Ingenuous engineers, those bomb-makers. Many still are, I’d hazard. Skillful architects of death and destruction. Their damnable tenacity came with a worldview; one in which myself and my colleagues found ourselves in opposition to merely by the donning of a uniform and thereby being seen as servants of a shrinking empire. So far, so mundane. This was just another of humanity’s self-destructive conflicts; its star faintly glimmering in a universe of many.
Those times when you were told that you had been standing on a pressure-plate, or the car you were searching had been booby-trapped, or a command-wire had been broken – those times liked to snap a piece of your mind off, and hide themselves with severed foot, or the piece of a child’s hand you thought at first was a gutted fish. But those near-deaths, those times it was only the detonator exploding, they like to scrape their edges along your memory. They’re painless because they have no substance. You didn’t die, or be blown in half, because they didn’t function properly – yet neither will you. That’s one of their legacies: what they might have done to your life or limbs. The others? Well, there’s the standard replaying the incident over and over, usually with your mind telling you you died – that’s one they tuck away for empty days when you stare outside reality and stare for ages at a dead sky. One of the more interactive ‘legacies’ is the one were your mind stops telling you to flee from danger. No, it’ll happily nail you to an AK-47’s crosshairs. ‘Just stand up, let death get a good look at you,’ it’ll whisper, ‘you’ve dodged the bullet before, you can do it again.’ Just as you watched your friend(s) lying sprawled in their own blood, or questioned your mind as to how the woman with no face can make still make a screaming noise. These deaths are also promises to you of your own. Your bullet merely lies dreaming of they time of its flame-birth, of the time it will plunge into you, shattering bone into shrapnel, punching organs into pulp. Or maybe, it’s the bomb that waits to spray your blood to dust to be trodden underfoot.
So, you stop caring. You stop trying. You’re going to die – it’s inevitable, isn’t it? I mean there’s an ASU out there who’ll be bought rounds and cheered tonight as you’re being drained on a slab? So why care about living?
BECAUSE THOSE LEGACIES – THE ONES TELLING YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED LIKE YOUR FRIENDS – THEY WANT YOU TO GIVE UP. NO. WAIT. YOU WANT YOU TO GIVE UP.
All you’re doing is looking for excuses to give up. It’s easier to give up, walk away, than confront these fears. Strip away the blood-shock of their garb and that’s all that remains – FEAR. It’s a SELFISH FEAR, too. Easy for you to just stride over the edge. You don’t want to gaze back and see the damage YOU’RE DEATH will leave with YOUR loved ones and friends. Recognize these thoughts which you have brought from your past. Recognize that you are only seeing them as an EXCUSE for you behave in a COWARDLY and SELFISH WAY. One that will leave only more trauma and endless soul-searching in your wake.
DON’T YOU SEE? You DIDN’T DIE for a reason. You have become dismissive of a life that many have been brutally robbed of. Putting yourself in risk’s way was how you may have chosen to play the game when the conflict boiled around us. Death was daily then. But, YOU lived through that, many didn’t – and it is for them that we SHOULD LIVE NOW. It is for our loved ones and friends that we SHOULD LIVE NOW.
When I wrote the following poem I was very conflicted. I was at another threshold of existence; another crossroads of living or dying. But the words began to glow with a new light, one of hope, of recognizing MORE THAN JUST MYSELF. I found this key. This recognition. It was through constant writing: poetry, fiction, nonsense, anything. The words slowly started to make sense. A truth which PTSD tries to deny many began to shine onto the page, faintly at first – and it’s not a race, I’m not even halfway there, but at the same time I may be further away from suicide than ever before.
YOU MUST BEGIN TO TALK OF YOUR NEAR-DEATHS AS MUCH AS THE DEATHS OF OTHERS, OR THE HOT WIND OF THE BOMB OVER YOU. DEATH DOES NOT WANT YOU TO TALK, BUT YOU ARE STRONGER THAN DEATH – YOU READING THIS PROVES IT.
Sometimes amongst the sepia
streets of flashback’s eternal night
simmering terror, the past fades
to ligature’s lament and blade’s
but, the sun rises still
in a family’s eyes
to pull me from the hell
that clings to me.
Helpful links to support organisations:
Mind.org.uk Supportline.org.uk Samaritans PTSDUK
Thank you for reading. I hope to have a new post soon.