the windows, white faces in unkempt gowns, hair awry, hands pressed with the faces against the windows.  There was still no sound.  It was as if these faces found us to be a curiosity and just wanted to watch us.  Every once in a while a face would mouth a word or a cry, but no sound was made.  We pressed on with our journey to who knows where or why.

I awoke briefly to turn over, and found I was drenched with sweat, as were my bed clothes.  Honestly, I cared not.  I was parched, so I got a drink of water and fell back in bed, soundly asleep once again.  This time we were in some sort of cathedral.  There were wooden folding chairs of dark strong wood lined up in front of a polished marble wall with an intricate design.

The wall

I was informed that I was to pray.  My traveling companions seem to have disappeared during my trudge to get a glass of water, but I was joined with others who seemed to be family members of mine or some sort of intimates.  I found a kneeling bench before the wall and knelt down to pray.  I don’t remember what I said, but I remember looking up at the intricate design and noticed a sphere floating up with my prayer.  It would almost reach the center, where it seemed to be drawn to be expelled, but my prayers weren’t enough.  There was a priest dressed in black with a purple stole emblazoned with the Lutheran Rose who kept telling me I wasn’t praying strong enough.

Yet no matter the invocation, incantation, supplication, nothing was powerful enough to raise the sphere to the point it needed to be.  By the time my alarm resounded, I was exhausted, drenched once again in sweat, and perplexed as to what all this meant!  Quite unsettling that!  Yet I cannot shake the impression that this was some sort of message which I need to understand.

I am at a loss!


That Night

As night set in, we came under fire. The ensuing firefight was terrifying! Every round we put downrange came back at us from multiple directions.

I heard the wet “thwak” of rounds hitting human beings…my friends, my brothers in arms…my comrades. I know their families, their children, even the names of their pets. Yet hearing the rounds hit them and their muffled cries for the medic…

I relive that night every night. I relive every such firefight every night. What should we have done differently? How did we miss this intel? Why did we get caught in that trap?

I feel as though I am going insane at times when I hear the echoing voices in mind. The hollow ring of the firefight. Then the sweat begins. And my hands shake so badly I have to sit on them. Clinching my teeth until my jaw muscles knot and cramp.

What’s to become of me?

I Am Broken


The call came in at 7:05 last night.  A 13 year old boy had completed suicide by shooting himself in the head.  When I arrived, I was greeted by the Deputies who were already on scene…..and then, I saw the devastated family sitting in the drive.

I have seen this type of scene too many times.  I have witnessed, and caused, the death of others too many times.  Insomnia has been a companion for over 25 years now.  Stress, from the traumas, which I have attempted to hide/deny/ignore/self-medicate away, is one of the many voices screaming in my head.  Social Anxiety clings to me like a second skin, hoping no one will see what is really happening to me and attempt to “rescue” me from what the creature which lurks noisily behind my eyes.  Social Anxiety feeds and fuels my Introvertism which makes me want to hide from the world until the screaming stops!

I am exhausted!!  I am tired of getting out of bed every morning so I can vomit in the bathroom sink.  Usually there is nothing within to vomit out so I am merely retching painfully over the sink.  When I look at my face in the mirror, I see the reddened eyes swollen from the effort of trying to expel the shrieking monster between my ears.

Sleep, if you can call it that, is seldom more than a few minutes here and there between nightmares that only seem to become more vivid with the passing of time. The nightmares where I have been unable to move, speak, or even wake up.  The nightmares where all I can do is lie there tensed like a rubberband stretched too tightly and sweat profusely.  Far too often I have finally been released in the middle of trying to remember the Lord’s Prayer.  Concentration is difficult at best and impossible at worst.

Yet, I am the one who has to maintain so that I can be of help to others who are, in the moment, worse off than I.  I am expected to have answers for those who have been traumatized.  I am the one who gets to hear their stories, all the while being terrified that my story will somehow leak out, so I don’t like talking to people.  There are VERY few that I will consider a true friend because I don’t make friends easily.  I don’t want others to get too close.  I don’t want my demons to infest anyone else.

Yet, what option do I have other than slap on a “Happy Mask” and pretend all is well?  There are no employment opportunities for the broken.  There are only more horrors and nightmares.  There are only more tortures!  The most I can to is continue to exist with this nightmare and try not to be put off when others keep me at arm’s length.  Honestly, while that stings, it’s for the best.

Forgive me, but I must close this entry as it is time to paint on the “Happy Face” and start another day.

There Will Be Days Like This

days like this

One of my favorite songs during my growing up years is “Days Like This” by Van Morrison.  At first I thought the song was about sad and negative experiences.  That is…until I actually read the lyrics.  It was then that I realized the song was a reminder that no matter what kind of day you are having, there will be days like this and there will be other days that are not like this.

“When it’s not always raining….There will be days like this.
When there’s no one complaining….there will be days like this.
When everything falls into place, like the flip of a switch,
My Mama told me….there will be days like this.”

Whatever kind of day I’m having, there will be more days like this.  Go figure.

I Wish


I wish I could understand why I cannot stop these nightmares that paralyze me and leave me soaked in sweat more exhausted than when I went to bed.  I have come to fear getting sleepy!  I have come to despise going to bed.  I have become terrified of my own thoughts and memories.

The anxiety of the inevitable nightmares, with all the smells, sounds, sights and emotions, have left me a mere shell of my former self.  There are times when I cannot even remember what sort of person I was before.  And I dare to hope that someday, somehow I can find peace.

I cannot unsee the faces.  I cannot unsee the carnage.  I cannot unsee anything.  My mind will not permit the memories to fade, choosing instead to keep them vividly intact and replay them over and over, day or night!  Yet I don’t understand why only certain memories are reserved to be replayed.  Why not the happier times of camaraderie?  Why not the memories of my childhood where I didn’t have a care in the world?  Why the violent and horrific ones?

My own worst enemy is my memory, and, to be honest, these memories knock the wind out of me making functioning in the world (pretending to be okay) more and more difficult.

thousand yard stare

At work this morning, I sat in my car for over an hour just letting the tears flow.  I am exhausted!  I am so very tired.  I was sitting at my desk and had a flashback.  One of my coworkers came by and told me that I had been staring into nowhere for over an hour.  She asked if I was okay and I felt the need to lie and tell her I was just lost in thought, all the while knowing I was trapped in combat again because my mind won’t release me.

Will I ever be normal again?  Am I going insane?  Is there no way to stop this?

I Can Learn!


I have been dealing with nightmares, flashbacks, and PTSD/PTSI for years now.  My current counselor advised that I write down the usual (date/time/weather/food/drink) but also include such things as what I was watching on television, music I listened to, what I was reading, was I stressed (always), was I anxious (always), how was I feeling, any other information I could remember.

I have faithfully done this for 3 years now and began to notice a trend, the flashbacks can happen at anytime, that much I get.  They have happened while I was drinking coffee in a diner and they have happened sitting in a restaurant having dinner with a beer.  But the most interesting trend…the nightmares seem to happen after I have watched programs on the History Channel regarding warfare or programs like Band of Brothers.

However, the WORST ones occur when I am extremely stressed, anxious, and distressed. Which almost always happens to me when there is someone near me who is insistent on jabbering on and on to me even though I try to ignore them or politely let them know that I am not interested in chatting (being an introvert, I am NOT one who enjoys shallow chit chat).  I don’t understand people who simply feel compelled to talk constantly to people who have given every indication they don’t wish to be engaged in conversation.  Yet they just go on and on, oblivious to the all signals.

I actually told one such chatterbox, as politely as I could, that, while I am flattered she found me worthy of her attention, I wished to be able to sit quietly and enjoy my own personal space.  This person either did not hear me, ignored my statement, or felt she had the right to invade my personal space because she continued on and on.  I finally looked her dead in the eye and said, “May I ask you a question?”  She stopped talking, smiled and said, “Sure.”  At which point I got up and left.  Honestly, by that point I didn’t really care if I had offended her or not.

I understand that I am an introvert and that not everyone is such.  However, I cannot understand why others seem to believe that introverts should become targets of their aggressive personal space invasion and to be tormented by there nonstop chattering.