I was standing beside the man-made lake, resting my tired body along one of the worn wooden beams that erected from the dock where my feet were planted. My shift had ended about 45 minutes prior to my arrival at this serene spot. It is a lake within the city’s north end, hidden away from the bustling city by statuesque trees, and the plume of leaves and branches that soar away from the wooden giants that surrounded it. This was where I would come to sit and be alone with my thoughts, where I would come to reconcile some of the horrors that the city streets had to offer. There was a mist that had nestled itself atop of the glass like water. The sun was just beginning to rise into its full glory, shining its light upon the golden leaves of the fall trees. A brilliant orange shimmer sparkled as the light kissed through the dew that rested upon them.
The setting was serene and peaceful, no doubt, but inside of me was anything but. Inside of me, there was a tempestuous storm. A roaring fire atop unsettled sea’s. Chaos. The shift I had come from would see me, a first responder, answer the call for the full gambit people’s hell. We would confirm the deaths of two people, one old, one not so. We would respond to a bevy of assaults with a myriad of different injuries. There would be an angry drunk that would spit, bite, kick and scream at us the entire way to the hospital, as well as he would continue during our offload delay. There would be the elderly lady who spoke no English of any kind, and was thrust upon us with no accompanying paper work, or history of chief complaint, we were just to “take her and leave”. It was a night filled with every type of annoying, and each type of crazy. It was also a night where I would respond to one of the worst rapes that I have ever had the misfortune of encountering. I have written about her before, that poor and violated young woman. It was a night that was hard to reconcile. We bounced from call to call. Some people swore endless obscenities towards us, while others ‘thanked’ us. It was; a night shift…
As I stood there beside the still moving lake, basking beneath the morning chill of an autumn air, sipping my tea, while struggling to make it through my breakfast sandwich, my appetite began precipitously fading, as did my resolve to remain calm. In a single moment, as if to remember all at one time every bad call, every terrible instance of my military career, a typhoon of horrible images and memories came hurdling back to marry the already despondent feelings I was holding from last night’s shift. My body began to tingle with enmity. In one fluid motion, my hand holding the breakfast sandwich cocked back as if to ready itself like a weapon, no sooner after having done so, it fired forward, hurling the sausage and egger high into the air, and racing into the distance. It began to break apart as it fell from the sky crashing into the once flawless sheet of water. Watching the impact zone begin to emit ripples across the lake towards the shores in all directions did little to quell the fire-like rage within me. Soon, my tea joined the breakfast sandwiches fate, and along with it, a billowing scream from the base of my lungs of, “FUCK! FUCK!! FUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!” Through the quiet morning air, my echoing howl of disdain could be heard bouncing off concrete walls of nearby apartments and into the abyss.
Even that was unsuccessful in calming my tattered nerves. I readied my lungs to shout once more, and as I began to let loose a clattering shout of, fuck, once more, it was cut short by the sight of a jogger less than ten-feet from me. Her expression told me everything I needed to know about how I was being perceived. Embarrassment now wiggled its way into the mix of emotions that I was housing at the moment. She simply ran on by but, threw the occasional glance over her left shoulder towards me. I was even more ashamed of myself because I was still dressed in uniform, and feared what she had seen. Did she see me toss the innocent sausage and egger through the air? Did she watch as the tea, spun and twirled through the air helplessly meeting its fate at the bottom of this lake? If I were a turtle in that moment, I would have certainly retreated into my shell.
This was in the latter stages of my career, and I was dealing with a multitude of different things from family issues, to relationship woes, as well as having a high-stress job. Suicides and sexual assaults were some of my most hated calls, and that night shift forced me to confront almost every type of bad call. I think I was just burnt out. Or at the very least, fizzling out. Composure was harder to come by back then. Actually, it still is. I find I hide away from the world on most days. Staying inside of my disastrous apartment, earphones securely attached to my ears so as to drown out the nuisance of the world around me. I shop late at night. I do laundry at impossibly early hours of the morning so as to avoid other people, other-annoying-people…
I still feel the need to scream some days, most days. Now I just squeeze my pillow tightly around my head and face, and shout until my voice is either raw, or gives-way. Anger, resentment and rumination are all apart of my daily routines now as a man with a broken mind, a wounded psyche and an injured soul. I am told that it will not always be like this and I am hopeful that it won’t but, for now it is. For now, I am still that man standing on the wooden planks of the dock, throwing things high into the air, and screaming my rage into the unknown. I-am-angry.
To confess something about being angry, I have not thrown anything into the air but, my keys on this keyboard are definitely feeling the angst and resentment flow from my plummeting finger tips.
I wrote this because today, today I am angry. Just plain old angry. I hate the world and the evil within it. I hate the things that I have seen that reaffirm just how awful we are. I hate picturing the things that I have seen and done. I hate knowing what lurks in the dark corners of our cities, and I hate that I am grateful to have that knowledge. I am angry that I am not blissfully ignorant, and I am angry that I am angry. I hate having PTSD and I hate feeling as though it was me who gave it to myself. Like I was too weak to prevent myself from getting it. I hate no longer wearing a uniform, but walking around as though I am. I see things most people don’t. I observe people differently than most people. And today, right now, I am angry that I never got called to court for that heinous rape. I am angry because that means that the monster got away with it. That he was never caught, at least, not for that rape. I hate how it’s that young woman who is to serve a life sentence and not him. I hate how I am embarrassed. Embarrassed the same as I was after being seen by the judging jogger. People judge your anger. Eventually their patience and tolerance runs out, but anger does not.
In my head, as I finish writing this, rest assured, I am throwing endless sandwiches and tea’s into the bottom of a lake. Endless…
I hear you.
I feel your pain, still serving on year 28 and am getting treatment but still see the faces of the 19 that got killed on my first tour every time I close my eyes. I dare not drive because the road rage would cause you or your coworkers to come to the scene. I too seek out places to scream or cry hopefully out of sight or earshot of others. No more sleep but a couple hour if lucky before the the nightmares jolt me awake usually of the dead or injured children I had to deal with on tour sometimes their faces change to my families children. Seen a dozen friends take their own lives and seeing how it affects their loved ones is the main reason I have not. Although sometimes you can see the felief in thier eyes as they no the struggle is over. Take care my friend and try and focus on the good you have done.