They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Feb 9, 2011


I can't hardly explain what's happened to me in the past few months since I've written to you.

Crashed, burned, drank, cried, laughed, and I stared....

Dead eyed at a loaded gun for about 6 hours...and never picked it up.

I didn't want to die. Had no interest in it really. I believe in God, but I'm not going to be the one to test the theory. Know what I mean?

Its been about 18 months since I came home from Afghanistan and luckily for me, the nightmares have become bearable dreams. Not sure if they're wearing off or my body and mind have simply adapted to them.

My family relationships have all returned to what I like to call, "the new normal" Basically, that's me plus the war equals what you've got now.

Work has gotten back normal as an incarceration center is ever going to get.

I even went back to school for a semester. Managed to get one A, one B and one C. Definitely not my best work, but not too shabby given the circumstances. Now I'm studying for the GRE, which is "the first step toward grad school" Bunch of shit if you ask me, just another test you gotta pay for.

Went to see the shrink for a while. But for some reason I felt like I was talking to a wall. Wasn't that he was a bad guy, I just don't know if he quite understood what the fuck I was talking about. About the only way I can explain, even come close to explaining what is happening in my head is this...

Just think about when you've been at home, maybe cleaning or doing laundry or some such mundane shit. And in the background you've got the TV going. Every now and then something on the TV catches your interest and you stop what you're doing and pay attention to the TV. Maybe you even sit down and watch for a while before you get back up and do whatever it is that you were doing.

Now in my case the TV is inside my brain and is constantly replaying scenes from AssCrackIstan. A firefight here, and IED there, a couple of mortar rounds over there, a severed limb or artery or two and then its back to regular life.

When I first got home, I'm not going to lie, the TV in my head took over all brain functioning as soon as the sun went down. And it had power of attorney every 10-15 seconds during the day. It would pop up, play me a little clip and then fade into the background. Just not very far, and it was never very far from popping up again.

As time went on though it got better. Soon there were 30 seconds to a minute between flashes. Then 5-10 minutes. Then every hour or so. Then once or twice a day. Now its gotten so good that I actually need a trigger to see it!

The triggers are fun. Diesel fuel, loud noises, mud, sand, any Arab looking person, fire or smoke, trash on the road, piles of rocks, and a few others that I can't remember. I'll write them down when they hit me.

Basically, if I don't see, hear, taste or touch one of those things I can make it through an entire day without thinking of my time in Afghanistan. Which makes me extremely happy...

Oh, and then there's anything blue. That'll set me off. A long time ago I wrote about something that happened one day while I was on patrol. I shared it with a few of you, but I didn't publish it outright. Hell if I even remember why. Probably because I didn't want my mom reading it. But I think its about time that I let that little cat out of the bag....So here goes.

I Would Love To Shit Myself, But I Can't Unclench My Butt Cheeks...

Wednesday, December 17, 2034 hrs.
So it happened again today, except it got just a little bit worse. They knew we were coming and were waiting...

We came up around the bend in the road and they hit us from the left side. Small arms fire coming at us like so many little pellets that harmlessly bounce off of our trucks. The gunners began sending back a hail of gunfire the likes of which I have never seen.

Then we saw the spotters on the ridge behind us. These are the pricks that send the messages to the guys with the guns letting them know we are coming. These guys are almost as dangerous as the guys with the guns.

We gave chase as far as we possibly could with the terrain being as bad as it is here. Then we saw them running over the top of the mountain and got out of the trucks and began to chase them. Over one mountain and up another, checking every little crevice and behind every rock waiting ever so patiently for the good Lord to call me home.

Then we finally made contact, and began to fire. Shooting at and trying to kill a human being didn't feel like I thought it would feel. Truth be told it didn't feel like much of anything at the time. All I really knew or thought about was that these assholes tried to kill me, so I am going to kill them back.

All the while we were hearing the avalanche of gunfire coming from just over the mountains to our rear where the other squad in our patrol was coming under the brunt of the ambush that was meant for us. Machine guns and automatic grenade launchers peppered the mountain behind us, so much so you could almost smell the smoke.

Yep, the guys that were shooting at us were a decoy. Meant simply to draw us away from the rest of our guys so that they could catch them in the shooting gallery that is also known as the Afghan mountains. But still we ran after them. We ran and ran and ran. Stopping periodically to shoot and get shot at. Then one of the worst nightmares of any soldier happened to me. (I am truly beginning to think that someone really hates me) I was maneuvering over top of a ridge and down the other side after having just tried to knock these assholes down, but they were just a little bit out of my range.

I came up over the ridge and was looking for a way down the other side when off to my left no more than 10 feet I saw a blue hat. Without even thinking I spun my rifle and trained it right on the blue hat. I moved forward and it took me what felt like 10 years to move 10 feet. I was thinking that they had decided to hide the other side of the ridge and either surprise us or take out one of their boom boom's and make a martyr of themselves and an asshole out of me. I still don't know why I didn't fire. I had the blue of the hat right in my sights. I could've shot him dead without so much as a scratch on me.

But I didn't fire.
Then I heard it.
The whimpering of a crying child.

After the reality of it all hit me, I rushed forward and started telling these two kids, neither one of which could've been over six years old, that it was going to be OK, and I wasn't going to hurt them. Then I remembered, Hey Dickbag, they can't understand you. I called the interpreter over and he got them to safety.

We chased them for a few more clicks and then gave up after they had successfully melted into the mountains.

We went back to the vehicles and continued the patrol. Later a humvee in our convoy hit an IED (improvised explosive device). Damn thing blew the whole front end of the truck clean off. Shook the living shit out of the guys in the truck but no one was hurt. Taliban are fucking cowards, come out and fight you pricks.

So that was today. Fun for me. Then I noticed that I really needed to drop a deuce. However after the events of today I don't know when my buttcheeks are going to unclench and allow that to happen again. Hence the title.
So tonight everyone needs to say a prayer for peace.

So I never have to hear the quiet whimpering of a terrified child again.
I love you mom...and I am just fine.

I don't really know why I felt the need to share that one now. It just seemed right.
But I'm thinking that I'll start writing again. For a few months there I sank real deep into the hell that is my mind. And I've been slowly making my way back from there. Hence the title of this post.

I even dropped about 40 pounds! Which is literally and figuratively a load off my mind...and my ass!

And as crazy as this might sound, I managed to find a woman who would put up with my shit for more than an hour! Dare I say, I've got a new girlfriend. Thankfully, she doesn't trigger anything.

Now its time for me to start coming up with new and interesting things to write about. But for today I'll end with this. A LONG time ago I wrote about what advice I'd give a soldier going to Afghanistan for the first time.
Now I'd tell them...

A lot of who you are is going to change over there. Some parts of you are even going to die. There's no way around this, and there's no way, nor is there any reason to fight it. Its going to happen whether you like it or not. When you get home, you're going to feel empty. But make no mistake, that's not emptiness you're feeling. What you're feeling and going through is a new beginning. You're not the same person you were when you left. Its almost like you are meeting your family, and friends for the first time. Its like you're learning to live all over again. Its almost like being resurrected...
I love you Mom... 


  1. I hear you crying my friend, at least you know what your problem is, hopefully you will be able to deal with it. It took 30 years to get me to a shrink, I had one that did understand and with a little pill each day I have made it to 73 years old. I hope you can do the same.

  2. As you know, I’m not a shrink (but you can pay me if you want to - I take Pay Pal) but I do work with and hang with many combat vets. And I am not qualified to tell you things or offer solutions as I have never been fired on, but the one thing they all say is to keep on talking about it.

    Nothing will ever go away, but, as you said, it can be less stressful and fearful. Keeping it inside is like cancer. Only time and dealing with your memories and terrors by talking or writing about them will make like bearable.

    But you know all this, so I’ll just set over here read. Respects, Dude!

  3. Okay....
    what does a mom (even if she is only a virtuamom) say or do when her 'child' hurts?
    You know I am here. I will always be here to read your words. My constant prayers will continue.
    hugs...lots and lots of hugs.

  4. Glad to hear things are coming back together for you. Thanks for sharing. It just might help someone else, too.

  5. They are such freaking cowards. But you know... to those 2 little boys, you are their very good dreams.

    Glad you're back. People care. ..know that. Some day I will call on your advice again for a soldier heading out, and I'll remember what you said here.

    Thank you for sharing this...
    Glad you're writing again.

  6. Dude... I don't even know what to say to this. And though I have your blog in my list of must reads, I normally wouldn't respond. However, since AM requested her readers say something, I'm doing so.

    Your words brought me about as close to tears as I'll allow myself to get at work. And I am grateful.

    My oldest is in Kuwait today and though I'd bet his experiences aren't comparable to yours, I'm going to pass along your words of advice to him. Hope you don't mind.

    Take care of yourself... and keep writing. Please.

  7. Man mudpuppy, you scared the dueces out of me!!! No words since November! UGH! You are in the good dreams of those children, don't forget that. You are in all of our prayers. You are a good one Mudpuppy, don't forget that either. You are wise, you will help others. Keep writing, even when you don't want to, just put a word out there for us hungry for your words.
    Here is a link to a program that started in SC. It is dear to my heart.
    Sending you cyber love and oh, yea...Glad you gotta girl! Sweet!

  8. Keep writing, talking to pen pushers who have no idea what you're talking about may or may not help.
    A few things that helped me BEFORE deploying...things I was taught at advanced police and police supervisor training.

    If you go talk to a shrink- and YOU don't like them or YOU don't think they are doing any good, then it's OK for YOU to find another one. Shrinks are like every other job, some are good at actually helping and some suck.

    I went to the VA to "chat" a few times...and they asked me to come back and help others. So I asked: "Does that mean I'm fine?"

    Yep. But me being fine after deployment was because of 23 years of being a cop and all that. I wish I could help other soldiers coming back more...

    A tip or two, never point a weapon at anything you love-- including yourself. That will never help and will hurt those left behind.

  9. Greetings. I am a new reader, just discovered you from CI Roller Dude. I will go back and catch up on your backstory soon, but this was quite the intro.
    I agree with Roller Dude, you are the "customer" when it comes to the therapist. Took me 4 I think to find one I gelled with. But they are an improtant part of your health care team.
    Those little guys in the blue hats are the reason you were there; you and your brothers are giving them and their brothers and sisters the future they deserve to have. Never, ever forget that.
    Blessings to you, and I am gald to be following you on your journey.

  10. It was soooo good to see you've started writing again. I was worried something bad had happened.

    Great to see you back and I hope your life gets back to as normal as possible.

  11. thanks for sharing!
    wishing you much happiness with your new girl....BOY do you have it B.A.D.!!!

    prayers and love from Texas.

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