I just finished showering. At 02:30 in the morning, I awoke without the assistance of an alarm, and after a few moments of gathering my thoughts from a groggy haze, I made my way to the shower. After my shower, I returned to my bedroom, stripped the bed of its linen, and placed it into a laundry bag. While placing it into the bag, my hands could feel the damp fabric. It was saturated in my sweat. You see, I had been sleeping. But, my slumber gave way to an uninvited intrusion from my ol’ pal, post-traumatic stress. The sound of gun shots pierced their way through my ears, and into my resting mind. The result, was the death of my sleep, and a haunting clatter, that is all too familiar…
When I awoke, covered in a glistening sweat, my body felt as though it should be standing at the position of attention. Listening to the deafening ‘crack’ of rifle fire, booming from behind me, and echoing into the distance.
When I had gone to bed, I had done so because I was tired, and ready for rest, but when I woke up, I found myself ‘at’ a fallen brother’s funeral. Graveside, with a gun-salute behind me. It took me a few minutes to realize that I was not in fact there, but rather seated uncomfortably atop of my bed. My ears could still hear the firing of the rifles though. It was as though they were firing from outside my fucking door. I clenched my eyes tightly, and silently demanded that the echoing ‘cracks’ from those somber rifles, become still. After utilizing a few of the grounding techniques that I had learned in therapy, I was able to reacclimate to the fact that I was home, within my shanty of an apartment. The damage was done though, my sheets were soiled with sweat, and my heart was running a marathon.
As I continued to pack this laundry bag, I found irony in the fact that I had recently commiserated, another anniversary of a fallen brother, and here my injured brain was, preparing for the next one that looms in the near future. About a month away to be precise. Perhaps what is more ironic, is that it has almost been a decade, since the passing of this fallen brother of mine, and yet, here on a muggy night in July of 2017, mere moments ago, it was as if it was happening all over again. My body remembered standing at attention, dressed in my rigid polyester dress greens. Motionless and stoic with discipline. My mind recalled each individual thought that I felt that day, and replayed them for me in an unwanted flashback of horrible rumination. A sickening portend of all the things that are likely to repeat themselves a month from now…
Part of me wants to break down and cry, the other part of me wants to grasp this now full, laundry bag, and heave it across the infinitesimal room, where I was damned from finding rest. I chose neither. I swallowed hard, and picked up the laundry bag, and placed it over my shoulder, and head out the door. I made it about half way to the laundry mat when I realized, it was closed. It does not open until 04:00. It was at that moment that I let fly, a boisterous shout into the night sky. I won’t tell you what I shouted, I’ll keep this P.G. Having a heavy sense of defeat join the weight of the laundry bag that hung over my shoulders, I walked to the Tim Horton’s, to get a tea. I had after all just screamed at the top of my voice so, a tea was likely to feel pretty nice.
The one thing that I could not shake, despite being equipped with the grounding techniques learned in therapy, was all of the thoughts that I had, had that day – the day of the funeral. The day we removed our nations flag from the wooden box that now housed our fallen brother. Folding it, and then having it handed to a bereaved mother. My mind raced with these thoughts, along with many others. And every now and then, while remembering, a faint ‘cracking’ of rifle fire, hauntingly rang in my ears.
To those who do not have post-traumatic stress disorder, this is what seemingly benign night can be like: Maddening as well as saddening. Depressing and hopeless. Infuriatingly torturous. And sometimes, under the right misfortune of circumstance, you’ll find yourself having to sleep on the couch.
Isn’t that funny? – I don’t have an angry spouse to banish me there, all I have, is an angry wounded mind to do the same.