I thought I was ready to start getting into the more “real” parts of my story with this post. On my last post I ended it by saying “Side note: Every entry will end with #23toomany. It stands for the 22 veterans and one active duty who commit suicide every day. It’s not a political statement, it’s my way of honoring my friends, brothers, and sisters. I love you and miss you all.”
We lost another brother in arms here the other day. I can’t count how many that’s been since I’ve been here the last almost ten years. I’m not really a religious person, agnostic maybe? We’ll go further into that later. If any of you are religious, say a prayer for this Sailor’s family and friends. If you’re like me, send your thoughts and wishes. If you have another way, please share. I’m in pieces and I didn’t even know him.
My first encounter with military suicide was when I had just turned 23 years old. I was in my house with two good friends, both Marines; we were playing with my dogs. A few hours later one of those friends took his own life. For so long I blamed myself. Then I was angry, but the one thing was the sadness of looking at the spot where we all were that night. We were laughing and joking and I would give the world to go back and save him.
Is it normal to hate everything and everyone, but want to save them all? That’s how I feel. It’s an unreasonable feeling. I’m angry. We lose too many every day. If they’re not directly in your social network, they are in a friend’s. It’s how it works. We’re a family. Sometimes we’re broken, and the system isn’t in place to fix us.
When I was in therapy for my PTSD, I was told the old saying “time heals all wounds is a load of shit.” It is. Time is nothing. We can’t touch it, we can’t go back, we really can’t move forward. We live in the now. Time doesn’t heal anything. Time may make you forget, but it does not heal. Coping heals. Talking heals. Reaching out when you feel alone heals. I don’t care if you are in the military, a veteran, or a civilian if you need to talk I beg you to leave a comment for me. I may not always respond right away (can’t blog at work), but I do care and so do others. Even in your darkest moments, please know someone cares. I’ve been in those shoes, too. The only one that cared was my dog, and she kept me alive.
I don’t grieve well. I bottle it up. When my Marine friend died there was a small service in the chapel on base for us military brothers and sisters (we’re not friends, we’re family). I went there for the first time a couple of weeks ago since his service in 2009. I laid my head on the table they rested the coffin on and cried. That was the first time in years. Find a way to grieve lost friends and family. It’s not easy, I still don’t know how but I’m trying.
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” No, I respectfully disagree. Suicide is an act of extreme desperation, hopelessness, and the feeling others would be better off without you. “Suicide is an act of cowardice.” No, wrong again. If you’ve never lost someone or been on the brink yourself, you can keep that incorrect assumption to yourself. And if you don’t, respectfully, shut the fuck up.
To my brothers and sisters still here: I love you and I’m sorry we deal with this every day. It doesn’t get easier.
For my brothers and sisters who have passed: You can stand down. Your watch is over now. Rest in peace. Til Valhalla.
I’ll continue to end posts like this every day I write:
#23toomany. It stands for the 22 veterans and one active duty who commit suicide every day. It’s not a political statement, it’s my way of honoring my friends, brothers, and sisters. I love you and miss you all.
In case the picture at the top is cut off: