I'm back at work now... working as a waitress at Applebee's. Taking down orders from customers, taking orders from the managers and the cooks. They don't yell much, but any loud or unfamiliar noises send fear and adrenaline skittering all the way through my body and flashbacks through my mind. Nobody really ever notices unless I stay there for too long and don't come back to the restaurant fast enough. Usually that's when customers are trying to order and I've spaced out--yet again--and they get impatient, eventually pulling my back to the present, thankfully.
I'm so tired of feeling like this though! And of the flashbacks and the nightmares. I feel as if I'm still there somehow. Like I'm half here and half of me is still fighting. I want to be wholly here with my kids and my schooling. I want to feel something--something other than fear and sadness... fear and sadness. I smile and I laugh at work and I hope with everything I have that by faking it... I'll feel it, but that just doesn't seem to work... and some people see through it. Especially--fellow soldiers.
I'd only been back at work about a month when I waited on an elderly gentleman wearing a decorated cap. He smiled and saluted me as I was walking towards him and a shock of remembrance shot its way through me. On autopilot, I returned it and took his order. My smile was mechanical and he saw it.
"You shouldn't fake it, you know. That feeling you have inside of you doesn't go away without help. I know just how difficult asking for help is, but trust this old geezer--it makes life a lot more like living and a lot less like surviving. You don't have to be so trapped."
Trapped. The "old geezer" had put a word to it. I felt trapped... and I still do.
How do I get out?
"I've been home about 6 months now and I still have my doubts. I'm not sure how I got here, or how I'm gonna get out...
And I see death in every single thought... They taught me how to put that uniform on. I just can't get it off...
God there's no end in site, 'cause even though I'm home now, I'm still fightin' for my life..." ~A Soldier's Memoir, Joe Bachman.